Ranking the 2017 Men’s NCAA Recruiting Classes: #1-4

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The day is finally here for us to cap our annual recruit class rankings with the top 4 classes on the men’s side. There are 4 monster classes left on the board that together comprise 12 of the top 20 recruits in our individual recruit rankings from just over a year ago.

Please read these notes:

  • The rankings numbers listed for some individuals are from our pre-recruiting season rankings done more than 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, so foreign swimmers are slightly devalued because of their inexperience in SCY.
  • Transfers are included, and there were a lot of big ones this summer.
  • For the full list of the 1200+ committed athletes, click here.

Now without further ado, here are the top 4 classes:

#4: Stanford Cardinal

Top-tier additions: #3 Matthew Hirschberger (MD – distance free), #14 Alex Liang (CA – IM), #13 Brennan Pastorek (GA – IM/breast)
The rest: Alberto Mestre, Glen Cowand, Johannes Calloni, Jordan Greenberg

Stanford has been steadily beefing up its distance corps the past few recruiting cycles, and they got the best pure miler of 2017 to add to their army. Matthew Hirschberger has been 14:51 in the 1650 – that’s the second-best time in the class behind only Sean Grieshop, who projects more as a IMer/all-arounder. Hirschberger has also been 4:16 in the 500, which puts him a stone’s throw from NCAA scoring. The downsides with Hirschberger are that he’s fairly one-dimensional (1:37.1 is his top 200 free time) and that he hasn’t been back under 15 minutes in the mile since 2014.

Still, if there’s one place Hirschberger can be pushed back to his great age group bests, it’s Stanford, where he’ll join elite training partners Grant Shoults and True Sweetser.

Brennan Pastorek was more of a breaststroker when we ranked these guys last summer, but his IMs have blown up, particularly his 200, which is down to 1:46.0. Alex Liang follows his older brother Andrew to the Farm, and brings in top-shelf IM times of 1:45.9 and 3:46.7 himself. Pastorek also has 54/1:57 breaststroke speed and Liang can go 1:45 in fly and back, plus 1:36.6 in freestyle.

The versatility of those two is vital, because the rest of the class is very specialized. Alberto Mestre and Jordan Greenberg are both prototypical sprinters in the low 20-points. The 6-foot-8 Mestre (20.0/44.5) is the son of a Venezuelan Olympian, and Greenberg (20.3/45.0) is the younger brother of several Division I talents, including his brother Aaron, who was an Olympic hopeful sprinter for Israel.

Johannes Calloni is pretty much a pure miler, but right on the cusp of the 15:00 barrier. Glen Cowand is one of the class’s solid backstrokers, with a 47.4 in the 100 and some decent sprint free potential.

#3: Florida Gators

Top-tier additions: #5 Michael Taylor (GA – back), Gerry Quinn (Ireland – free), Clark Beach (VA – back/IM), Ethan Beach (VA – back), Grant Sanders (Arizona transfer – IM/free)
The rest: Erge Gezmis, Tate Callahan, Marty Stange, Santi Corredor

If you’ve noticed a relative dearth of backstrokers in the rest of the classes, it’s because Florida hogged them all. That’s only partially a joke. The Gators got the premiere backstroker in the class in Michael Taylorranked #5 in our list from last summer. At the time, we projected some further drops coming from Taylor based on long course success, and the Dynamo senior came through. He cut from 47.1 to an insane 45.5 in the 100 back, plus 1:41.9 to 1:41.0 in the 200. That 100 back time would have scored at NCAAs last year, making Taylor one of only four swimmers coming in the door with NCAA scoring times.

On top of that, he’s cut down to 44.8 in the 100 free, 1:35.1 in the 200, and should be a four-to-five relay threat from the moment he steps on campus in Gainesville. And with Caeleb Dressel around for one more year, if last year’s big-recruit breaststroker Chandler Bray puts it together, we could see a Gator medley relay chomp right through the entire NCAA.

Florida also got Virginia twin brothers Clark Beach and Ethan Beachboth of whom are big backstroke prospects. Clark is 1:41.3 in the 200 and 47.4 in the 100 with solid IM potential, and Ethan has been 1:44 and 49 in the backstrokes.

Grant Sanders is one of the top two or three transfers of the offseason, coming from Arizona. Sanders sat out a year to complete his transfer, swimming to great success with St. Petersburg Aquatics in Florida. He went lifetime-bests in almost every event, including 200 IM (1:45.68), 400 IM (3:44.94), 200 free (1:35.23) and 100 free (44.34) during his transition year. Those IM times could make Sanders the next Jan Switkowski, as a high-ceiling transfer that seems tailor-made for coach Gregg Troy‘s system.

Gerry Quinn out of Ireland is a token international pickup for Florida, which typically does very well with long course transitions. Quinn’s been 50.00 in the 100 free and 1:50.85 in the 200 free long course, and could develop as a relay weapon in the college-sized pool.

