Football recruits are different from basketball recruits in many ways, but one is that fans see basketball recruits much earlier in the process. For some football commits, they may be highly touted quarterback on signing day, but not see the field for 2-3 years because they have to wait their turn. Last year, Wake Forest had a number of impact redshirt freshmen last year, including freshman all-american Cam Serigne. Which players who sat out last year will be solid contributors this season?
My top candidate is a man of many handshakes. That man is Cortez Lewis, who in addition to being very friendly, has very good hands, size, and athleticism. He has the tools to be the outside receiver that Wake Forest has not had since Chris Givens, though I don't think he'll be quite as good as Givens (few are). Lewis should catch 40+ balls this season, and will be a nice redzone target
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Herron is expected to start at one of the tackle positions, and although you wish you did not have to start a redshirt freshman at tackle, I'm very excited about him as a prospect. He has a good frame, sound fundamentals, and good footwork. Clawson believes that he can be an all-ACC caliber player in the future, and I trust him.
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I'll continue with the theme of redshirt freshmen who will probably start on the offensive line. Haynes is physically imposing, and is an excellent athlete thanks to his basketball playing days in high school. He's raw, but he's already beaten out some older players on the roster, and is slated to start at left tackle, though he could also see time at guard. Haynes was actually originally part of the 2015 class, but ended up enrolling early, and also transitioned from defensive line to offensive line.
*I did not include film due to his position change.
Rashawn Shaw, as I briefly mentioned in my scrimmage preview, has the highest upside of any of Wake's defensive linemen. He has excellent size at 6'3" 250 pounds, is athletic, and was very highly touted coming out of high school. He was the number 32 defensive end in the country and was first-team all-state in Florida's Class 8A. He switched his commitment from Louisville to Wake Forest, and has the tools to have a very good year. There will be many rotational players on the line, but it will be tough to keep a player who had four combined sacks between the spring game and the first scrimmage off the field.
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Finally, my fifth candidate for breakout redshirt freshman is Patrick Osterhage. This slot probably would have been Ryan Anderson, who was slated to start at center, but then he was suspended for the first month of the season and will not be eligible to play until the game at Boston College. Patrick wasn't highly touted coming out of high school by the recruiting services, but he had impressive film, at least to my eye. Osterhage could start at center while Anderson is out, and he will definitely see some time at guard throughout the season. I think Clawson and Co. got a steal with Patrick.
Les Johns at Deacons Illustrated has a great piece on the offensive linemen mentioned in this article.
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Any other candidates you all believe should be in the top 5? I believe we will look back on this 2014 recruiting class as one that helped lead Wake Forest back to respectability in the ACC.