CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Head coach Dave Clawson spent much of his allotted time at ACC Kickoff letting the media know that the Deacons landed the best-rated recruiting class in school history, giving the third-year coach and his staff the most talented team they’ve had to date. In fact, much of his time with the assembled media sounded like a recruiting pitch, no doubt buoyed by the recent spate of much-needed facility upgrades on the Wake Forest campus. In addition to the installation of new grass and turf practice fields, the dedication of the McCreary Field House before spring practice must feel like a giant recruiting Achilles heel has been remedied.
“It was critical,” Clawson said of the new facilities. “When recruits would come on campus they would say, ‘This is a great academic school. The campus is beautiful.’ But there was nothing on our campus that said, ‘Wow, football is really, really important here.’ Now that perception changes with that building.
Because (recruits) will compare our indoor with any program in the country and say, ‘Wow.’”
Clawson shared that the indoor facility will ensure that the testy North Carolina late-summer weather will no-longer affect the Deacs’ game preparation. Wake Forest had to cancel two of three practices leading up to last season’s game at Syracuse, much like happened before the Army game the year before.
“You just couldn’t practice,” Clawson said. “If you only have a three-hour window to work with your players because of their class schedule and tutoring schedule, if you get two bolts of lightning within a half hour of each other you lose the whole practice. And you don’t make them up. So you’re 67 percent less prepared for a game than you should be. So this is a game-changer for us where we can plan things and not have to reschedule.”
Clawson is not the only Demon Deacon who has been energized by the new construction on campus.
Senior linebacker Marquel Lee said that the opening of the new facility gave his teammates a great deal of pride and excitement.
“It was amazing. At the grand opening guys were so excited. We have a sense of pride about ourselves now because someone cares enough to donate 20 million, 30 million dollars to build a facility like that for us. So why can’t we be great and why can’t we pay them back with wins? And that’s what we want to do.”
Clawson echoed that sentiment, saying that it’s nice to finally have something, anything, on campus that will help to impress visiting recruits- something they’ve never had.
“It makes the players in our program feel like what they do is more important. It makes recruits feel and know that football is important at Wake Forest. You don’t make the facility investment we’re making unless it’s really important. We’re going to go from the bottom of the conference, facility-wise, to I think in that top group in three years.”