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Deacs That Never Were: Assessing the Decommits of Recent Recruiting Classes

Where are the 2014 and 2015 recruits who committed to WF and then ultimately changed their mind?

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

As we enter into the final days before NSD, decommitments are as plentiful as ever across the college football landscape. With no early signing period developed yet schools are constantly heading into January with an expectation that they must protect their class from poaching, while at the same time potentially steal 1-2 guys along the way as well. It's a messy situation and one that can lead to a lot of frustration for fans and coaching staffs regardless of program size. Wake Forest has lost a few commits throughout the past two years for a variety of reasons before and after National Signing Day. This article is a "Where are they now?" update on these recruits and how their college career has gone so far.

2015 Class

Andrew Rector, S, 3*

Committed: July 21, 2014, Decommitted: November 5, 2014

Result: Vanderbilt (Committed November 28, 2014)

Rector was a 3* Safety that committed to Wake Forest in the summer of 2014 following an unofficial visit to campus. The commitment always seemed in danger, however, as Rector was receiving heavy interest from Vanderbilt throughout the summer and fall and is located in his hometown of Nashville. Upon receiving a Vandy offer in October, Rector decommitted from the Deacs a month later, took an unofficial visit to VU and the rest was history. As a true freshman Rector played in nine games for the Commodores on special teams and as a reserve DB. His highlight of the year occurred in a game against UK when he blocked a punt that ultimately helped seal the victory for Vandy.

Dior Johnson, DB, 3*

Committed: January 19, 2014 Decommitted: January 27, 2015

Result: Minnesota (Committed January 28)

Johnson was probably the main recruit fans were most upset about not being able to land last winter after he was upgraded to a 4* rating in his senior season. Johnson’s verbal seemed "soft" in the final months, but there was hope he might stay with WF despite a lot late interest from Minnesota. That hope ultimately fell through as he committed to the Gophers on 1/28 and became the highest ranked recruit in their class instead of ours. He redshirted this past season, but should have a good chance at competing for PT next year as UM loses senior Safety Antonio Johnson who led the team in tackles in 2015.

Christian Matthew, DB, 3*

Committed: July 1, 2014, Decommitted: January 27, 2015

Result: Georgia Southern (Committed January 27, 2015)

Christian Matthew added some sparks to the fire of the Georgia Southern-Wake Forest recruiting rivalry last year when he decided to flip on his 6-month long WF verbal and commit to GSU instead. Matthew was an ATH in high school, but was mainly being recruited as a DB for the WF coaching staff. He ended up redshirting his freshman season at GSU, but should have a great chance to earn time next season with almost the entire secondary graduating this spring.

Lee Autry, DT, 3*

Committed: May 22, 2014, Decommitted: Unknown

Result: Not playing FBS football

Lee Autry was one of the first commits of the 2015 class and yet never ended up wearing a Wake Forest jersey. The 6’2 265 pound DT was ranked as one of the top 50 players in the state of NC and a solid 3* recruit with other offers from Mississippi State, UNC, Charlotte, and Georgia Southern. Autry also played high school basketball for Albermale and it was thought that his athleticism would be the most valuable asset that he was bringing to the program.

However, as the recruiting cycle came to a close it became clearer that Autry would not be signing with Wake Forest on NSD. Unlike the other names mentioned above though, Autry did not choose to play football at one of his other offers and I cannot find him on any D1 football roster currently. You don’t see situations like this happen that often and one can only hope that injuries or other circumstances have not prevented him from pursuing college football if that is truly where his heart is.

Bowman Archibald, TE, 4*

Committed: September 21, 2014, Transferred before season/Did not decommit

Result: Not playing FBS football

The story of Bowman Archibald was one that certainly disappointed a few Deacon fans last spring. Rarely does WF have the opportunity to land players who are top 20 in their position and that’s exactly what the 6’6 TE was in Dave Clawson’s 2015 class. Archibald even enrolled early to acclimate to college life and develop chemistry with his fellow QBs before a freak broken leg injury in an informal passing drill put his freshman season in jeopardy.

The injury was a major setback for Archibald’s hopes of contributing year 1 in Dave Clawson’s system, but his excitement to get on WF’s campus never hinted that he would end up transferring from the school. Though that is exactly what happened on June 15 when the shocking news came that Archibald wanted to continue his career elsewhere. It later came out that the only school he was really considering was USF and his intentions were made clear in multiple July reports.

