The Wake Forest Demon Deacons finished the 2016 recruiting class with a total of 22 players. The class was ranked 58th overall by 247 Sports, 63rd by Rivals, and 63rd by Scout. The Deacs signed 12 offensive players, 9 defensive players, and 1 specialist. Let's take a look at how well the Deacs recruited at each position, and how well they met their needs.
Wake Forest signed one quarterback in Jamie Newman. It's very typical for schools to take one quarterback per season. This is actually the first time since arriving at Wake Forest that Clawson and his staff have taken only one quarterback. Newman is an early-enrollee who is a dual threat and performed very well at the Elite 11 competitions. He will in all likelihood redshirt this season, and that will be very good for his development. He has the potential to be a very good player for Wake.
Wake Forest signed two running backs. The first is Arkeem Byrd, who did not commit to the Deacs until National Signing Day. He's a very dynamic playmaker who can score from anywhere on the field. There are a lot of young running backs on the roster, but Byrd still has a chance to play in year one. The second back is Cade Carney, who is more of a physical back. He has great athleticism, and great strength. He is an early-enrollee and has the chance to compete for playing time this year.
The Deacs signed three wide receivers this year, after signing five in the 2015 class. They brought in early-enrollee Jeremiah Brown, who is 6'2" and was a track star in high school. They also brought in Malik Grate out of South Carolina, who can play either outside receiver position or in the slot. The third receiver is Greg Dortch out of the Richmond area. He is small, but can make so many players miss in space. He has the chance to be the team's starting punt returner as early as this year.
Coach Clawson has said that he wants to transition the offense to be more tight end-oriented, so they went out and signed three tight ends. Brandon Chapman is an early-enrollee, and is one of the more highly rated players in the class. He's a more physical tight end than any on the current roster. LaRonde' Liverpool is going to start at tight end, but he has the versatility to play tight end, defensive end, or outside linebacker. He's very physical and can go grab the ball. Thomas Cole is known more for his receiving skills. He is not highly rated, so I would guess that he is a candidate to redshirt. Chapman has the best chance of the three to play this season.
Wake Forest continued the trend of signing multiple members on the offensive line. In total, the Deacs signed three. Taleni Suhren is a lineman out of the Charlotte area who can play either guard or tackle. He had several other Power 5 offers, and was arguably the best offensive tackle prospect in the state of North Carolina. Je'Vionte' Nash out of the Jacksonville area was first team all-State at Florida's 7A, which is a huge honor. He finishes plays and also has good mobility. Tyler Watson did not play offensive line until this season. Wake was one of the first to offer him, but he ended up picking up more than 20 FBS offers. This is the third consecutive year that I have thought Wake did a nice job recruiting the offensive line. Ideally all three of these players redshirt this season, but the staff is adding nice depth at the position. Eventually it will be a position of strength.
Wake has struggled to find a decent pass rush in recent years. What did they do? They went out and signed three defensive ends plus a monster defensive tackle. The defensive tackle is Suilaman Kamara, who was first team all-state in Virginia's class 5A. He was named conference player of the year, and is the highest rated player in the class according to 247 Sports. He has a chance to play this fall.
Three three defensive ends are Carlos Basham, Jr., Emmanuel Walker, and Zander Zimmer. Basham was the Virginia class 3A player of the year, and had 21 tackles for loss as a senior. Emmanuel Walker had a whopping 27 sacks as a senior, which led the state of South Carolina. Zander Zimmer is out of the Orlando area and was twice named to second team all-state in Florida's 5A. This was definitely an area of need. The staff added some quality players. Ideally they all redshirt, but due to depth at defensive end, at least one will probably play this fall.
Wake signed just one linebacker in Jacquez Williams, who is actually converting from running back. Linebacker wasn't a huge area of need, but the Deacs do lose Brandon Chubb and Hunter Williams from last year's roster. In Wake's 4-2-5 scheme this isn't a huge position of need, so it makes sense that Wake only signed one. Given that he's changing positions, I expect him to redshirt.
The Deacs added four in the secondary, with three of the four coming at the safety position. Essang Bassey is the only corner of the group. He was named first team all-state in Georgia's class 5A. Wake signed two talented corners last year in Dionte Austin and Amari Henderson, with Austin playing as a true freshman, but I wish Wake did a better job addressing this position.
My favorite of the safety signees is Traveon Redd. He is an early-enrollee and two-time state champion in Virginia. He was first team all-state in Virginia's 3A, and is a hard hitter. Wake has a decent amount of depth at safety, so I do not think he will play this season, but he has the best chance of the freshmen safeties to do so. Wake signed Lukas Masterson, who was second team all-state in Florida this past fall. The last safety is DeAndre' Delaney. He was primarily a running back in high school, but the staff loved his combination of size and athleticism. The staff said they weren't looking to take three safeties, but fell in love with his measurables and skill set. Honestly, I'm not sure the staff needed to take three safeties, but we will see how it plays out.
Wake got an excellent punter/kicker in Dom Maggio. He's arguably the best punter in the country, and will immediately start. He's also a good kicker in case he needs to do that in emergency situations. Hopefully he doesn't have to punt as often as Alex Kinal did, but this is a great addition.
I thought Wake did a pretty nice job of addressing needs. It was Clawson's third big class in a row, so I have to think that next year's class will be smaller. Granted, I thought the same thing last year. To be fair, it was slightly smaller than the previous two classes.
I don't think Wake needed to take three wide receivers, and I don't think they needed to take three safeties. I like Essang Bassey, but I believe Wake needed to add multiple corners in this class. They did a nice job addressing the defensive line, and added depth on the offensive line. The late addition of Arkeem Byrd was big time in terms of getting a playmaker on the offensive end. They also signed a quarterback who has the chance to be a real difference maker. Wake fans should be very happy with this class. I don't think there will be a lot of immediate contributors from this class, but that doesn't mean there aren't a number of strong players in the class.