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Wake Forest Football: Big Recruiting Update Two Weeks Before National Signing Day

Wake’s 2017 class is about to grow even more.

NCAA Football: Military Bowl-Temple vs Wake Forest Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Last week I provided an update on the 2017 Wake Forest football recruiting class and where it stood just 3 weeks before National Signing Day. I made it fairly clear that the 2017 class, in terms of scouting sites’ rankings, might finish in the final rankings slightly below what we’ve come to expect in the Clawson era.

This isn’t to say that the class is any less talented from front to back, but simply Rivals, 247sports, and Scout didn’t rate it on par with the 2014, 2015, and 2016 final classes. Key additions would need to be made for the class to rise up in the rankings and reach the bar set by the previous couple of years. Fortunately over the last 48 hours, those additions have already started.

First, Wake Forest added 3* Georgia DB Tyriq Hardimon on Monday after a terrific official visit had him decommit from Cal and switch his final destination to Winston-Salem. Hardimon is a 5.6 on Rivals and had offers from Cal, Illinois, Iowa State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Rutgers, and West Virginia. That’s the type of offer list Wake Forest is proud to be on top of and the commitment demonstrated Dave Clawson’s ability to use the school’s strong academic prestige to its advantage in recruiting battles.

Tuesday evening the good news continued with 3* WR Sage Surratt selecting to 1) Play collegiate football instead of basketball and 2) Play for Wake Forest over NC foes Duke and Chapel Hill, who had offered previously in the cycle. Surratt holds North Carolina’s All-Time Receptions, Receiving Yards, and Receiving TD’s records and was one of the most dominant HS players in the country this fall. He was appropriately named AP North Carolina Player of the Year at the end of the 2016 season.

Given that Wake Forest was his only Official Visit scheduled before National Signing Day, this commitment was far from out of the blue after he decommitted from Harvard last month. After adding both Hardimon and Surratt on back-to-back days, here’s where the 2017 class stands in the National 2017 Team Rankings:

On Rivals, the two commits pushed Wake up on their respective rating system to 990 points, worth about 14 spots in the current 2017 team rankings (77->63). This, of course, is also factoring in the decommitment of TE Braden Atkinson late last week, who was rated a high 2* recruit on the site. The 990 points still wouldn’t be enough to break the Top 70 in Rivals’ Team Rankings in a typical year, but that’s why there’s still two weeks of recruiting left to make moves. Here’s where the Rivals, 247sports, and Scout rating system would project this class to finish if there were no more additions/subtractions before NSD.

Note: Each rating is specifically for the sites’ unique ranking systems.

So who are the potential targets that could help in the Deacs’ ascension prior to NSD? We have some familiar names and some who are new to the board based on recent updates. Let’s check them out.

Demetris Harris is coming off an Official Visit to Charlie Strong’s USF that seemed to go as best as it possibly could have for the Bulls. Although Wake entered the weekend as the leader, it seems as though the AAC school made a massive impression on the young man who is now heavily considering USF. However, Coach Ruggiero wasted no time reaffirming Wake’s heavy interest in the 3* OL prospect by conducting an in-home visit with Harris on Tuesday evening. He now has an official visit scheduled to Wake Forest this upcoming weekend, as well as one on 1/27 to Houston. At this point I’d say it’s anyone’s ball game, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Wake retakes the lead by the time Sunday rolls around.

Temple Commit Ja’Sir Taylor and former WF commit Avery Showell both took their Official Visits over the weekend as well, but nothing has been reported on their overall experience so far. Taylor tweeted the following Sunday night after his OV, but I wouldn’t look too much into this type of reaction as it’s rather standard after a trip.

Showell has been fairly quiet on Twitter since the weekend and as of right now has no other Official Visits scheduled. That’s good news for Wake, who is still after him hard and likely will have a new Defensive Coordinator signed by the end of the week. After Hardimon’s commitment Monday, I would think the Deacs would only add one more to the Secondary for the 2017 class. This might be a case of “First Come, First Serve.” Let’s see who is ready to make the decision sooner.

Wake also extended offers to two new 2017 WR targets last week in Waydale Jones and Davontavean Martin, both of whom are outside the normal geographic range for Wake Forest recruiting (Texas and Louisiana). The distance didn’t prevent the staff from making an in-home visit to Jones yesterday afternoon and establishing an Official Visit on 1/20. Jones is another recruit who is prioritizing education as much as football in his recruitment, hoping to study radiology at whatever school he attends.

Vanderbilt looks to be the main rival here with his visit to Nashville set for 1/27. North Carolina is also hanging around and has invited him to Chapel Hill, but has yet to extend an offer at this point. Between Martin and Jones, the latter seems most likely to be a Demon Deacon on 2/1, but as we’ve seen recently a lot can change fast at this time of the year.

Raheem Layne is the latest name added to the board and the most recently scheduled visitor for this weekend’s events. The Deacs’ interest in Layne is most likely connected to the rumors that former Minnesota Defensive Coordinator Jay Sawvel is on his way to assume the same role in Winston-Salem.

Layne has been open to visiting other schools since his commitment to Minnesota, with Indiana and FIU being recent destinations for the 3* Defensive Back. For what it’s worth, a Minnesota Insider on 247sports flipped his Crystal Ball for Layne yesterday to Wake Forest after hearing he would take an Official Visit. If all goes well this weekend, Layne could be a Deac by next Monday/Tuesday.

All this being said, I expect Wake to add at least one more WR, one more DB, and hopefully Demetris Harris by the time National Signing Day rolls around. Anything extra after that would be an added bonus, and the priority still remains to make sure current commits stay firm on their verbal over the next two weeks. If Wake picks up 3 commits and doesn’t lose anyone, they have a chance to sneak into the 50’s on Rivals’ 2017 Team Rankings. However, given the current targets, where the class currently stands, and how many scholarships are available, I’d say the most likely scenario is a finish in the 63-69 range. Needless to say, let’s hope the staff can ride this strong momentum into National Signing Day and add some key members to the class by February 1st.