Archibald never ended up playing for USF. In fact, it doesn’t seem like he ever actually enrolled. "Transfer glitches" and likely a number of other under the radar factors resulted in the move never coming to fruition. While in July it seemed as though his rehab was progressing well, I’ve heard from another source that the injury later had complications though this hasn't been confirmed.

In an article with the Tampa Bay Times he mentioned that his family "struggling back home" was a key factor in his transfer decision so he may be understandably addressing this situation before returning to college football. I want to refrain from speculating too much, but I do hope Bowman's 2016 is a healthy one and circumstances work out so that he can play college football if that is his ultimate goal.

Jake Bargas, TE, 3*

Committed: June 21, 2014, Decommitted: January 18, 2015

Result: UNC (Committed January 19, 2015)

Jake Bargas was one of the top recruits in WF’s 2015 class before deciding to flip his commitment to UNC following an official visit to Chapel Hill. He may have felt threatened by the fact that fellow TE commit Bowman Archibald was enrolling early and thus would be at a disadvantage for playing time early in his career. The reality is soon after his decommitment Archibald’s injury/transfer occurred and WF ended up without either of them in the class. Bargas suffered an injury of his own in camp last summer and was then redshirted this past fall. UNC graduates a senior TE this spring in Kendrick Singleton, but Bargas will likely be the #2 or #3 option at the position in 2016.

2014 Class

Kam Uter, WR, 3*

Committed: January 29, 2014, Signed contract with Dodgers/Did not decommit

Result: Playing Minor League Baseball

Once Dave Clawson was announced as head coach on December 10, 2013, he had very little time to put the finishing touches on a recruiting class that was largely not his. One of his late additions was Kam Uter, a 6’3 WR out of Georgia that was previously committed to Vanderbilt.

Uter was expected to be able to compete for playing time in a WR core that was losing Mike Campanaro and was full of unproven underclassmen on its depth chart. His passion for baseball, however, led him to never actually arrive in Winston-Salem as he signed with the LA Dodgers in June after being selected in the 12th round of the MLB draft.

His professional baseball career hasn’t gotten off to the best start, as he has only made 14 appearances for LAD’s Rookie Ball team since 2014 and is 0-1 with a 6.08 ERA in those appearances. In July, Uter mentioned in an article with that the WF coaching staff was saying "We still have a jersey for you," but I somewhat doubt that is still the case.

Given the 3 WR’s the staff has coming in for 2016, the high production of freshman Tabari Hines, Cortez Lewis, and Chuck Wade this fall, and Scotty Washington and Steven Claude still yet to get their first touches, WR is probably the deepest position on the roster at the moment. If Uter does indeed opt to play college football someday (As many Minor League Baseball dual athletes end up doing) I don't think it will be at Wake Forest. 

Jaylan Barbour, WR, 3*

Committed: August 9, 2013, Released from letter of intent July 1, 2014

Result: App State (Committed July 2, 2014)

Jaylan Barbour was a 3* 2014 WR commit who initially chose WF over Duke, NC State, UNC, West Virginia, and South Carolina. As a top 25 player in the state of NC and a top 1000 player in the nation, the recruiting victory seemed like a very big deal at the time. Barbour ultimately signed his NLI for Wake Forest, but had a change of heart in July before his freshman year and committed to App State instead.

Being a 3* recruit at a position of need, the App State staff did not choose to redshirt Barbour and instead let him play as a true freshman for the Mountaineers. His statistics so far? Five catches, 89 yards, and zero touchdowns over the last two seasons. On App State’s most recent depth chart, Barbour isn’t listed as the starter or backup for any of the team’s three WR positions in the offense. Needless to say, it doesn’t look like his decommitment ultimately ended up hurting WF too much.

That’s the full list of guys who were committed to the Deacs for the 2014 or 2015 classes that never made it to campus the following fall. It will be interesting to continue to monitor how these players perform in the coming years as they move up their respective depth charts. One theme is that none of these recruits have had a major impact from Day 1 with their current team. Of course, it is still early in their careers, but having seen the success of underclassmen the past two years who honored their commitment to WF, I think its safe to say fans are happy with the guys we ended up getting. Best of luck to all of them and let's hope no current commit is added to this list for 2016.