After a week off from the mailbag while players signed on the dotted line, it’s time to roll out a National Signing Week theme. I received a ton of questions but wanted to focus on two that required long answers, so I’ll be rolling out another NLI mailbag column on Tuesday after the conclusion of the event season. This week, we talk about the prowess of Ivy League recruiting in addition to taking a look at the top three classes at this point, keeping in mind that a lot can change between now and the fall of 2018.
While on the topic of signing day, make sure to check out my appearance on last week’s Inside Lacrosse recruiting podcast with Terry Foy and Dan Aburn. We discussed the recent activity of Notre Dame, Utah, Navy, Hopkins and Virginia, among other subjects.
To submit a question for the upcoming mailbags, send me a DM (@tyxanders) or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll answer just about anything involving recruiting – questions can also be kept anonymous by request.
Obviously, switching commitments is big right now across the board in Division I. What I’ve noticed is that Ivies are becoming increasingly active in the flipping game, especially with touted players in the Class of 2018. Can you talk more about that trend and the overall talent level heading to the Ivy League next year? -Jeff S. in New Jersey
Due to the nature of early recruiting, Ivies will continue to thrive when it comes to prospects switching to them, at least while the new recruiting rules are grandfathered in. So many players commit early, raise grades and test scores before becoming able to move up an academic tier. While Ivy League programs are certainly involved in the act of poaching, tons of committed prospects are being assertive and reaching out to the schools on their own.
When it comes to the 2018’s, I feel strongly that this is a class that should be called the best incoming group of Ivy League prospects in quite some time, if not ever. While a Top 100 doesn’t give a full scope of the talent out there, 26 Ivy-bound players were ranked this year – eight more than the Class of 2017 a year ago. Here are some more numbers:
– Four schools in the 2018 class had four or more prospects in the Top 100: seven each for Harvard and Yale along with four each for Penn and Princeton. Last year, Harvard was the only school with more than three, checking in with seven ranked recruits. Keep in mind that this isn’t incredibly current, as I won’t be releasing the final Class of 2017 college freshmen rankings until January or February.
– Of the 23 seniors that have flipped to the Ivies, 11 of those players are ranked. Last year, that number was just two for ’17s: Under Armour All-American longpoles Adrian Enchill (Notre Dame to Brown) and Chris Fake (Virginia to Yale). I’m also hearing that a current Top 100 senior recently de-committed from a top program and will be going public with a certain Ivy in the coming weeks.
– Six 2018’s have switched commitments within the Ivy League: Cornell to Dartmouth, Brown to Cornell to Harvard, Dartmouth to Princeton, Cornell to Princeton, Cornell to Harvard and Princeton to Harvard. Meanwhile, five 2018’s have switched commitments away from the Ivy League, verballing to Notre Dame (x3), Virginia and Hopkins.
At this point, who would you say are the top candidates to sign the No. 1 recruiting class? –Rick in Maryland
It won’t exactly come as a shock to go with three ACC powers in UNC, Notre Dame and Virginia. A few schools that aren’t involved in National Letters of Intent – Yale, Navy and Harvard, to name a few – also bring in excellent groups.
Joe Breschi is certainly no stranger to top-ranked recruiting classes. Quite frankly, it wouldn’t be farfetched to say that this group that he signed might be the most loaded incoming class during his time in Chapel Hill. The big topic of conversation over the last several months has been No. 3 senior Ricky Miezan (Episcopal, Va.), who could play both football and lacrosse for the Heels. Word is that he won’t sign but will almost certainly wind up in Carolina blue. Even if you were to hypothetically take him out of the equation, this is a class that looks pretty insane on paper. Defensively, they’ll have a pair of mean and athletic five-star recruits in No. 2 Will Bowen (Boston College HS, Mass.) and No. 11 Evan Egan (Torrey Pines, Calif.) – not bad, right? On top of that, Carolina signed three attackmen ranked in the overall Top 30: No. 6 Jacob Kelly (Calvert Hall, Md.), No. 14 Brian Cameron (Bishop Guertin, N.H.) and No. 30 Nicky Solomon (Centennial, Ga.) make a loaded unit. However, I feel as though at least one of them will run out of the box considering the fact that the cupboard is never bare for the Tar Heels’ attack. In general, this is a class that fills a lot of needs since a total of 26 players will depart over the next two years. Breschi & Co. will bring in five other excellent middies (the Schertzinger twins from Ohio lead the way) along with No. 59 senior Caton Johnson (Manheim Township, Pa.), who will not only add to the much-needed goalie depth but is expected to fight for minutes right away.
Is there a class more intriguing than Notre Dame? The Fighting Irish entered the summer with just a handful of recruits, headlined by five-star PG longpole Jose Boyer (Yorktown, N.Y. / Deerfield, Mass.) and speedy No. 33 senior Ramsey McCreary (Woodlands, Tex.), to name a few. Well, all they’ve done since then is flip five more prospects, giving ND a grand total of eight recruits formerly committed to other programs. In just a week’s time earlier this fall, the Irish added two of the most electric offensive playmakers in No. 4 Quentin Buchman (Santa Margarita Catholic, Calif.) and No. 16 Griffin Westlin (Seton Hall Prep, N.J.) to stretch opposing defenses in the future. They switched from Boston U. and Hopkins respectively, while other players in the class were once committed to Princeton, Loyola, Lehigh, Penn (x2) and BU. Specifically, I’d look for the sleepers to be on the defensive side of the ball: I’m a big fan of likely d-middie Jake Moss (Lawrenceville, N.J. postgrad) and gritty cover man Griffin Hawthorne (Massapequa, N.Y.), who is a relative unknown to many since he doesn’t play club lacrosse. On Tuesday evening, the Notre Dame made waves by snagging No. 97 Justin Cheng (Beckman, Calif.), a terror of a LSM after he made a last minute flip from Bryant.
Virginia also made a number of notable moves with the Class of 2018 recruits, poaching three Top 100 offensive stalwarts and most recently getting five-star lefty attackman Payton Cormier (Oakville Trafalgar, Ont.) to come a year earlier than expected. In addition, a few of Dom Starsia’s recruits are no longer committed to the Wahoos. They have to feel good about bringing in No. 9 Cade Saustad (Highland Park, Tex.), a rangy football standout who could flourish at either LSM or close D, along with the nation’s top senior goalie in No. 19 Patrick Burkinshaw (Brunswick, Conn.) to add to the competition. Midfield wise, it’s an embarrassment of riches with five-stars No. 17 Jeff Conner (Strath Haven, Pa.) and No. 20 Jack Simmons (McDonogh, Md.) along with No. 46 Grayson Sallade (Manheim Township, Pa.), who projects higher in college. UVA had a pair of non-hotbed 2017 Under Armour All-Americans decide to PG and take gap years, while No. 48 Xander Dickson (Brunswick, Conn.) could very well outperform his ranking. Watch out for underrated F/O middie Petey LaSalla (Rocky Point, N.Y.) to make an instant impact as well. Looking forward, they’ll bring in a loaded 2019 class, namely the No. 1 overall recruit in Charlottesville product Connor Shellenberger.