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Wake Forest Football: How Does the 2017 Recruiting Class Stack Up?

Let’s take a closer look at the 2017 class prior to National Signing Day.

NCAA Football: Wake Forest at Duke Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

If you haven’t already heard, Dave Clawson is pretty good at this whole recruiting thing. With just a month left before National Signing Day, the Wake Forest Head Coach is putting the finishing touches on his 4th recruiting class, all of which have been above the program’s historical standards. If you need any proof of his ability to recruit to Winston-Salem, I made this table showing Wake Forest’s final team ranking position for the top scouting sites. The average yearly rank across the three sites as well as the average finishing position for Grobe’s final 7 classes vs. Clawson’s first 3 are both included. As you can see, Clawson’s presence has been worth a boost of about 8 spots per year in the final Rivals, 247, and Scout Team Rankings.

Given the improvement in landing talent on the recruiting trail, it’s no wonder that Wake has been able to improve on the field as well in each of Clawson’s first 3 years. 2017 will be the 1st season the staff has seniors they personally recruited in the locker room, and the intangible impact that could have is certainly worth noting.

But where does the 2017 class stack up on paper against the first few classes in the Clawson era? Let’s take a closer look at what the scouting sites are saying.

At this exact moment, there’s a range of about 10 spots in where the current sites rank the 2017 Demon Deacon football class. Rivals is the low bar, putting Wake’s class at 71st nationally, which would be its lowest since 2012. This is due to only 8 of the 17 commits being ranked a 3* or above, which is low even for a smaller P5 school like Wake. Its 2.53 star average across the class would rank only above Syracuse, BC, and Indiana from the other premier conferences.

Scout and 247sports have the Deacs currently right around where they’ve finished in past years. Scout’s current ranking is just two spots lower than the site’s average class in the Clawson area and 247sports’ is 1.67 spots lower. So would it be safe to assume 2017 is a standard year and Rivals’ system is just being a little harsh on a smaller Wake Forest commit list? Well…not exactly.

Of course, each one of these sites has their own formula to create these overall team rankings. The sites value different things in different ways (Ex: Rivals caps the value of the class size at 20, where as Scout’s point system is heavily based on class rank for each player), hence the reason why each method has the Deacs placed differently.

However, one cause for concern is that the Deacs’ respective site “ratings,” for all three methods, are not worth nearly as much as the current rankings indicate at the moment. Plenty of schools that are currently below Wake Forest in the rankings will likely add prospects before National Signing Day, and if the Deacs don’t do the same they could be in for a big drop in the rankings by next month. Take a look at Wake’s current rating on each of the sites and where it would’ve placed over the last 3 years in the final rankings.

On every site there’s a better than 50% shot the current class (with no additions) places in the 80’s; something that hasn’t happened in over a decade in Winston-Salem. Needless to say, there’s still work left to do for the class if its going to measure up to recruiting classes of previous Clawson years. The only thing left to do is add more commits.

Let’s look at who these commits might be:

Using 247sports’ handy Class Calculator I was able to simulate what the 2017 recruiting class would look like with any and all combinations of these five players. It’s probably unwise to assume we would be able to land all 5 logically and logistically, as we can only add about 2-3 players to the class anyway based on scholarship numbers. Here are the top three 3-player pairings that would boost the Wake Forest’s 2017 class in the rankings the most on 247:

#1: OJ Tucker, Avery Showell, Sage Surratt= +11.69. (Final Rating: 157.14)

#2: OJ Tucker, Avery Showell, Demetris Harris= +11.50 (Final Rating: 156.95)

#3: OJ Tucker, Sage Surratt, Demetris Harris= +11.07 (Final Rating: 156.52)

All three of these pairings would put Wake likely in the 70-73 range for the final National Rankings based on recent years. It still isn’t exactly where most fans might want to be, but remember that one perk of having a quality team this season was the ability to redshirt a large amount of freshman. Very few members of the 2017 class, if any at all, would be forced to come in and contribute day 1, which is a good thing for development, confidence, and the program’s future. Whether this class finishes 65th or 70th doesn’t really matter when these guys are going to have a full 12 months to train before they even hit the field on Saturday anyway.

What about the Rivals ranking system? This system is a lot more standardized than 247’s and is easier to calculate at home with just paper and a pen. 5.6 recruits are worth 75 points, 5.5 are worth 60 points, 5.4 are worth 45 points, and 5.2 just 15 points. In this case, the very clear top 3 would be Avery Showell, OJ Tucker, and Demetris Harris, who would all add to the Deacons’ final rating by 195 points (75+60+60). This 195 on top of the 885 the Deacs currently have would put the team at a 1080 rating, and probably in the 67-72 National Ranking range. Due to Wake only being at 17 commits and the system encouraging quantity over quality, Wake could really benefit in these rankings if it added a few more pieces.

Of course, the question you are probably wondering is “What is the most likely pairing scenario of these targets?” I think there’s a very good chance Wake picks up Sage Surratt following his official visit January 13th given his recent update in the Scout article above. He mentioned how he valued education, playing early, and opportunities to be successful and stated WF was recruiting him the hardest. If all goes according to plan, Surratt should be a great addition to the 2017 class in just a couple of weeks.

With Surratt in the fold, Wake will likely hold a spot open for longtime 3* target Demetris Harris given the fact that OL always seems to be a position of need for the program. Harris named the Deacs his leader in an article on Scout on 12/20 and mentioned how he wanted to possibly push back his Official Visit to the last week of January. Having the final visit before a recruit makes his decision usually bodes well for the program getting seen at the end.

Finally, I think the staff would be thrilled with either Avery Showell or OJ Tucker joining the 2017 class in the Secondary. Showell, of course, was a former member of the class prior to decommitting following Mike Elko’s departure. OJ Tucker had an in-home visit from the now Notre Dame Defensive Coordinator just a few days before news broke that he would be heading up to South Bend.

An article dropped earlier this morning with Tucker saying ND was his “dream offer” and it seems as though if he does indeed get one it won’t be long before he commits. Showell’s recruitment has been far quieter since his decommitment, but the tweeting of a picture of him with all the other Georgia 2017 commits was a good sign that Wake is still in the mix.

If I had to guess, Surratt, Harris, and Showell would be the three most likely to join the Demon Deacon 2017 class by the time NSD comes around. There’s a lot to like about the class as it is right now, but adding some more quality prospects can never hurt a program like Wake Forest with growing aspirations. Let’s hope the staff can close the deal with these guys in the coming weeks and end Recruiting Cycle #3 of the Clawson Era on a high note.