(Early) National Signing Day throughout the years has usually been a bit of a muted celebration for Wake Forest fans for a few reasons.
The first being that the Deacs have historically redshirted a lot of incoming freshmen, causing NSD to be a brief glimpse of players who will not actually get on the field for Mother So Dear for nearly two years (February of this year to August of the following year).
In addition to that, Wake does not usually pick up 4-5 star recruits that are likely to get a lot of playing time, or national exposure off the bat. This is another reason for the distance of time between signing to be a Demon Deacon and actually playing for Wake Forest.
However, one of the most fun things to do on (early) National Signing Day is to look at the guys coming into the class and see who will have a possible immediate impact, or at least see the field as true freshmen.
By my count there were five true freshmen who saw the field this year (Jake Simpson, D.J. Taylor, Coby Davis, Ja’Sir Taylor, and Sean Mcginn). Of those five only two saw consistent snaps throughout the year (Davis and Taylor).
Who are guys that I think could possibly contribute to the team come fall of 2018 if the roster were to remain as it is right now?
While it’s really hard to predict with so much time and possible things that could happen between now and August, here are four guys I believe who could get playing time as true freshmen:
Nick Sciba (Kicker)
This one is a bit of a bailout, but who I believe will see the most time as a true freshman for Wake Forest. By the time Sciba makes it to campus this summer he will be the only scholarship kicker on the roster. RS-JR Ben Brown is the current backup kicker, but as a walk-on I would guess that he will be the backup to Sciba. The staff obviously trusts Sciba and what he brings to the table, so hopefully he shows up ready to handle the kicking game for the Deacs in the fall.
Ryan Smenda (Linebacker)
While this is all a fun thought exercise, beyond Sciba nobody really sticks out as somebody who could play right off the bat. A lot of this is due to the depth that head coach Dave Clawson has developed across the board.
One area that I think is somewhat open right now is at the linebacker(s) position(s). Demetrius Kemp will be the starting rover and I am guessing that Justin Strnad and Nate Mays will step into the MIKE and BUCK positions respectively, but the backup linebacker spots are very open.
Behind Kemp will be Ja’Cquez Williams, and the backups to Mays and Strnad will be battled out between Simpson, Taylor, Chase Monroe, Jeffrey Burley, and possibly Ryan Smenda.
Smenda received a late offer from Texas A&M this month, had 21 other offers in addition to Wake, and was viewed by the staff as an integral part to the class. I think he could come onto campus and get some snaps at the LB position this fall.
Sam Hartman (Quarterback)
There are some rumors that the QB out of Oceanside Collegiate Academy might be enrolling early and head to campus for spring ball. In addition to helping Hartman along fast as possible and spreading out the QB’s a bit more, this could be an indication that the staff is looking for as much competition at the QB position as possible.
I would expect that the job will be Kendall Hinton’s to lose since he started this year as the No. 1, but it’s no surprise that he has battled injuries during his time at Wake Forest and somebody has to be the backup.
Considering Hartman is listed as a Pro-Style QB I am not exactly sure how that would play into things, especially if the offense is designed to have a dual-threat QB as we have had in the past.
I haven't seen many practices at all so I can’t comment on how Jamie Newman or Tayvon Bowers have looked, but all of these guys need to be ready to get snaps should Hinton go down during the ‘18 season.
Peyton Woulard (Safety)
Much like the linebacker(s) position(s) the starters in the secondary are almost certainly set in stone with Jessie Bates III and Cameron Glenn. This duo is one of the best in the ACC when they are both healthy. Bates III struggled with an injury down the stretch and forced Luke Masterson into action late in the year.
The backup position behind Cameron Glenn at free safety is slightly less clear than at strong safety though. RS-JR Thomas Dillon was listed as the backup for much of the season, but he walked on Senior Day, and it’s not 100% sure whether or not he will be back. The other free safety in Traveon Redd missed the entire season with an elbow injury and if he is healthy should be in the mix to back up there.
Aside from that him there is DeAndre’ Delaney, and then possibly Peyton Woulard who could step in and get some playing time right off the bat.