Taking A Look At The Top Five Recruiting Classes In Division I

f4d93295-a8ec-4699-bcf5-c259467cd975Just a few days from now, college lacrosse will be fully underway for every Division I program. As always, a number of new faces will leave their mark, though an ultra-talented Class of 2016 set a high bar last spring. It’s incredibly difficult to predict which classes will be pivotal over the next four years, just like it’s difficult to project how a high school All-American to adjust to the challenges presented at the Division I level.

A friend of mine in the college coaching world once preached “The Rule of Five” in a double-digit class, meaning that regardless of how many new recruits you bring in, you really only need five of them to make an impact and play on game day. Most college programs play 20ish kids in games, so the math works out. Believe it or not, college coaches want 50 percent of their recruited players to pan out. If you’re regularly in excess of the 60-70 percent park, we’re talking about a program that finds NCAA Tournament success. Keeping that in mind, plenty of players in the Recruiting Rundown Top 100 may not tear it up. Plenty of Class of 2017 grads from the Watchlist will surpass the ranked players, and there’s no doubt that several more that didn’t even get mentioned will turn out to have excellent careers when it’s all said in done.

1. Notre Dame 

No. 7 Connor Morin, A, Morristown-Beard (N.J.)
No. 15 Mikey Drake, A/M, Salesianum (Del.)
WL Jacob Frane, M/FO, Mountain Vista (Colo.)
No. 73 Mo Mirer, M, Cathedral Catholic (Ind.)
No. 76 John Hallenbeck, M, Culver (Ind.)
WL Daniel Cassidy, M, Spring-Ford (Pa.)
WL James Littlefield, LSM/D, Hamilton-Wenham (Mass.)
No. 5 Arden Cohen, D, Darien (Conn.)
Davis Allen, A, Pelham Memorial (N.Y.)
No. 25 Matt Schmidt, G, Culver (Ind.)
No. 92 Michael Fay, M, Malvern Prep (Pa.)
No. 57 Carson Cochran, LSM/D, Brother Rice (Mich.)
No. 65 Wheaton Jackoboice, A/M, Culver (Ind.)
Griffin Gallant, LSM/D, Cathedral (Ind.)

Though there’s considerable star power (four five-stars), it’s the overall depth of this Fighting Irish class that jumps off the page. A touted freshman could start at just about every position at some point this spring, with several more expected to see significant minutes throughout the season. The balance is particularly plentiful at the midfield, where Delaware product Mikey Drake is expected to impress as an option on the first line. At attack and defense, respectively, five-stars Connor Morin and Arden Cohen chose the Domers relatively late in the cycle and should be multi-year starters. Gerry Byrne’s heralded defense has been the backbone of the Notre Dame program, and Cohen might even be covering No. 1 attackmen by the end of the year. Well-roundedness of this midfield group and Midwest flavor also stand out, particularly Culver (Ind.) grad and Ohio native Matthew Schmidt in between the pipes.

2. Duke 

No. 29 Cam Badour, M, IMG Academy (Fla.)
No. 31 Joe Robertson, A, St. Anne’s Belfield (Va.)
No. 11 Nakeie Montgomery, M, Episcopal Dallas (Tex.)
J.P. Basile, A, Garden City (N.Y.)
No. 42 Raines Shamburger, LSM, Westminster (Ga.)
Kohl Shaffer, M, Delbarton (N.J.)
WL Matt Chmil, M, Chaminade (N.Y.)
Cam Mule, A, Half Hollow Hills West (N.Y.)
Josh White, D, Noble & Greenough (Mass.)
Trey Bender, M, Episcopal Dallas (Tex.)
No. 37 Joe Stein, F/O, Bullis (Md.)

The Blue Devils brought in a rather offensive-minded group that could be leaned on heavily, as Duke will graduate another highly touted senior class in May. Hailing from Dallas, the highly athletic Montgomery is the headliner in addition to fellow middie Cam Badour, the program’s first Canadian since Zack Greer. Joe Robertson was a pleasant surprise in the preseason, corralling starting duties at attack, while face-off recruit Joseph Stein is expected to help tremendously going forward. Longstick Raines Shamburger and Matt Chmil, a potential candidate at SSDM, are two more names poised to eventually help on the defensive end. With a number of excellent recruiting classes coming in over the next few years, the Blue Devils are undoubtedly set up well for the future.

