Ranking the 2016 Men’s NCAA Recruiting Classes: #9-12

Following the blitz from Trials, we’re back for our now-long-overdue look at the 2016 men’s recruiting classes.  If you missed our women’s rankings, you can catch up here.

Again, here’s some notes on our methodology:

  • The rankings numbers listed for some individuals are from our pre-recruiting season rankings done almost a full year ago. Had we re-ranked these swimmers today (including some previously-unknown internationals putting their hat in the ring), the rankings would undoubtedly be different.
  • Like most of our rankings, these placements are subjective.  Rankings are based on a number of factors, including prospect’s incoming times, team needs filled, prospect’s potential upside, class size, and potential relay impact.  Greater weight is placed on known success in short course yards.
  • Transfer are included, but devalued, depending on the number of remaining years
  • We’ve linked to some of the athletes’ commitment announcement pages.  For the full list of committed athletes, click here

Here are the 9th-through-12th-ranked Men’s NCAA Swimming & Diving classes (plus some honorable mentions), with the top 8 to follow Thursday and Friday of this week:

#12: Harvard Crimson

Top-tier additions: Daniel Chang, Dean Farris, Kevin Dai, Zachary Snyder, Ralph Marcoux
The rest: n/a

The Crimson edged Arizona–our first class out–by the narrowest of margins.  The Wildcats have the #7 recruit from our rankings last July (Thomas Anderson), but with just three swimmers in the class and the improvement from Harvard’s five guys this past season, the Ivy League runner-ups got the nod.

Dean Farrisis the key difference-maker.  In his senior season, the Atlanta-bred swimmer turned from a solid freestyle/backstroke combo recruit into a top-15 recruit with an eye-popping four-month stretch.  Between Winter Juniors, the Georgia High School State Championships, and NCSA Spring Juniors, he clocked best times of 20.0/43.8/1:36.0 in the 50/100/200 free, 47.4/1:43.0 backstrokes, 21.8/47.7 butteflies, and a 1:47.8 200 IM.  All of those are top 10 at the Ivy League championships, with the 100 free, 200 free, and 200 back times all inside the top 4.

Farris wasn’t the only one who had a big senior season.  Daniel Chang cut nearly 1.5 seconds off his 100 breast (55.2 down to 53.9), and over a second off his 200 (1:59.7 to 1:58.5).  His 49.6 100 fly and 50.0 100 back also makes him an excellent IMer (1:46.5) that will score serious points on the conference level right away.

The other three swimmers in this class will all add to Harvard’s already strong freestyle group.  Kevin Dai (20.4/44.8 freestyles) and Ralph Marcoux (20.5/45.1) have potential to be highly-productive sprinters at the conference level, while Zachary Snyder trends more towards the longer events (45.3/1:37.4/4:23.9 in the 100/200/500).

#11: Virginia Cavaliers

Top-tier additions: #20 Ted Schubert, Jared Norton, Joe Clark, John Whiteside, Kyle Ward, Ryan Baker
The rest: Bryce Shelton (diving), Henry Keel, Jason Quinn, Samson Miller (diving), Nick Switzer

There has been plenty of well-publicized turnover for the Virginia men, but between last year’s class of nine athletes and these eleven names, Augie Busch and company appear to be ship.  This class is chock-full of talent, and while the Cavaliers are still at least a couple years away from being in the same realm as NC State, they should battle for second place at ACC’s in short order.  Let’s knock this group out in bullets:

  • Ted Schubertwas the #20 recruit in our rankings last July, but he hit another level this season to become an every-man Virginia needs.  His 4:21.5 500 freestyle is faster than any Cavalier from ACC’s, and his 1:44.5 200 fly and 3:47.0 400 IM both would have easily made the A-final.  He’s also shown plenty of speed, with 22.8/47.9 backstrokes (on top of a 1:45.3 in the 200) and 21.8/47.6 butterflies.
  • Virginia addressed their serious needs in sprint freestyle and backstroke (they didn’t have a top-12 finisher in the 50 or 100 freestyle, or anybody inside the top 20 in the 100 back) with the addition of Ryan Baker and John Whiteside.  They’ve been 44.9 and 44.2 in the 100 free, respectively, and are both solid backstrokers, as well.  Baker’s bests are 22.6/48.6/1:44.9 (along with a 22.3 flat-start 50 fly), and Whiteside has been 22.8/49.1/1:46.7.  British sprinter Joe Clark (51.4 LCM 100 free, 55.3 LCM 100 fly), helps, too.
  • Jared Norton (55.3/1:57.6 breaststrokes, 1:48.9 200 IM) helps address the massive breaststroke void left by the graduation of NCAA qualifier Yannick Kaeser.
  • Kyle Ward, a 22.4/47.9 butterflyer, adds more depth to Virginia’s young fly group (their two fastest 100 flyers were freshmen last season)

#10: Arizona State Sun Devils

Top-tier additions:Andrew Porter (transfer), Cameron Craig, Ben Olszewski, Zachary Poti, Joe Molinari
The rest: Nils Lervik, Sydney Kao, James Scott

The Bob Bowman effect.  The Sun Devils  have long been an afterthought in the highly-competitive Pac-12, but that may change in the next few seasons if they keep bringing in talent like this.  Arizona transfer Andrew Porteris the biggest name of this  class.  A two-time NCAA qualifier, Porter has slowly shifted from the 200 IM, to sprint freestyle and butterfly.  His 1:44.8 200 IM is impressive, but his 100 fly is where he can do the most damage; his 45.5 would have been good for a 6th place finish at NCAA’s this season.  He’ll immediately boost both Sun Devil medleys, along with their freestyle relays (he’s been 19.7 in the 50).  The downside: he has just one or two years of eligibility remaining.

Cameron Craigis the top four-year recruit, coming off a huge senior year.  The Monroe, Michigan native is a three-stroke threat who recently cut a full second off his 100 free (44.1), 100 fly (47.5), and 100 back (47.3), and more than three seconds of his 200 IM (1:45.4).  Craig’s times all flirt with Pac-12 A-finals, and the IM is in striking distance of an NCAA invite.  He’ll ASU has a strong sprint duo in Tadas Duskinas (free and fly) and Richard Bohus (free and back), but they’ll both be seniors this season.  In addition, the Sun Devils didn’t have a single swimmer under 1:48 this season in the 200 IM.

Bowman also fortified the IM and distance groups within-state star Ben Olszewski and Bay Area native Joe Molinari.  At 4:21.5/15:22.0 in the 500/1650, Olszewski is one of the best distance recruits in ASU history, and is nearly the fastest swimmer on the Sun Devil roster in both events.  Molinari, who hails from a critically-acclaimed Palo Alto Stanford Aquatics team, is a 1:47.6/3:50.6 IMer with a really his strong front half (48.8/1:46.4 butterfly, 49.1/1:45.2 backstroke).

Backstroker Zachary Poti  is the last piece we’ll mention, but he’s a critical one; ASU had zero freshmen or sophomores competing in the 100 or 200 backstroke at Pac-12’s this year, meaning their entire backstroke core from the 2015-16 season will be gone after next March.  Poti brings in personal bests of 22.8/48.3/1:45.8 across the three backstrokes, giving the Sun Devils some much-needed youth

#9: Tennessee Volunteers

Top-tier additions: #13 Taylor Abbott, Braga Verhage, Gleb Ionichev, Matthew Garcia, Alec Connolly
The rest: Jared Clance, Timothy Raab

The Volunteers jumped up a couple spots with their recent addition of  Gleb Ionichev, Israel’s #2 sprinter.  Ionichev is a 22.8/50.6 LCM freestyler, which should land somewhere in the neighborhood of 19.7-19.9 and 44.0-44.3.  In addition, his 24.9 50 LCM butterfly illustrates his sprint fly potential, and while he’s not very polished at finishing the 100 fly in a long course pool, the short course yards version of the event likely suits him a bit better (more power, less endurance).

