2020 Men’s NCAA Season: How Did Our Top 20 Recruits Perform As Freshmen?

We’ve already done a deep dive into our recruiting archives, looking at how the top 20 recruits from the high school class of 2016 did after four NCAA seasons. Now it’s time to look back at a more recent recruit ranking: the current year’s freshmen, whom we ranked in the spring of 2018, then re-ranked one year later after the close of their high school careers.

Relevant links:

Naturally, this analysis has a far smaller sample size than our reports from the past two days, so it’s much more difficult to read too much into these numbers. Still, it’s useful to look at which first-year NCAA swimmers had the best performances relative to their recruiting ranks.

2020 update: we typically use NCAA scoring to help analyze these recruit rankings. With the 2020 NCAA Championships canceled by coronavirus, we lose out on a pretty valuable data point. Still, we make do with what we’ve got, which is projected NCAA scoring (based on the psych sheet) along with NCAA invites and other accolades from the regular season.

The ranks listed below are from our re-rank last summer – they are not current ranks of NCAA athletes. We also do not rank international athletes as recruits, as it’s hard to predict if and when they’ll come to the U.S., and which class with which to include them.


HM=Honorable mention

Rank Name College Team 2020 NCAA Psych Sheet Points Other
1 Brendan Burns Indiana 17.5
2 Jake Foster Texas 10
3 Jack Walker Virginia 7
4 Caspar Corbeau Texas 23
5 Jack Dolan Arizona State 3
6 Ross Dant NC State 14
7 Jack Wright Virginia no invite
8 Noah Bowers NC State no invite
9 Peter Larson Texas roster cap cut
10 Ethan Harder Texas roster cap cut
11 AJ Pouch Virginia Tech NCAA invite
12 Jason Louser Cal 11
13 Liam Bell Alabama 14
14 Hunter Tapp NC State no invite
15 Noah Henderson NC State no invite
16 Jonah Cooper Ohio State NCAA invite
17 Will Myhre Iowa no invite
18 Dillon Downing Georgia NCAA invite
19 Max Saunders USC no invite
20 Sean Conway Virginia no invite
HM Cason Wilburn Notre Dame no invite
HM Shane Blinkman Stanford no invite
HM Luke Thornbrue Notre Dame no invite
HM Zach Hils Georgia no invite
HM River Wright Michigan no invite
HM Derek Maas Alabama 7

The hits:

  • The top of the class looked primed to score big early. Six ranked recruits projected to score double digits.
  • Texas looked to have hits with all four of their ranked recruits. Caspar Corbeau projected to be one of the top three freshman point-scorers. Jake Foster was set to score 10, and didn’t appear to have a full taper yet. Peter Larson and Ethan Harder would have earned NCAA invites, but Texas’s roster cap kept them from being entered. Neither would have projected to score yet, though.
  • We were pretty high on Cal’s Jason Louser and his upside in both rankings. He proved us right with a massive Pac-12 showing and projecting for 11 NCAA points.
  • Alabama’s Liam Bell looked like a great get – though he’s now entered the transfer portal.

The misses:

  • This was supposed to be a massive class for NC State. It’s unclear whether this group just needs a little more time to develop, or whether they were really saving their best stuff for NCAAs with a lot of relay types. Ross Dant looked outstanding, but Noah Bowers, Noah Henderson and Hunter Tapp all missed NCAA invites. They had some smaller drops in at least an event or two, though, and should probably still project as scorers down the road.
  • Same for Virginia, which got #3 overall recruit Jack Walker into position for points, but had Jack Wright and Sean Conway not earn an invite. Wright didn’t drop in the 100, but did go from 4:23 to 4:18 in the 500 and had a marginal 200 drop. Conway dropped in all three of his ACC races, but only marginally: from 1:45.7/3:47.3 IM to 1:45.6/3:46.3.


And of course, we’ll include everyone’s favorite part: which unranked recruits earned NCAA invites and projected to score points this season – both domestic up-and-comers and international pickups.



Name College Team 2020 NCAA Psych Sheet Points
Brooks Curry LSU 28
Jack Hoagland Notre Dame 28
Brennan Gravley Florida 5
Will Gallant Indiana 3
Harry Homans Georgia 1
Kevin Houseman Northwestern 0.33
  • Let’s run through the drops: Brooks Curry was 44.5/1:38.8 in free when we did our senior re-ranks. He went 41.8/1:32.4 and won an SEC title as a rookie.
  • Jack Hoagland had two teammates make honorable mention as recruits. But his drops from 4:22/16:37 free and 3:49 IM to 4:12/14:35 and 3:40 had him in line to outscore anyone else in his entire recruiting class nationwide.
  • That’s not a typo: Kevin Houseman was in three-way tie for 16th in the 100 breast, hence the third of a point.


Name College Team 2020 NCAA Psych Sheet Points
Andres Puente Texas A&M 9
Peter Varjasi Florida State 9
Federico Burdisso Northwestern 3


Here’s a look at the other unranked freshmen to earn 2020 NCAA invites individually:

Other NCAA Invites – 2020
Name Team
Wen Zhang Air Force
Matthew Menke Alabama
Julian Hill Arizona State
Lleyton Smith Auburn
Jan Friese Florida
Kevin Vargas Florida
Ian Grum Georgia
Will Grant Harvard
Abdelrahman Sameh Louisville
Ilia Sibirtsev Louisville
Danny Berlitz Michigan
Brett Champlin Tennessee
Panagiotis Bolanos UNLV
Hunter Armstrong West Virginia
Wes Jekel Wisconsin

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 years ago

The top Alabama swimmers were not really tapered for SECs. We would have seen substantial time drops at NCAAs. Of course, there are many other swimmers who would have dropped time as well. Darn Covid!

2 years ago

Alabama freshman were not tapered for SECs. I fully expect we would have seen substantial time drops at NCAAs.

2 years ago

Um, NC State…. sup?

2 years ago

No ones gonna talk abt Wes jekel 1:43 200 IM?

Pack fanatic
2 years ago

Interesting to see so little of NC state on the list, kind of curious to see how their huge 2021 class, full of studs would feel about that… Other programs seem to have been developing quicker than the pack. Looks like they are on a decline.

2 years ago

Based on these numbers, the top 4 recruiting classes might have been:
1. Texas 33
2. LSU 28
3. Notre Dame 28
4. Alabama 21

Reply to  RTR
2 years ago

Folks, is this swimming or college football??!?!?

Reply to  RTR
2 years ago

Anyone who knows swimming knew the Texas freshmen would produce. Their December invite times were also off minimal rest. The ND and LSU freshmen were exceptional. My Q is would they have dropped more time in Indy?

2 years ago

Instead of “roster cap cut” you should just put 0 points because it doesn’t really matter at this point.

Jared Anderson
Reply to  Jamie
2 years ago

I think there’s a big difference between a swimmer who didn’t qualify for NCAAs and a swimmer who would have if they swam anywhere but Texas. Wanted to try to denote that somehow in our analysis, because it gives better context for how their seasons went.

Reply to  Jared Anderson
2 years ago

Most programs would kill to have athletes like Peter Larson and Ethan Harder.

2 years ago

It’s interesting to see how this list has changed from the initial ranks

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

Read More »