3. Maryland

No. 3 Bubba Fairman, M, Brighton (Ut.)
No. 6 Justin Shockey, F/O, Landon (Md.)
Kyle Berkeley, M, Calverton (Md.)
Cole Johnston, M, Lake Forest (Ill.)
No. 95 Wade Oursler, M, Gilman (Md.)
WL Peyton Bogard, LSM, Lovett (Ga.)
Jake Martellucci, M, Episcopal Academy (Pa.)
No. 41 James Avanzato, A/M, Sachem North (N.Y.)
Colin Miller, G, Calverton (Md.)
WL Roman Puglise, M, Paul VI (Va.)
Ryder Mora, M, Loyola (Calif.)
WL Kyle Brickerd, A, Broad Run (Va.)
No. 67 Colin Hinton, D, St. John’s (D.C.)
Matt Rahill, D, Springside Chestnut Hill (Pa.)

This class received a massive boost in the fall after securing the services of Navy Prep transfer Justin Shockey, who many felt finished his Landon career as the most decorated face-off man ever at the high school level. Ranked three spots ahead of him is Bubba Fairman, an electrifying playmaker from Utah who has played prep ball in Massachusetts and Maryland and will run both attack and midfield. Other than this pair, “instant impact” may not be written all over this class, though Under Armour All-Americans like Drew Morris (G), James Avanzato (A/M) and Colin Hinton (D) will vie heavily for time over the next two seasons and beyond. Somewhat unheralded Kyle Brickerd will also compete for time on a crowded Terp attack unit and is a sleeper pick.

4. Ohio State 

Hunter Barco, A/M, Dublin Jerome (Oh.)
No. 46 Colby Barker, M, Pittsford (N.Y.)
No. 34 JT Bugliosi, A/M, Calvert Hall (Md.)
Omari DeBerry, M, Calvert Hall (Md.)
Griffin Hughes, M, Olentangy Liberty (Oh.)
No. 12 Justin Inacio, F/O, Hill Academy (Ont.)
Jed Manning, D, Hill Academy (Ont.)
Paxton Marks, D, Episcopal Dallas (Tex.)
No. 14 Jackson Reid, A/M, Culver (Ind.)
Jack Rennillo, G, St. Ignatius (Oh.)
WL Evan Riss, D, Oakland Mills (Md.)
WL Colby Smith, A/M, Hempfield (Pa.)
WL Jackson Smith, M, Paul VI (Va.)

Nick Myers’ Buckeyes have completely reloaded after the program’s first-ever national championship game appearance back in May. This is a group that will see plenty of minutes in 2018, particularly on the offensive end of the field. Five-stars Justin Inacio and Jackson Reid continue Ohio State’s Canadian pipeline – they’ll be crucial pieces of the puzzle at the face-off X and lefty attack, though Reid ran midfield at Culver. Colby Smith, J.T. Bugliosi and Colby Barker have considerable potential to make an impact with the minutes they’re given, while guys like Jackson Smith and Evan Riss are expected to help at shortstick and defense, respectively.

5. North Carolina

No. 8 Alex Trippi, A, Bullis (Md.)
No. 47 Sean Morris, M, Brunswick (Conn.)
No. 44 Ryan O’Connell, M, New Canaan (Conn.)
No. 80 Parker Alexander, M, Highland Park (Tex.)
Ara Atayan, M, Bronxville (N.Y.)
Bailey Laidman, A, Dover-Sherborn (Mass.)
WL Steven Schneider, M, Manhasset (N.Y.)
Kyle Kolwich, D, Holy Trinity (Ont.)
No. 50 Luke Millican, G, Dallas Jesuit (Tex.)
Joe Carrington, D, San Ramon Valley (Calif.)
Jack Kozmetsky, M, Highland Park (Tex.)
Nate Miller, M, Cherry Creek (Colo.)
No. 23 Colin Munro, A, Mountain Vista (Colo.)
Alex Helms, M, Weddington (N.C.)
Kevin Gill, M, Chatham (N.J.)
Matt McLaughlin, M, Harrison (N.Y.)
Patrick Sasser, G, Apex (N.C.)

The Tar Heels have plenty of experience when it comes to bringing in top classes, and this is certainly an interesting one. To me, it’s also really important to consider the fact that Carolina loaded up next year with a blockbuster group that features five five-stars and four four-stars. At the moment, the new kids on the block at UNC are highlighted by lefty scorers (Alex Trippi and Colin Munro) and athletes such as Sean Morris, Ryan O’Connell, and Parker Alexander. Some will be asked to run out of the box or to take d-middie runs to fill needs right off the bat, but will slowly become more comfortable with significant roles as time goes on. Continuing the influx of Texas goalies in the upper tier of Division I, Luke Millican appears poised to be a multi-year starter in goal for UNC. The numbers and depth are there as well, as the Tar Heels took several walk-ons.

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