Joining Ionichev will be Australian Braga Verhage, another stud international sprint recruit Matt Kredich was able to land.  Verhage is an excellent freestyle/butterfly combo sprinter, as well, boasting personal bests of 22.2/50.4 in the 50/100 SCM freestyles (around 20.0/45.5) and 23.5/53.6 in the 50/100 SCM butterfly (around 21.4/48.3).  Both guys will be instant impact relays guys, especially with the graduation of Sean Lehane and Gustav Aberg Lejdstrom.

One more sprinter to throw in the mix: in-state sprinter Alec Connolly, a potential hidden gem who just recently began taking swimming seriously.  In just two seasons of serious swimming, Connolly has gone from a 22.0/47.4 to 20.5/45.0, and also nearly cracked 20 seconds in a relay at a summer league meet last year.  It typically takes swimmers with limited experience longer to adjust to the demands of collegiate swimming, but the associated upside of a swimmer like Connolly is tremendous.

Tennessee landed some impactful guys outside of the sprint freestyle realm, as well, including distance star Taylor Abbott, our #13 recruit.  Abbott (4:20.4/15:01.5)  joins one of the strongest distance training environments in the country, where he’ll join David Heron and Evan Pinion (who is coming back from an injury) under primary distance coach Tyler Fenwick.  His best times easily put him in the top 16 at SEC’s, and are well within range of getting to NCAA’s next season.

With the graduation of perennial All-American Sean Lehane, backstroker Matthew Garcia might be the most important pick up in this class.  At 47.9/1:45.2, Garcia is the fastest 100 backstroker on the Volunteer roster by over a half-second, and is second-fastest in the 200.  With just one returning backstroke swimmer from SEC’s (sophomore Joey Reilman), Tennessee really needs Garcia to play a big role immediately.

Come back tomorrow for #5-8

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JP Input is too short
4 years ago

Really like Tennessee’s class. They picked up a lot of depth and did about as well finding a replacement backstroker for Lehane as they could. If Pinion can come back strong (is it just me or is he injured really often?) that puts them up there in distance groups with Stanford, Texas, Florida and South Carolina (don’t laugh, they had 2 guys in the top 8 at NCAAs!).

Jadeveon Clowney
Reply to  JP Input is too short
4 years ago

Tennessee also gained Nathan Murray from Swim Mac who isn’t mentioned here. He has some pretty decent backstroke times, especially the 200.

JP Input is too short
Reply to  Jadeveon Clowney
4 years ago

Interesting – 49.1/1:44 with a 4:24 500 and 3:53 IM is very solid.

Reply to  JP Input is too short
4 years ago

Pinion’s current injury is the same one from his freshman year that required him to redshirt and sit out the end of his redshirted sophomore year. It’s a hip injury that reoccurred and required a second surgery in April. So while he’s “injured really often” it’s still the same injury.

JP Input is too short
Reply to  Swimfan
4 years ago

Now that I did not know. Thanks for the background! Hopefully this time the stitch up sticks.

Reply to  JP Input is too short
4 years ago

now that you bring it up, Pinion didn’t swim at Trials this summer. I wonder if his career is over….hope not

Reply to  weirdo
4 years ago

His career is not over at this moment. He had surgery in April and took an extended recovery since he knew he wouldn’t be competitive at Trials coming off surgery. He is back in the water.

Reply to  Swimfan
4 years ago

Wasn’t that the story last summer too? Hope the Vols have a good insurance plan.

Reply to  weirdo
4 years ago

No it wasn’t. It was 2013 when his first surgery occurred. The injury occurred during his high school season senior year. Surgery followed in July before his freshman at UT. He competed during the 2014 and 2015 long course seasons.

4 years ago

I don’t like how you put ”the rest” to describe some swimmers… at least put their best times or something like that :C

Tea rex
4 years ago

Will these reviews include returning Olympic red shirts? Kalisz, Shane Ryan, Condorelli, D.Carter, Kremer, et al will make it an interesting year…

About Morgan Priestley

Morgan Priestley

A Stanford University and Birmingham, Michigan native, Morgan Priestley started writing for SwimSwam in February 2013 on a whim, and is loving that his tendency to follow and over-analyze swim results can finally be put to good use. Morgan swam competitively for 15+ years, primarily excelling in the mid-distance freestyles. While …

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