Donavon Greene may have changed his mind, but when it came to his choice of college, the erstwhile Duke Blue Devil football commit still had a little bit of demon in him.
Demon Deacon, that is.
In the late hours of Sunday night, the 6’3”, 181-pound wide receiver, who had announced on March 3 that he would play football at Duke, but later changed his mind and re-opened his recruitment, instead decided to cast his lot with his very first suitor, and the big-time college program closest to his hometown.
“Proud to say I’m committed to Wake Forest University,” Greene announced in a Twitter post at 10:51 p.m. on Sunday night, along with an official WFU graphic that announced his commitment by name.
Wake Forest was the first Division I FBS program to make a formal offer to Greene, on June 2, 2017. He received an offer from East Carolina five days later, followed by Duke on Sept. 4, 2017, NC State on Jan. 27, 2018, Notre Dame on Feb. 1, UNC on Feb. 7, and despite his commitment to Duke, he was then offered by Georgia Tech on March 5, Tennessee on April 9 and by South Carolina two days later. He decommitted from the Blue Devils on May 22.
During his outstanding 2017 season for Mount Airy, in which he caught 46 passes for 1,138 yards and 16 touchdowns for a team that went 14-1 and reached the 1A state championship game, Greene’s stock rose in the eyes of college scouting services, most of whom upgraded his rating from three stars to four.
In addition to his exploits on a football field, Greene is also a former team and individual state champion in track and field, and an All-Conference performer in basketball. Last month, he was named as the 2017-18 Male Athlete of the Year for the five-county region that includes the Mount Airy News and its sister publications.
Many top college prospects change their mind after an initial verbal commitment. In Greene’s case, he respected the program at Duke, but came to believe that the Deacons, who have won a bowl game in each of the past two seasons and are led by a highly respected, creative offensive head coach in Dave Clawson, were a better choice.
“I thought (Wake Forest) would be a good place for me. It’s a small school, like this one, and you can’t beat the coaching there,” said Greene of his new choice. “My parents are happy that I’m playing closer to home, and a lot of my friends are too. It will be easier for them to come and watch.”
The fact that the Deacons have been devoting more resources to having a winning football team, while the Blue Devils are still more about Tobacco Road basketball, also factored into his decision.
“Duke is a good football program and a good school, but I feel like they’re more about basketball there than they are football,” Greene said.
When Greene announced he would play for Wake Forest, he became the second four-star recruit to commit to the Deacons in eight days. Nolan Grouix, a wide receiver from Hough, announced for Wake on June 17. Currently, Wake Forest, which rarely gets blue-chip recruits and has to “coach up” its talent to win, is working on a strong recruiting class for 2019, eighth in the conference and 35th among Division I FBS programs, according to 247Sports.com. The Deacons rated 11th, 10th, 14th, and 13th in the conference in the past four seasons.
Greene said he’s excited about the chance to play football at the next level, and is confident that he can make an early impact on Wake Forest’s football program.
“I just feel like I’ll need to go in and earn it,” he said.
Greene said he will probably take advantage of an opportunity to complete his coursework at Mount Airy by the end of the first semester of the 2018-19 academic year, and then enroll at Wake Forest after the holidays. This will allow him to take part in spring drills for the Deacons and improve his chances of contributing as a freshman in the fall of 2019.
“As of right now, I’m going to do that,” he said of finishing high school and enrolling early. “I already have all of my classes set up to do that.”
Greene, his brother Greg, and several of his other teammates on last year’s MAHS basketball team were working with children at the Northeast Basketball Academy hosted by new Granite Bears head men’s basketball coach Bryan Hayes on Monday. Before he joins the Deacons, he’d like one more shot at the trophy that eluded him last December, though.
Football practice for Greene’s final season with the Bears starts in less than five weeks. The team has a new coach and has to replace several talented seniors, but its top player believes they’ll reload, not rebuild. New head coach Jasson Adkins is known for playing a system that can get the most out of a talented wide receiver, which he certainly has in Greene.
“We should do well,” he said. “We’ve had a coaching switch, and I knew the new coaches would come in and change up the offense a bit, but I like it, and our (quarterbacks) like it, so we should be able to get back there if not win it this time.”
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.