The No. 3 player in the Blogger So Dear countdown is one of the most spirited Wake Forest athletes to ever step onto a playing surface. He may also be one of the best cornerbacks to ever step on the field as well. I am referring to, of course, the great Merrill "Bud" Noel.
The cornerback out of Pahokee, Florida is one of the highest touted recruits to ever play in Winston-Salem, choosing the Deacs over: Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Louisville, Michigan, Pittsburgh and Tennessee.
He was committed to the Florida State Seminoles before spurring the 'Noles and turning to Wake Forest.
Noel did not disappoint in his first season as he turned in one of the best freshman seasons in Wake Forest history.
Starting all 13 games at cornerback, Noel was named a consensus Freshman All-American selection. He brought home the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year Award, Honorable Mention All-ACC selection, and tied for the national lead in passes defended (breakups+interceptions) with 21. The 21 passes defended are the most ever by a freshman since the NCAA started the statistic in 2000.
Noel dipped a bit during his sophomore season, but a lot of that was due to teams just not throwing towards him. He finished the year with 3 pass breakups and 33 tackles.
He bounced back last year with 11 starts (missed the final game @Vanderbilt), and led the team with three INTs, and three fumbles. He also accrued 6 pass breakups to give him 28 in his career.
Off of the football field Bud is one of the nicest guys that I have ever had the chance to interview. Not only does he give great quotes and effectively write the article himself, he is a very genuine guy who is quick-witted and always remembers a name.
His spirit is indomitable and it is easy to see why his teammates like him so much. He loves to trash talk and joke around, but came from humble beginnings in Pahokee to excel on and off the field at Wake Forest.
I expect a really big year for Bud and think he will go out with a bang. I'm never good at predicting numbers, but with Kevin Johnson on the other side of the field, Bud will get his fair share of balls to defend.
If he can come anywhere close to his freshman year statistics then he will be one of the greatest defenders ever for Wake Forest. I can not think of a better guy to be included with all the other greats in our football history.