It’s been a busy week for Wake Forest Football recruiting with the Deacs adding 3 key pieces to its 2019 class. First, Wake added Arlington (TN) Running Back Kenneth Walker on Sunday night after an Official Visit to campus. Walker was previously committed to Kent State, and he becomes the 2nd MAC program commit Wake has flipped in this class after Michael Kern switched over from Toledo back in June. Monday featured two new additions as well in 3* South Carolina ATH AJ Williams (Former MTSU commit) and 3* Florida DE Justin Williams. These three commitments pushed Wake’s 2019 class into the Top 50 across 247sports and Rivals and has the staff nearly finished with this cycle heading into the Early Signing Period (Dec. 19-21). That being said, I’ve laid out some thoughts on a few Wake Forest Football Recruiting questions after the recent wave of good news. Check it out below.
Who are the main targets left on the board heading into the Early Signing Period?
A few names stand out as we head into the final weeks before the Early Signing Period opens up. Trey Rucker is 3* Safety from Virginia that the Deacs have been on for much of the 2019 recruiting cycle and is on his way to Winston-Salem this weekend for an Official Visit. Wake Forest first offered back in May and appeared to be near the top of his list heading into the summer, but Maryland ultimately received a verbal commitment in July to seemingly end his recruitment.
Shortly after Maryland let go of former Head Coach DJ Durkin last month, Rucker reopened his recruitment and Wake has been one of the main schools to make a push for his services. Rucker has earned offers from Maryland, Indiana, NC State, UNC, Purdue, UVA, and Temple throughout the cycle, the latter of which he took an OV to last weekend and appears to be the primary competition at the moment. Rucker checks all the boxes for the type of prospect Lyle Hemphill is looking for on the defensive side of the ball, and adding him to the class would be a huge boost heading into NSD.
Another Defensive Back to keep an eye on is Josh DeBerry, a 3* Cornerback from Michigan that took an Official Visit over the weekend to Wake. DeBerry is rated a Top 75 CB in the nation according to 247sports and has offers from Northwestern, BC, Cincy, Iowa, and Kentucky. Northwestern and Iowa appear to be the main competition here, with the Hawkeyes set to have an In-Home visit with him later today.
The Deacs may have a little bit of momentum, however, with 247sports National Recruiting Analyst Allen Trieu submitting a Crystal Ball for WF yesterday afternoon. It’ll be interesting to see if any additional OV’s get scheduled before the Early Signing Period, with the obvious preference for Wake being that a decision gets made sooner rather than later.
Finally, Jaden McKenzie is a 3* Defensive Tackle from Wake Forest, NC that has been a priority target for the staff for over a year now. The Deacs first offered McKenzie back in October of 2017 and all signs point to this one coming down to the wire between UNC and Wake Forest for the talented DT. At 6’4 280, McKenzie is an absolute force on the line and has all the tools to be a contributor early and often in Black and Gold.
It’s yet to be seen how the coaching shifts over in Chapel Hill have affected McKenzie’s recruitment, but given the significant attrition in the Tar Heel’s class I’m sure he’s stayed a priority for Mack Brown heading into NSD. In addition to Wake Forest and UNC, McKenzie has picked up offers from Georgia Tech, Clemson, Ohio State, Tennessee, UCF, Wisconsin, and West Virginia. It’s not hyperbole to say that signing McKenzie would be one of the biggest recruiting wins of the Clawson Era if things go the Deacs’ way.
McKenzie will be making his announcement on December 19th in a hat picking ceremony at Wake Forest High School. There will likely be some Crystal Balls heading in one direction over the next two weeks, so keep an eye on how those shift as the Early Signing Period comes up.
Where will this Deacon recruiting class finish up in the National Rankings?
At the current moment, the Deacs rank 44th in the Rivals Team Rankings and 46th in the 247 Composite Team Rankings for 2019. It’s important to note, however, that there’s still plenty of time for shifts in the rankings as uncommitted prospects make their final decisions over the next few weeks. Wake will likely benefit from an extra 2-3 commits overall, but there’s plenty of programs in the 50s and 60s with a lot more open slots and thus opportunities to rise in the rankings as time goes on.
In the Rivals Team Rankings, Wake Forest currently has a score of 1173 with 20 total commits (Justin Williams is listed twice for whatever reason). Rivals’ system only takes into account the Top 20 players in a program’s class, therefore, any lifts to the Deacs’ 1173 rating can only come from 1) One of the current commits getting a boost to their Rivals Rating or 2) A new commit with a higher rating takes the place of a lower rated commit.
With the two commits yesterday, Wake Forest is currently ranked 45th in the 2019 football recruiting class according to @247Sports.— Riley Johnston (@BSD_RaJohnston) December 4, 2018
With both of these upside opportunities factored in, my best guess is Wake’s class finishes with a rating of ~1250 when it’s all said and done, which would’ve placed in the last 5 recruiting classes 61st, 61st, 54th, 54th, and 56th. Overall, the ceiling for this class is probably 50th and the floor is probably 62-65, unless any unexpected commitments or decommitments evidently come into play.
What else is in the news for Wake Forest Football Recruiting?
Nolan Groulx Finishes Top 100 in the Class
Rivals released their Final Top 100 Rankings for 2019 on Tuesday and 4* WR Commit Nolan Groulx came in at #74 in the entire nation. As far as I can tell, this is the highest ever for a Demon Deacon commit since recruiting services became a part of the industry. I know I’m not the only one who can’t wait to see what Nolan can do in Black and Gold over the next few years.
Final Rivals Rankings for class of 2019. Congrats Nolan on coming in at #74. Now it’s time to take that next step and get on up with the college boys. Be humble and help the team anyway you can. Go Wake Forest . Your family is Proud of you ! pic.twitter.com/63ay6yt0UK— Steve Groulx (@groulx_steve) December 4, 2018
QB Commit Michael Kern Senior Highlights Released
2019 QB Commit Michael Kern uploaded his Senior Season Hudl film on Monday and it shows him making a number of excellent throws for Lake Nona in Florida 7A’s classification. Kern finished 6th in the state in Passing Yards, 2nd in Completions, and 11th in Passing TD’s in 2018.
DL Commit Will Smart Has the Offer He Needs
These are the types of tweets that Wake Forest fans love to see at this time of year. Happy to have you, Will.
Appreciate u dawg.... but got the one I need https://t.co/84WJAc1FKR— Will Smart (@Will_Smart2) December 4, 2018
Kendrell Flowers Releases Career Highlight Film. Hint: He’s very good.
2019 RB commit Kendrell Flowers posted his career highlight film on Hudl and it’s legit 7 minutes of him dominating high-quality SC football. Flowers is going to be a serious weapon for the offense when he steps on campus, and he’s all set to officially sign on December 19th at Irmo High.
For more Wake Forest Football Recruiting news and updates, you can follow me on Twitter @WFUSportsStats.