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Wake Forest talent factory produces again

Austin Da Luz (

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PHILADELPHIA – Stepping up to the microphone and saying the words have become a regular part of Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber’s annual offseason duty.

"From Wake Forest University…"

With four more first-round selections – Ike Opara (third overall to San Jose), Zack Schilawski (ninth to New England), Corben Bone (13 to Chicago) and Austin Da Luz (14 overall to New York) – Wake Forest left yet another emphatic stamp on the MLS SuperDraft.

“We call it ‘The Franchise,'” said Opara, a member of this year’s Generation adidas class and considered by many pundits to be a franchise centerback. “We’ve produced so many players, it’s a joke with the guys. Coach Jay Vidovich creates a professional environment, and that’s why so many good players make the jump to MLS or Europe.”

The list is impressive. Including the four first-rounders this year, Wake Forest has had at least one player selected in the first round of every draft since 2005.

Past Demon Deacons include Marcus Tracy, Michael Lahoud, Sam Cronin, Pat Phelan, Julian Valentin, Wells Thompson, Michael Parkhurst and James Riley, among others.

New England Revolution coach Steve Nicol has made an unintentional habit of drafting players from Wake Forest over the years. The team drafted Parkhurst, Riley, Thompson and Ryan Solle before picking Schilawski Thursday afternoon.

“They’re a top team in the country, and to be a top team you need good players,” Nicol said. “We don’t have a special plan, but when they’re the best available, you take them.”

With the addition of Schilawski, who accounted for 40 goals and 20 assists in his four years as a Demon Deacon, the Revs hope to have found a dynamic finisher to augment the team’s attack, especially with the uncertainty surrounding Taylor Twellman’s future.

“He’s got a lot of things to his game,” Nicol said. “His record of goal scoring and assists, his love for the game and his willingness – that’s a good combination.”

For the detractors who claim that the college game doesn’t provide a good base for players to make the transition to the professional ranks, Wake Forest represents a rebuttal, as the school contributes heavily to the league’s growing youth movement.

“(Vidovich) is a professional guy, and the team is a professional team,” said Bone, a Hermann Trophy finalist, two-time All-American and member of Generation adidas. “I think that’s why the guys from Wake Forest who go into professional teams, obviously it’s a big jump, but maybe the jump isn’t as high as it is for guys from other colleges.”

Added Da Luz, the left-footed midfielder who had six goals and 15 assists this past season: “(Wake) is all about making yourself the best player you can possibly be, and it shows every year come draft time.”

The future remains fruitful for "The Franchise." Striker Andy Lubahn, who has played in the U.S. national youth team system, scored 10 goals and started every game this past year – his freshman season.


  1. Actually, I was looking up some UCLA products last night — what I found interesting is how some highly regarded prospects from UCLA have quickly fallen off the map.

    This link at UCLA — claimed thta UCLA had more MLS players — nearly 2x as many as any other school: Owens

    But, lately, they don’t seem to be panning out: Mike Zaher, Brandon Owens, Greg Folk — the latter 2 seem to have fallen off the Earth, or at least the soccer world, in less than 3 years. Chance Myers and Tony Beltran — the last UCLA players picked at the top of the draft…the book is still open, but they’re not doing as well as people picked lower.

  2. He played 2 years at MD and then went to Europe. How does Maryland not get credit for producing him? The article isn’t only about producing MLS players, it’s about producing pros. Read it again.

    This was definitely Wakes year, but the Terps have definitely been more prolific over the years at producing pros and Nats. Look at last years draft class.

  3. I don’t think people really understand the sentiment around Wake Forest. Everyone knows that schools like Maryland, UVA, and Indiana have been more prominent historically. Wake Forest is the premier pro producing school now, though. Don’t forget that Cody Arnoux would have been in this year’s class too if he had not gone to Everton’s reserves.

  4. According to Wake’s official site, Danny Wenzel redshirted the 2009 season (sat it out to gain an extra full year of eligibilty) after suffering a knee injury during the summer. He was one of the top freshman in the nation in 2008.

  5. Yeah you could argue the Terps are actually better at producing pros than Wake (Twellman, Edu, Goodison, Seitz, Burch, Califf, Gonzalez, Wallace, De La Garza, Garey, Hall, and many more).

    It’d be interesting to see a complete breakdown by school. I’d guess a few others would be fairly prolific as well, like UVA, UNC, and Indiana.

  6. What about the kid from Washington State – Wenzel or Wessel? He was supposed to be a beast at U-17 and then he just dropped off the map. I know he’s playing in the ACC. Is it WF or somewhere else (UNC perhaps?)


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