With the rest of the class, Florida is starting to feel the Dressel effect, with a pair of 20-second sprinters (Tate Callahan, Marty Stange) committing to a school once criticized as a sprint destination. Then Troy went abroad for Turkish freestyler Erge Gezmis and stayed local for Florida high school state champ mid-distance/IMer Santi Corredor.

#2: Texas Longhorns

Top-tier additions: #6 Austin Katz (FL – back/free), #10 Chris Yeager ( – distance free), #12 Sam Pomajevich (VA – fly/free), Parker Neri (OH – free)
The rest: JohnThomas Larson, Colter Carman, Luke Bowman, Braedyn Ringgold, Jordan Windle (diver)

The only big-time backstroker to escape Florida’s grasp was Austin Katzwho could very well turn out to be the best of them all. Katz will swim at World University Games this weekend with a chance to build some momentum into his freshman season, and he comes in with top times of 47.06 and 1:41.48 in the short course yard backstrokes. Katz is also very good long course, and can go 44.4 and 1:36.0 in the 100 yard and 200 yard freestyles, making him a possible future relay weapon.

Sam Pomajevich might be the fastest-rising swimmer in the nation for this class, and he comes in with an NCAA scoring time in the 200 fly – only three other swimmers in the entire class have an NCAA scoring-level time out of high school. Pomajevich has been 1:41.88 in that fly, plus 47.49 in the 100 fly and 1:35.58 in the 200 free. And the drops to get there have been massive: Pomajevich cut almost three seconds in his 200 fly, a full second in his 200 free and a half-second in his 100 fly over the course of his senior year.

That 200 free time highlights the event in which Texas has really loaded up with this recruiting class and next year’s. Katz and Pomajevich are both among the better 200 freestylers in this class, and Parker Neri is actually faster than both.

Not many will know the name Parker Neri right now, but don’t make the mistake of forgetting it. He’s only been swimming year-round since the summer of 2016, and his times have soared off the charts since then. Here’s a quick look at his improvement curves in his best three events:

Senior Junior Sophomore Freshman
200 free 1:35.23 1:39.43 1:43.65 1:55.74
100 free 44.19 46.47 53.67 54.02
500 free 4:23.03 4:28.26 4:35.09 5:07.61

Neri’s progression suggests he could be a John Shebat type, a lesser-known recruit who becomes a massive NCAA weapon within just a couple years on campus.

The rest of the class has its upside. JohnThomas Larson is very versatile and has good natural size. The question for him will be where he specializes, as he has 4:16/15:11 speed in distance but 1:46/3:51 talent in the IMs. Colter Carman is a local distance man who had a nice winter, and Luke Bowman is another Texas product who has dropped from 52.9 to 50.7 and 1:55.0 to 1:50.7 in the backstrokes over his senior year.

To top it all off, Texas got another good diver for its stable, with Jordan Windle coming in after representing Team USA at the 2017 World Championships.

#1: California Golden Bears

Top-tier additions: #1 Ryan Hoffer (AZ – sprint everything), #2 Sean Grieshop (TX – IM/distance free), #11 Bryce Mefford (CA – free/back/IM), #15 Trenton Julian (CA – IM/fly/free), #16 Daniel Carr (CO – back/IM)
The rest: Jackson Gabler (diver), James Daugherty, Jarod Hatch, Nate Biondi

Right up top, Ryan Hoffer in a class by himself would be top 4. He’s the best sprint prospect the NCAA has seen since Caeleb Dressel, and that’s saying something. Hoffer is good in just about anything that can help a relay. He’s 18.71 in the 50 free (which would have been 3rd at NCAAs last year). He’s 41.23 in the 100 free (would have been 4th last year). He’s also 45.58 in the 100 back (would have been 11th) and 45.46 in the 100 fly (would have been 6th).

On top of that, Hoffer is probably better at the 50s of both of those strokes, so he could be an impact piece at 3 of the 4 medley relay slots, giving Cal supreme versatility in putting together its best relays.

And what better way to supplement the #1 recruit in the class than getting the #2 as well? Sean Grieshop is a junior world record-holder in the long course 400 IM, and where Hoffer is the best and most versatile sprinter in the class, Grieshop is the best and most versatile distance swimmer. He’s got an NCAA scoring time of 14:45.40 in the mile. He’s also a 3:44.30 400 IMer, but probably has even more potential than that based on a 4:14.00 long course time. Same for the 200 IM (1:46.58 short course, 2:01.83 long course).

Grieshop can also come down to relay distance with some improvement to his 1:36.52 200 freestyle, and he’s a 1:58 breaststroker to boot. The downside is that Grieshop didn’t have a great senior year in short course or long course and some of his top times are now a few years old. But a talent level like Grieshop’s is hard to deny, and after a down year, a change of scenery might be the best thing for him.

Beyond those two, Cal added three more top-20 recruits to finish with exactly a quarter of our top 20 recruits in the class. All five are wildly versatile. Bryce Mefford is a home-state product who’s had his latest breakthroughs in freestyle (19.9/43.6/1:34.6), but was originally projected as a backstroker (47.3/1:42.1) or IMer (1:45.4). Oh, and he’s 46.8 in the 100 fly, just in case any of those other 6 events don’t work out.

