Ranking the 2019 Men’s NCAA Recruiting Classes: #5-8

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We’re continuing our rankings of the top recruiting classes in the men’s NCAA – these swimmers will be starting their freshman seasons in the next month.

Here are a few important notes on our rankings:

  • The ranking numbers listed for individual recruits are from our Class of 2019 Re-Rank, which was done this past spring. Certainly some of those ranks would change after this summer’s season.
  • 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 are lots of big ones.
  • For the full list of the 1200+ committed athletes, click here. A big thank-you to SwimSwam’s own Anne Lepesant for compiling that index – without it, rankings like these would be far less comprehensive.

Here are the classes ranked 8th through 5th:

#8: USC Trojans

Top-tier additions: #19 Max Saunders (CA – free), Santi Corredor (Florida transfer -IM/free), Truls Wigdel (Norway – free), Jack Kirby (Barbados/TN – back/free)
The rest: 
David Mertz (CA – distance), Dominic Margarino (CA – distance), Ivan Puskovitch (PA – distance), Jan Collazo (FL – sprint free), Paul Retterer (NJ – back), Ryan Peterson (CO – sprint free), Trent Martinez (OR – free)

The Trojans went all-in on freestyle with their top recruits, and if that group can mesh with last year’s blue chipper Alexei Sancov (who was a little disappointing as a freshman), the USC relays could reload in a hurry.

In-state prospect Max Saunders (20.3/43.5/1:35.0) is a great get and a very fast riser in the 200 in particular. He should have enormous relay value. The 4×200 relay could get a massive boost between Saunders and Norway’s Truls Wigdelwho projects to be a 200 free monster. Wigdel is 1:48.8 in long course meters and comes down to 50.9 in the 100-meter free. He could be a 1:34/44-type, based on some rough conversions to short course yards. Pair those two with Sancov (1:32 out of high school) and you’ve got the core of a young, talented 800 free relay.

Colombian national Santi Corredor is part of a mass exodus out of the University of Florida, and he shows up at USC with two years of eligibility remaining. He was a 3:44.5 400 IMer for the Gators, and projects as an NCAA invitee with just a marginal improvement there. He’s also 4:18 in the 500 free and 1:45 in the 200 backstroke.

One more semi-international is Jack Kirbya Barbados record-holder who has been based out of Tennessee in the United States. Kirby has plenty of short course yards experience (47.8/1:45.3 backstrokes, 20.8/44.4 freestyles) and might step in as the go-to backstroker on medley relays now that Patrick Mulcare is graduated.

The rest of the class is still very freestyle-centric. David Mertz, Dominic Margarino and Ivan Puskovitch are all pretty good distance prospects, though developmental. Jan Collazo and Ryan Peterson are solid three-distance sprint freestylers in the relay distances.

Fast riser to watch: Saunders, who cut from 1:40 to 1:35.0 in his 200 free as a high school senior.

#7: Arizona State Sun Devils

Top-tier additions: #5 Jack Dolan (MO – free/fly/back), Julian Hill (FL – free), Scott Lyons (NC – breast), Alex Colson (MD – fly/IM)
The rest: 
Andrew Gray (MN – free/fly), Bobby Pearce (TX – back), Noah Scheuerman (MO – fly/IM)

#5 Jack Dolan is really a next-level prospect, and has a lot to do with this class’s rank. He’s got near NCAA invite times in the 200 free (1:34.78) and 50 free (19.62), with a solid 100 (43.56) in the middle. That’s not even mentioning a 46.8 butterfly or 47.0/1:42.9 backstroke speed. Arizona State tends to love these tough 200 guys (1:34 Cody Bybee in last year’s class, 1:34.5 Grant House the year before that, now-transferred Cameron Craig the year prior), and Dolan can probably be expected to key in on the 200 free and maybe branch out to the backstrokes or 100 fly/free from there.

Julian Hill out of Florida adds another good 200 free (1:35.1) along with solid 100/500 support (44.5/4:18.8), and he fits the ASU mold well in that mid-distance range. The other really good pickup is Alex Colsonwho has had massive improvements down to 47.3/1:45.4 in the butterflys.

Scott Lyons is a good breaststroke pickup (54.8/2:00.6), and Andrew Gray is solid 200 free depth (1:37.6) in a program that’s done very well with 200-guys. This class might have contended for top-5 status had it included Jarod Arroyo. The Puerto Rican national had verbally committed to this class, but will defer his enrollment until after the 2020 Olympics. Arroyo was a 3:49 IMer who is probably better (4:18) in long course meters.

Fast riser to watch: Colson was 1:46.7/49 in the butterfly races a year ago. Now, he’s 1:45.4/47.3, and looks like much more of a relay weapon with that speed improvement. He’s also taken about a second off of both his 50 and 100 frees and about two off his 200 free, though all of those still need improvements to make NCAA contributions.

