Early Look At The Top Five 2018 Recruiting Classes

Carolina-bound Ricky Miezan (Photo: Pat Stewart)

Carolina-bound Ricky Miezan (Photo: William Stewart Photography)

As the recruiting timetable gets earlier and earlier, that provides lacrosse pundits such as myself the opportunity to give a breakdown of the most impressive classes in the country. In bigger sports like football and basketball, class rankings often shuffle as schools add more pieces in the players’ junior and senior years, whereas in lacrosse things only move based on how the individuals raise their stock. Of course, so much can fluctuate in three years, but here are the five classes that stand out at the moment.

For reference, you can find the full list of 200+ Class of 2018 verbals. Also, here are August’s Top 50 player rankings and watchlist.

1. North Carolina (@uncmenslacrosse

No. 4 Ricky Miezan, M, Episcopal (Va.) / Madlax
No. 7 Jacob Kelly, A, Calvert Hall (Md.) / FCA Maryland
No. 8 Will Bowen, D, Boston College High (Mass.) / Laxachusetts
No. 20 Nicky Solomon, A, Centennial (Ga.) / LB3
No. 27 Harrison Schertzinger, M, Summit Country Day (Oh.) / Resolute
No. 31 Brian Cameron, A, Brewster Academy (N.H.) / NH Tomahawks
No. 38 Caton Johnson, G, Manheim Township (Pa.) / Low & Away, Duke’s LC
No. 44 Henry Schertzinger, M, Summit Country Day (Oh.) / Resolute
No. 47 Evan Egan, D, Oak Park (Calif.) / West Coast Starz, LA Mavs
W – Will Nicklaus, M, Benjamin (Fla.) / Palm Beach Revolution
Chris Nicholas, M, Chaminade (N.Y.) / Team 91

Carolina has become rather accustomed to recruiting classes jam-packed with highly touted prospects from established club programs. With this group, the Tar Heels bring in the most coveted midfield athlete in Miezan, the most polished quarterback in Kelly and the most feared shutdown defenseman in Bowen – those three alone make this a phenomenal class. On top of that, however, there’s noticeable depth at each position and the Tar Heels’ geographical footprint is extremely impressive. They’ve locked down the Schertzinger twins from Cincinnati, Nicklaus from South Florida, Egan from Los Angeles and Solomon from Atlanta. A lot can change between now and the fall of 2018 when these kids hit Chapel Hill, but for now, this assemblage of talent is awfully special.

2. Virginia (@UVAMensLacrosse)

No. 1 Ross Pridemore, A, McCallie (Tenn.) / SweetLax
No. 5 Grayson Sallade, M, Manheim Township (Pa.) / Big 4, Low & Away
No. 25 Cade Saustad, LSM/D, Highland Park (Tex.) / Texas Mustangs
No. 46 Andrew Russell, M, Victor (N.Y.) / SweetLax
W – Patrick Burkinshaw, G, Brunswick (Conn.) / Eclipse
W – Mike Novitsky, D, Victor (N.Y.) / SweetLax
WWill Plansky, M, St. Sebastian’s (Mass.) / Laxachusetts
W – David Sprock, M, Dallas Jesuit (Tex.) / Iron Horse
Chris Cabral, FO/M, St. Paul’s (Md.) / Crabs

In recent years, the Cavaliers have been built on their hard-shooting horses at the midfield. It’s no different with this class, though Dom Starsia supplements them with the nation’s top 2018 in attackman Ross Pridemore. The recent McCallie (Tenn.) transfer is a dynamic and savvy playmaking quarterback who the Wahoos went hard after before securing his pledge a year ago this week. Spearheading a highly athletic midfield group, Grayson Sallade (Manheim Township, Pa) headlines an athletic midfield group and will fit rather seamlessly into their system. Despite bringing in a quartet of five-stars in the 2017 class, they’re still searching for one more defenseman, however they have several nice building blocks on D. In particular, Cade Saustad (Highland Park, Tex.) reminds the coaching staff of former All-ACC Wahoo LSM Mike Timms with his length and athleticism.