Fellow Californian Trenton Julian is more centered around butterfly (47.8/1:45.8) but also has 1:47.3/3:52.4 IMs and a 1:36.2 freestyle in his back pocket. Colorado’s Daniel Carr comes down from altitude with backstroke times of 46.7 and 1:42.7, plus a 1:45.9 200 IM (he’s 3:52.9 in the 400) and an intriguing 44.0 freestyle.

While Texas has crushed recruiting in the 200 frees lately, this Cal class is sneaky-good there too. Here’s a look at the top 800 free relay prospects in this group:

  • Mefford: 1:34.66
  • Hoffer: 1:35.27
  • Julian: 1:36.21
  • Hatch: 1:36.45
  • Grieshop: 1:36.52

The rest of the class is high-upside. Jarod Hatch has the above-mentioned 1:36 in the 200 free, plus a 47.4 in the 100 fly that’s dropped down from 49.6 in the past year. James Daugherty is a Bolles breaststroker with 54-speed in the 100 and almost a sub-two-minute 200. Nate Biondi is of course, the son of Olympic hero Matt Biondi, and has quietly cut his 50 free from 21.6 to 20.2 and his 100 from 46.5 to 44.3 in a little more than a year.

And Cal counters Texas with at least one diver of its own, Jackson Gabler, who has been a semifinalist at the national level.

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3 years ago

Wow with these classes it’s gonna be Cal/Texas battling for the title for years to come

Reply to  DMacNCheez
3 years ago

These recruiting rankings are fun and keep recruit-aholics interested for months prior to the start of any sports season. Just imagine how much interest and controversy there is for the university football and basketball boards!
But as someone pointed out, the only rankings that matter are the results for teams and their swimmers at the END of a season. Case in point are the 3 seniors USC just graduated – two High School record holders (Stumph and Davis) and an Age Group record holder (Domagala). Stumph was Pac 12 champ but overall this group didn’t prove to be major NCAA point-winners for the Trojans that their credentials would have indicated when they were being recruited.
Recruiting is always… Read more »

crooked donald
3 years ago

To just put it over the top, Dean Farris is transferring to Cal.

Deep South
Reply to  crooked donald
3 years ago

Surprised this hasn’t been widely published if true

Reply to  crooked donald
3 years ago

Wow…interesting. And, a rather bold comment. How do you know this? Or is this a strong wish? He did so well at Harvard his freshman year – it would seem he’d certainly stay there.

Reply to  crooked donald
3 years ago

True if big

Old Bay
Reply to  crooked donald
3 years ago

He isn’t on Harvard’s 17-18 roster

Old Bay
Reply to  Old Bay
3 years ago

Then again no sophomores or freshman are on the roster at the moment

Metro Boomin
Reply to  Old Bay
3 years ago

Farris is not transferring to Cal. Please stop

Reply to  Metro Boomin
3 years ago

I like your username

Reply to  crooked donald
3 years ago

Our sources at Cal say that this is false. So if it’s happening, there’s quite a coverup going on.

crooked donald
Reply to  Braden Keith
3 years ago

Cal is crafty that way.

Reply to  crooked donald
3 years ago

There hasn’t been a Farris sighting at Cal, and he is not a registered student currently. Likely a riff on the Chuck Katis transfer a couple of years ago. Given the posters handle, I am guessing Fake News.

Reply to  h2olover
3 years ago

Dean trained with texas for a bit this summer, if anything he’s transferring to the 40 acres…

Reply to  h2olover
3 years ago

Even if the Farris rumor is true, why would he want to transfer from Ivy League Harvard to Cal? Same reason Matt Josa transferred. As well as Trenton Julian, whose parents are both USC all Americans and whose dad Jeff is a USC assistant. Cal has a major academic reputation AND they have Dave Durden who has a “rock star” reputation for developing and recruiting talent. There’s a major draw for a athlete being on a national championship team and swimming for a coach like Durden. I think Cal with Durden is well positioned to overtake Texas once Reese at Texas finally retires

crooked donald
Reply to  crooked donald
3 years ago

My God. It was a joke. I figured as long as we’re hyping Cal, we might as well give them the most hyped guy from last season.

Reply to  crooked donald
3 years ago

I think its fairly obvious this was a joke. I found it funny

Reply to  crooked donald
3 years ago

yeah i just assumed it was a dean farris joke too, lol. This is like when Chrissy Teigan jokingly tweeted about “buying a team” and news outlets wrote stories about what football or baseball teams she might buy.

3 years ago

I don’t think Sean Grieshop would be ranked #2 (or even top 10) if the rankings came out now. He hasn’t been nearly as good since his coach left. Hopefully, Yuri can turn that around. Obviously the kid is talented

Tea rex
Reply to  Korn
3 years ago

Brandon Almeida has slightly better best times in the same events.

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 …

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