National Signing Day has come and gone, and we can now compare how well each school performed. Sure, we won't know for sure how good these players are for another three to four years, but in the meantime we can speculate with reasonably certainty based on the predictability that recruiting rankings have been proven to have.
Bart already discussed how well Wake performed compared to Wake's historical standards, but let's dive into how well the Deacs did this year compared to the rest of the ACC and country.
Wake Forest finished 11th in the ACC according to both 247 and Rivals, which are widely considered to be the two best football recruiting services. They finished 52nd and 53rd, respectively, which is Wake's highest finish ever. According to 247's rankings, Wake finished within 10 spots of Georgia Tech, who recently defeated Mississippi State in the Orange Bowl.
Wake Forest also finished near or better than peer schools such as Duke, Virginia, Boston College, Pittsburgh and Syracuse. With Atlantic Division opponents Florida State and Clemson each securing top 5 to top 10 classes nationally, it's critical that Wake Forest out-recruit, or recruit comparably to fellow Atlantic Division opponents Boston College and Syracuse, as well as permanent cross-division rival Duke. North Carolina State should be another peer program, but they had an excellent recruiting class this season.
Still, as critical as recruiting highly touted prospects is, player development is also essential to building a quality football program. Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson says,"Wake Forest will always be a program focused on player development. Stars are good, but we look at how these guys will be in two years." Wake Forest isn't going to beat Florida State and Clemson on National Signing Day. They simply aren't. But Wake can beat those teams on the field in the Fall if they recruit at a high enough level that will allow a redshirt year and player development to close the gap. Player development can close gaps, but Wake must recruit well enough so that the gap isn't too big to overcome.
The key for Wake to beat the elite teams is to have Wake's starters and rotation players consist of mostly upperclassmen who have had multiple years in a strength & conditioning program, and have had time to develop as role players before they have to be key contributors. If you combine this with going against FSU and Clemson when they are playing a fair number of true freshmen and sophomores, then they can be beaten. And if you out-recruit your peer schools, and combine that with outstanding player development, then you can be very successful on most Saturdays in the ACC.
Clawson has a vision for the program, and he and his staff took a giant step closer to that goal on National Signing Day 2015. The pieces are being added, and the program is on the rise.
|# Commits||247 Ntl Rank||247 ACC Rank||Rivals Ntl Rank||Rivals ACC Rank|
|North Carolina State||23||30||6||35||7|