#6: Indiana Hoosiers

Top-tier additions: #1 Brendan Burns (PA – back/fly/free), Harry Flanders (CA – fly), Jake Marcum (TN – back), Kai Bathurst (CA – free), Will Gallant (CT – distance)
The rest: 
Jacob Destrampe (IN – free), Max Scott (OH – sprint free)

The Hoosiers pull in top-ranked recruit Brendan Burnswho is a true do-everything star. 46-low in both the 100 back and 100 fly, Burns is a godsend for a team that has ruled medley relays lately, but graduated some key legs after last season. Burns can probably take over the fly legs of the medleys, and should also be an 800 free relay factor as a 1:34.1 out of high school.

Indiana has also generally had success in the IMs, and Burns could be a prime candidate there. He’s 1:44.8 out of high school, and could have one of the best front halves in all of college swimming. The Hoosiers lost a lot of key components from last year, but Burns should be a plug-and-play contributor as a freshman, which is rare on the men’s side.

Fly and back are the themes of this class. Harry Flanders (47.4/1:46.7) is a good flyer and also a pretty solid IMer. Jake Marcum (1:42.8/48.2) is a very good backstroker, though he’s much more pigeonholed to the 200 at this point. That freshman trio will give IU a lot of stroke options, and could make up the core of the medley relays down the road.

Speaking of relays, Jacob Destrampe (20.4/44.2/1:37.1) is relay depth in waiting, along with Max Scott (20.4/45.6), though Scott is much more of a drop-dead sprinter variety for now. At the other end of the spectrum is Kai Bathursta California prospect who goes 1:36.0 in the 200 free and maybe projects best in the 100/200/500 range.

Will Gallant (15:16 in the mile) adds a distance component to a pretty well-rounded class, though it’s a little surprising to see IU not rolling the dice on a breaststroker, considering the rousing success they’ve had in that stroke recently.

Fast riser to watch: Marcum is a very exciting backstroke prospect. He was 1:46.0 in the 200 back as a junior, and dropped 3.2 seconds over his senior year. Add in a 1.5-second drop in the 100 and his future looks pretty bright, especially if he can develop a good third event.

#5: Georgia Bulldogs

Top-tier additions: #18 Dillon Downing (GA – sprint free), HM Zach Hils (KY – IM/back), Ian Grum (GA – distance/back), Harry Homans (RI – fly/back), Thomas Strother (KY – breast)
The rest: 
Charlie Logan (GA – free/back), Riley Scruggs (GA – sprint free/breast)

Coach Jack Bauerle‘s pickup of Dillon Downing is especially significant for two reasons: first, he’s arguably the top in-state prospect, and second, he fills an absolutely dire UGA need for a star sprinter.

The Bulldogs have been hurting for a true sprinter for years. While their IMers and stroke specialists have been outstanding, their thin sprint group has consistently kept the relays from accessing the NCAA’s biggest point stockpile. One swimmer can’t fix that all by himself, but Downing is about the best start the Bulldogs could get. 19.68 and 43.63 out of high school, Downing is one of the best two or three pure sprinters in the nation for his class. And he’s shown remarkable improvements, especially to his endurance: Downing went from 1:53 to 1:38 in the 200 free over his senior year, and 45.8 to 43.6 in the 100.

That’s a massive get for Georgia, which also has one of the better backstrokers in the nation in rising senior Javier Acevedo (though he’s redshirting this season) and one of the best butterflyers in rising junior Camden Murphy (not to mention a blue-chip flyer by the name of Urlando coming in next year). Watch out for these relays, the medleys in particular, to rise big-time, though maybe not until next season.

The rest of the class is more classic Georgia. Kentucky’s Zach Hils is a great fit for Georgia’s IM factory, a 1:46.0 IMer out of high school with 47.6 back speed and a 1:44 in the 200 back. His 200 free (1:36.1) might make him a relay threat there, too. Ian Grum is another in-state prospect, a 15:09 miler, 3:49 IMer and 1:42 200 backstroker who should be an ideal fit in Athens. He’s also a great long course swimmer, and Georgia has been very good at coaching those types of athletes.

Riley Scruggs (20.4 free) and Charlie Logan (1:39 free) are two more developmental prospects whom Georgia kept in-state. Rhode Island’s Harry Homans (47.6/1:45.9 fly) should bolster what’s becoming an outstanding butterfly group. With top breaststroker James Guest graduating, Thomas Strother (54.7/2:01.9) is a timely pickup.

Fast riser to watch: Downing, whose progression we mentioned above. What went unsaid there, though, was his 0.6 second drop in the 50 free. Per USA Swimming’s database, it appears Downing took an extended break from swimming between 2013 and 2016, and has just now started to find his footing (and his endurance) in the sport. He has a chance to one of the most impactful swimmers in the NCAA based off his events and improvement curve.

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Greg

Predicting 1-4:
4. Cal
3. NC State
2. Virginia
1. Texas

I could see 2 and 3 switching spots.

Bruh

I still feel like Cals class was a lot more underwhelming than usual

Reid

Lot of solid swimmers but no one big star. We’re used to them getting a Whitley, Murphy, Seliskar, Hoffer, etc. That said they are bringing in Hugo Gonzalez who should contend for IM titles if he can get back to his 2018 form.

