Verbal commitments in the class of 2018 are happening at an alarming rate. Two years ago, the first freshman verbal occurred around Thanksgiving when Haverford (Pa.) attackman Forry Smith ’16 decided on Hopkins. Last year, it was Bronxville (N.Y.) attackman/midfielder Ara Atayan ’17 in late September, executing a verbal to North Carolina.
Now, we’re in the second half of October and there are already 15 reported verbal commitments. Having watched several of these players already, I’ll say that I don’t blame college coaches for taking them. Sure, it may be crazy to try and project how good a player is going to be 4-8 years from now. I don’t want to go as far to say that a handful of these 2018’s below are “can’t miss” prospects, but knowing how talented they are now and thinking about where their skill set will be as high school seniors, they’re awfully close. That statement might bring on some skepticism, and I’m cool with that. These kids will be household names in recruiting in a few short years – watch them in fall tournaments and you’ll begin to agree.
We’ll have more from the other 2018 commitments, specifically Syracuse-bound Fox Lane (N.Y.) midfielder Matthew Magnan, in the coming days, as well as follow-up Q&A’s with the players below.
Hopkins reels in stud midfielder Kuttin from LI’s Team 91
The third commitment from the vaunted Team 91 Xtreme squad, Chaminade (N.Y.) freshman midfielder Sean Kuttin committed to Dave Pietramala and the Blue Jays on Sunday evening.
The St. James native has already made waves in the offseason, thriving at events like 3d Blue Chip, Platinum Cup and Jake Reed’s Blue Chip, among others. He moves up and down the field with considerable spring in his step, does a fantastic job setting up teammates coming out of his dodge and has an impressive array of moves when the ball is in his stick. Evaluating him back in January down in Florida, it was evident that he plays his tail off between the lines as well, thriving at the defensive midfield and when the ball was on the ground.
Sean Keenan, the father of two former All-Americans at Smithtown West (N.Y.), works with Kuttin extensively and sings the future Blue Jay’s praises.
“Kuttin’s work ethic I would compare to Rob Pannell… I think that along with his talent, that quality will help him become a great player at JHU, ” says Keenan, who coached the U.S. national team member in high school before his career at Deerfield Academy, Cornell and the Long Island Lizards. “He never stops trying to improve as a player and shoots the ball in the high 80’s with accuracy and on the run with both hands – Sean could be the best shooter I have seen at his age. His biggest asset is that he hates to lose and if I was picking a team, I would pick him first.”
If Kuttin is able to bulk up in the weight room and hits a growth spurt, he’ll become an even more dangerous player.
Southern standout Nicky Solomon bound for Chapel Hill
There’s been a trend of the younger brothers following the path of their older siblings in hopes of reuniting on the same playing field. Families like the Stanwick’s and Froccaro’s and several more have had sons choose to follow suit.
That kind of offer is usually too good to pass up.
However, LB3 and Centennial (Ga.) standout Nicky Solomon will carve a different path than his Syracuse-bound brother (RR’s No. 56 senior, Nate) and become a North Carolina Tar Heel.
He’s already established himself as a phenomenal prospect, dominating older competition as part of LB3’s 2017 team and tallying a whopping 14 goals and 14 assists during IL Invitational weekend. Solomon also put up five points in the Uncommitted All-Star Game.
Former SU All-American Liam Banks’ pupil is the consummate quarterback possessing equal propensity to both feed and shoot. He has an astounding change of direction and burst in his dodging at X, while it’s also clear that he’s worked a tremendous amount on his off hand. His IQ is quite impressive for a non-hotbed player so young, so his potential to be a force at the next level is considerable. Nicky’s hustle and tenacity in the riding game is also an underrated part of his game, which will soar with a few more years of high school and club ball. He’s already notched 61 goals and 41 assists last spring, which is impressive no matter what level of competition you’re playing. Continuing to play in the very best events in the fall (he has plans to hit the Philly Freshman Showcase and Adrenaline Fall Invitational) and summer will be pivotal.
Solomon, whose highlight reels can be viewed here, had a busy summer that helped him get on college coaches’ radar. In addition to the Tar Heels, he strongly considered Ohio State and Syracuse.
Virginia lands one of the more coveted ’18s in Ross Pridemore
Head coach Dom Starsia has been known to attract the best high school talent to the Charlottesville school’s grounds. In fact, the Wahoos have Recruiting Rundown’s No. 1 prospect committed to in the graduating classes of 2015, 2016 and 2017.
While it would be slightly premature to name Pridemore as such, he’s certainly a candidate to bring in top-ranked honors, according to college coaches who recruited him heavily.
As mentioned before in previous articles, varsity experience is often lacking from early commits. Pridemore, however, earned 1st Team All-District, All-Area and All-Region honors after putting up 47 goals & 27 assists for the St. Edward’s (Fla.) Pirates.
Now, he has taken his talents up to the Taft School in Watertown (Conn.), playing for an established head coach in Casey D’Annolfo. He plays club for SweetLax and has played with Madlax, for whom he won MVP honors at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Tournament of Champions last year.
Pridemore is the fourth sibling in his family to thrive in lacrosse, as his older brother, Ben, was an Under Armour All-American midfielder out of Boys’ Latin (Md.) and currently at Notre Dame. Older sister Katie is a former UA AA out of Vero Beach (Fla.), switching her commitment from Florida to Liberty, which is less than an hour from Ross’ future collegiate home. Hannah, a current senior, is one of IL’s more highly ranked high school seniors on the girls’ side and will also head to Liberty once her career ends.
The 5-foot-10, also the starting running back for the Rhinos’ varsity football squad, is expected to dazzle this spring. He’ll replace current Virginia freshman Tyler Breen on the attack end.
It’s rare for a freshman to be so polished in some of the more important fundamentals for an attackman. Pridemore has many of them – he’s a head up dodger at X with a quick release on his shot and excellent vision. His nifty stick work helps him in a major way, as he’s able to best opposing defenders and make highlight reel goals. He’s also particularly dangerous on EMO and in unsettled opportunities.
He also considered Duke, Notre Dame, Hopkins, Michigan, North Carolina, Cornell, Harvard and Penn.