After this week’s unveiling of the Top 100 recruits in Division I (Top 50 here, 51-100 here), it’s time to list the recruiting classes that are sure to take the college ranks by storm over the next four years. Not surprisingly, ACC and Big 10 powerhouses account for eight of the top ten positions along with two notable Ivy League programs.
The Blue Devils took a major hit in the offseason after graduating 15 seniors, including first teamers Myles Jones and Deemer Class, among others. However, the arrival of this freshman class couldn’t have come at a better time, as this offense-heavy group will help supplant the departure of the aforementioned alpha-males. Among its six Under Armor All-Americans, five saw minutes in Duke’s season-opening loss to Air Force. Joey Manown (2G’s on Saturday) will likely have the opportunity to be a perennial starter on attack, using his innate combination of toughness, quicks and goal-scoring ability. Kevin Quigley, Reilly Walsh and Terry Lindsay are expected to have big careers out of the midfield, while J.T. Giles-Harris has already assumed starting duties down low. Brian Smyth has a variety of skill sets, including at the face-off X, and should make some sort of impact, while Minnesota native and fellow middie Blake Leischow is the sleeper of the group.
Energy was injected into UVA’s program this past summer with the hiring of Lars Tiffany and his former assistants at Brown, bringing a fast-paced and entertaining style of play to Charlottesville. With this group of first-years, the Wahoos will get the athletes needed for that style of play, and the youth movement starts with Dox Aitken at the midfield. Also likely to be relied on heavily over the next few years, lefty attackman Michael Kraus and 6-foot-5 LSM Jared Conners are set to see extensive minutes right off the bat. Highly athletic, hard-shooting middie Milan Murray has the upside, as does attackman Mitch Gordon, who fared well in the preseason. Face-off man Luke Brugel and goalie Griffin Thompson are two more to watch.
3. Notre Dame
ND’s another squad that lost a lot of meaningful contributors to graduation, including Matt Kavanagh on attack and Matt Landis on defense. Luckily for the Irish, eight Top 100 recruits matriculated their way and while this class doesn’t scream ‘instant impact’, they’ll be groomed to be impactful over the next few years. Jack Kielty has impressed coaches with his longstick play between the lines, while Bryan Costabile and Tommy McNamara are capable as d-middies or creating offense in transition. Down on attack, Brian Willetts has the size, skills and shot to continue the program’s knack for producing high-scoring attackmen. A quartet of Top 100 players – defensemen Jacob Kanak and Mike Farnish, attackman Stephen Chase and face-off man Kyle Hyland – may not see a ton of burn in Year 1 but all have the makings to see time going forward.
Expectations are high in Homewood in 2017, which includes a touted group of freshmen balanced across all positions on the field. Defenseman Jack Rapine has already locked down a starting spot, flourishing in the opener against Navy along with fellow newcomer Owen Colwell, who plays man-down. Cole Williams and Forry Smith will see plenty of minutes as playmakers on a crowded attack, as they’re simply too talented to keep on the sidelines for too long. Several others will provide depth all over the field at a minimum, including Under Armour All-American goalie Jacob Giacalone. The Blue Jays have a ton of committed talent coming to Baltimore in the next few classes, but this current group is one that could very well help serve as catalysts for a Final Four run in the future.
5. North Carolina
The defending champion Tar Heels have plenty of returning talent this time around, so this class may not asked to do a whole lot just yet. The exception, of course, lies at the midfield, where Justin Anderson and Will Perry have thrived on the first two midfields. Anderson is a unique story within our sport: a former top five recruit in out of Vegas in the Class of 2014 who took his Mormon mission in Chile for two years, showing no signs of rust so far in Chapel Hill. Returning starter Brian Balkam likely has the job in cage locked down, but Jack Pezzulla has what it takes to push for time and eventually become the starter. The rest of the class may have to wait their turn and learn the system, but there’s no shortage of skill from top to bottom.
Top 100: No. 1 Bernhardt (A/M), No. 48 Welding (D), No. 61 Carrara (LSM/D), No. 63 Shollenberger (A), No. 57 DeMaio (A), No. 71 Masci (M)
Top 100: No. 9 Cotler (M), No. 24 Morrill (A), No. 42 Weitzel (LSM/D), No. 72 Gaudet (A), No. 75 Ward (M)
Top 100: No. 32 Anderson (A), No. 44 Loring (M), No. 47 Botkiss (LSM/D), No. 57 Magno (M), No. 70 Strupp (D), No. 94 Follows (M)
9. Penn State
Top 100: No. 13 Arceri (F/O), No. 16 O’Keefe (A), No. 43 McEvoy (FO/M), No. 98 Smith (A)
Top 100: No. 27 Trimboli (M), No. 45 DiPietro (D), No. 55 Wisnauskas (A), No. 58 Dearth (M)
Top 100: No. 4 Walker (A), No. 40 Logan (M), No. 56 Smith (M), No. 90 Harnisch (A)
Top 100: No. 22 Goss (G), No. 30 Finlay (D), No. 91 Brown (D), No. 95 Kniffin (A/M)
Top 100: No. 7 McNulty (LSM), No. 73 Railey (D), No. 96 Swindell (M), No. 100 Bonham (A)
14. Ohio State
Top 100: No. 23 LeClaire (M), No. 29 Feliziani (F/O), No. 62 Kirson (G), No. 83 Terefenko (M)
Top 100: No. 35 Myers (M), No. 63 Trowbridge (G), No. 82 Adams (A), No. 85 Ford (M)