Win Garners Respect For WFU Program

Few wins in Wake Forest football history have had the potential to do as much for the Deacon program as Saturday's 38-24 commanding victory over North Carolina State...

Sure, Wake Forest has had wins over highly ranked opponents in its history, but the national press coverage and potential recruiting boost from Saturday will be felt within the program for a long time.

Although the Deacons have put together back to back winning seasons since coach Jim Grobe took over the program, fans have still had to put up with an uneducated media that often consider Wake Forest to be inferior to the larger ACC football powers. With Saturday's win, the Deacons finally received some of the national respect Grobe has worked for since his arrival.

After the victory, the Deacons were featured on ESPN's Sportscenter, the frontpage of SportsIllustrated.com, and the frontpage of ESPN.com's college football section, not to mention numerous other local and national news programs that reported the Wake Forest win. To top that publicity, the Associated Press poll and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll both voted the Deacons into the top 25 at #20 and #21 respectively.

There is absolutely no doubt Wake Forest's win over N.C. State will help the program's recruiting. Not only was the game on TV throughout Wake Forest's major recruiting areas, but there were a number of recruits present to watch the game in person – over 100, in fact, including talented seniors such as DeMario Pressley and one of the nation's top juniors in running back Toney Baker. It has long been known that Wake Forest has an incredible academic reputation and a top conference in the ACC to offer recruits, but over the past two years Grobe has attempted to add the only missing piece, a football team that can consistently win and be a contender for ACC championships.

After Saturday's win, Grobe stated, "You've got at Wake Forest something great to sell. You've got an Ivy League school playing in the Atlantic Coast Conference. And when you can win in the ACC, that says a lot to young guys that are picking a school."

There is little more that a potential recruit can ask for in a college than what a winning football program at Wake Forest can offer. Long considered an underdog, the Deacon program seems to be on the brink of a new national image.

"Having that underdog or underachiever label drives you to prove everybody wrong, " Cory Randolph said after Saturday's game. "Every week we know we have to fight hard to earn respect." While teams will not be overlooking Wake Forest anytime in the near future, no team wants to remain an underdog forever.

With the Deacons win Saturday they have blown any kind of cover and ability to sneak up on opponents, but on the other hand have set up an opportunity to burst onto the national college football scene and make a major statement about the Wake Forest program. As Grobe stated prior to the Wolfpack matchup, "I do not have to say what a win over N.C. State would do for this program." From national opinion to recruiting, to fan support, Saturday's victory is certain to have a tremendous impact.


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