I think that’s a fair observation. It is a super deep class, though. Last year’s class was really ‘thin’ after Whitley, and this year’s clap is really deep with top-tier talent, so it’s probably exactly what they needed to make sure that their seat in the top 2 of the national standings stays put for a while. In men’s swimming & diving, afterall, to win national titles you need 14+ guys scoring at NCAAs every year these days it feels like.

Reid

Oh absolutely, I expect this class will end up being much more valuable than last years, which is pretty much just Whitley and then maybe Jhong if he switches to distance free or something. The one major concern is a lack of true sprinters. The way things are looking now Hoffer and Biondi will be their only two 50 guys in two years.

JP input is too short

How did I forget about Hugo?

mike_in_dallas

It’s Texas – take it to the bank.
Their recruits will deliver as freshmen. . .
End of transmission.

JP input is too short

Those all had good classes, but I have a hard time leaving Northwestern completely off this list…

Federico Burdisso – LCM 22.7/49.9/1:48 free, 23.9/51.7/1:54 fly
Kevin Houseman – 24.9/53.0/1:57 breast
Ben Miller – 48.3/1:44 fly, 3:53 IM
Ben Forbes – 20.9/44.9/1:36/4:25 free
Ryan King – 4:26/15:22 free
Sam Dailley – LCM 51.3 free, 54.5/2:02 fly
Aleksa Bobar – LCM 50.0/1:50 free
Ethan Churilla – 20.3/44.8 free

Maybe that’s not top 4, but it’s better than a lot of these classes, especially with Burdisso on there.

Superfan

No worries, just like football preseason polls, they are pretty useless! Only thing that counts is the big dance!

Benedict Arnold Schwarzenegger

The greatest irony is when a comment that took no research and adds absolutely zero relevant information deigns to call an informational story like this “useless.”

samulih

they are all subjective without some mathematical basis, first you have to rank swimmers with some ranking and after that another ranking based on that ranking, too many variables to say anything

Charge

Lot of development happens between now and March.

'riting'n'reading

Don’t forget Marcus Mok and Burdisso’s twin brother, too. Something fun’s building in Evanston!

Benedict Arnold Schwarzenegger

I mean… Mok is like 1:04 in breaststroke. And the other Burdisso is 56 in fly. That’s nowhere near top of the class. We don’t just get to drop names and act like that would have any impact on their ranking

Reid

Wow that is 100% an oversight. I knew they were getting some good swimmers but seeing it laid out like that it deserves a top 12 ranking for Burdisso and Houseman alone.

JP input is too short

They got a lot of flyers… in most other classes, you’d take a 54.5/2:02 LCM fly as your top fly recruit, but Dailley is probably their third best in that stroke behind Burdisso and Miller.

Now the coaching staff has to show that they can progress these kids.

Bruh

100% agree

Nonrevhoofan

It doesn’t matter what order: DeSorbo’s Cavaliers in the same batch as #1 Texas, #2 Cal and #4 NC State is a major feather in his cap – and an indication of the ascendancy of the Program.

Matt

1. NC State
2. UVA
3. TX
4. CAL

John

I agree but NC state should be 2 and UVA should be 3

Matt

TX and NC State swap spots.

Swimnerd

Downing over Grum or Bell as the “top state recruit”? Really?

Cmon swimswam

Superfan

I thought Acevedo was redshirting this year. So no sprint back or sprint breast so not sure of their medleys this year!

JP input is too short

I feel like Georgia is going to be even more underwhelming this year… only so many points you can score out of 500/1650/400 IM…

Superfan

They were 18th last year, so probably similar?!

JP input is too short

Doubt it, with Acevedo on redshirt. Where do they score?

Higgins 500/1650
Reed 1650
Murphy 100/200 fly
Forde 400 IM
Abruzzo maybe 400 IM maybe 500?
Grum 200 back

Maybe sneak into the 400 MR with Hils/Dalmolin/Murphy/Downing?

John

Agreed that 18th may be unattainable, but you have to expect Abruzzo to have a better NCAA season this year after his PanAms performances

JP input is too short

You’d think. I was expecting him to have a better freshman year than he did. Kid’s good at a ton of different things, he just has to find his niche. Maybe he’d be better off aiming toward the 200 back or fly instead of the mile?

Superfan

Agree, he hit his high school times in Peru.

Test

There were a few years where they got top 10 off of basically those events + 2 fly.

Superfan

Those guys were pretty versatile and could fake some decent relays!

RTR

The state of Georgia’s top recruit might be a toss up between Downing and Bell. Both had tremendous time drops this past year, and will likely both have some amazing freshman swims at SECs and NCAAs. It will be fun to watch them race in the Bama v Georgia meet on October 4, possibly in the same event, maybe in the 50 free and in relays.

collegeswimmer

Both Grum and Downing had great summers. Grum 1:58 and 55 in backstrokes, Downing 22.7 and 50.1 in free. Not to mention a 1:58 and 53 for Homans in the fly. UGA won’t be the best this year but definitely be rebuilding for the class coming in next year.

Daniel Jablonski

There’s no way Georgia’s class is better than Indiana’s.

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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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