3. Duke (@Duke_MLax)

No. 9 Jordan Ginder, FO/M, Deerfield (Mass.) / Team 91
No. 10 Frank Marinello, D, Chaminade (N.Y.) / Team 91
No. 13 Andrew Bonafede, G, Chaminade (N.Y.) / LI Express
No. 15 Sam Dwinell, M, Middlesex (Mass.) / 3d New England
No. 28 Owen Caputo, M, Middle Creek (N.C.) / Team 91
No. 32 Wilson Stephenson, D, Brunswick (Conn.) / Prime Time
W – Braden Burke, LSM, John Jay (Conn.) / Prime Time
WJadon Kerry, M, Chanhassen (Minn.) / Team Minnesota

John Danowski and the Blue Devils are known for getting the most out of eight or nine-man signing classes, going slightly later than their ACC counterparts. The staff really took advantage of their long-standing Long Island ties, locking in five heralded recruits from the tri-state area. NYC product Ginder is an excellent athlete who is a catalyst at the face-off position, while Team 91 teammates Marinello and Caputo (the son of Duke assistant, Ron) are considered some of the best 2018’s. Dwinell was a man amongst boys on the summer circuit and was a phenomenal pickup, while longpoles Burke and Stephenson have considerable upside. The Blue Devils lack an attackman here but are in the mix for No. 22 sophomore Jack Myers from the D.C. area. They also have the top goalie in the class in Bonafede, continuing the Chaminade pipeline.

4. Johns Hopkins (@jhumenslacrosse)

No. 6 Joey Epstein, A, Landon (Md.) / MadLax
No. 12 Joe Neuman, F/O, Salisbury (Conn.) / SweetLax
No. 17 Griffin Westlin, M, Seton Hall Prep (N.J.) / Leading Edge
No. 19 Sean Kuttin, M, Chaminade (N.Y.) / Team 91
No. 26 Michael Ubriaco, LSM, Boys’ Latin (Md.) / Crabs
No. 29 Evan Zinn, M, Staples (Conn.) / Express North
No. 49 Brady Kenneally, D, St. Anthony’s (N.Y.) / LI Express
W – Michael Gomez, D, Half Hollow Hills East (N.Y.) / Team 91
WAlex Mabbett, M, Victor (N.Y.) / SweetLax
Liam Darragh, G, Calvert Hall (Md.) / FCA Maryland
Taite Cattoni, A/M, Rundel College Prep (Alb.) / Evolve Elite – PG ’18
Jack Burnett, A, R.J. Reynolds (N.C.) / Upper Shelf
Neal Brown, M, McCallie (Tenn.) / LB3

Filling up their class early, the Blue Jays have dipped into freshman recruiting more than just about anybody else out there. With that said, this is a class that I’m particularly intrigued to see develop, as there are several prospects that dominated last November but cooled off a bit in the summertime. Epstein – the nation’s first 2018 to commit – is already incredibly proven against elite spring competition and headlines the class. Kuttin, Westlin, Zinn and Mabbett are dynamic dodgers at middie, while Neuman has showed to be nearly automatic at the face-off X. Hopkins will acquire some excellent defensemen over the next few years and all three ’18 commits are great building blocks with different skill sets.

5. Michigan (@umichlacrosse

No. 11 John John Lombardi, M, Salisbury (Conn.) / SweetLax
No. 21 Emmett Jones, D, Lakeridge (Ore.) / 3d Oregon
No. 23 Luke Summers, M, Parkland (Pa.) / Big 4 HHH
No. 36 J.P. Lannig, A, Syosset (N.Y.) / LI Express
No. 39 Alex Bamford, A, Brunswick (Conn.) / Express North
W – Paxton Alexander, M, Highland Park (Tex.) / C2C
W – Rich Dion, D, McDonogh (Md.) / Crabs
W – Javon Johnson, A, St. Anne’s Belfield (Va.) / Duke’s LC, Road Warriors
W – Zach Johnson, M, Landon (Md.) / Madlax
Jack Schlendorf, G, Oregon Episcopal (Ore.) / West Coast Starz, Rhino
Devin Gilligan, D, Shipley School (Pa.) / Duke’s, Big 4 HHH

With plenty to sell about what the university can offer, the Wolverines have gained a tremendous amount of momentum on the recruiting trail. This class is off the charts – it’s deep, balanced at each position and involves talented recruits from all over the map. Hailing from the Rochester area, Lombardi is a versatile and hyper-athletic workhorse, so much of a priority that the Wolverines made him their first domino to fall in the Class of 2018. Around him, there are excitable shooters at attack in Lannig, Bamford and Johnson as well as some touted downhill midfield dodgers with Summers, Alexander and Zach Johnson. In addition, Emmett Jones and Rich Dion were two of the most polished defensemen on the club circuit.

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