Ranking the Classes: Men’s #1 – #4

And now, it’s time for the top four teams in our 2012-2013 NCAA Men’s recruiting class rankings.

This ended up being a much tougher decision for #1 than we anticipated. USC’s class is full of stars, all stars, and nothing but stars as far as we can tell, but Texas has plenty of big names as well, and awesome depth to boot. But the number of National Record holders in the USC class, we just couldn’t ignore.

1. USC Trojans 4th at NCAA’s
Top Names: Michael Domagala, Steven Stumph, Reed Malone, Dylan Carter (semester), Santo Condorelli, David Morgan, Yakov Toumarkin (international)

If John Wooden was the Wizard of Westwood, then call Dave Salo the sorcerer of SoCal. Nobody can quite figure out how he managed to pull in such a huge class under the restrictive scholarship budgets of Men’s Division I swimming, though now we know that Vlad Morozov turning pro probably freed up a great deal of money.

As good as some of the classes below were, this one for USC was a no-brainer for #1. Domagala goes 44.2 in the 100 free, 1:35.4 in the 200 free, 47.5 in the 100 fly, and 1:47.5 in the 200 IM. USC returns 3 out of 4 legs of a very good 800 free relay from last year, 3rd-place at NCAA’s, but Domagala could immediately compete for that 4th spot and make this relay even better.

They’ve also added Steven Stumph, the winner one of the greatest high school races in history that saw three under the National High School mark in the 100 breaststroke. He goes 53.3 and 1:55.8 in the 100 and 200 breaststrokes, which already put him right on the verge of NCAA scoring. Plus, he goes 1:46.7 in his 200 IM and 47.8 in his 100 fly.

Reed Malone can do a lot of very good things, but is another 1:35 200 freestyler, plus a 44.6 100 freestyler, a 4:17 500 freestyler, and a 47.5/1:45.55 butterflier. All of those guys are within a second of scoring at NCAA’s before even setting foot in their first class at USC.

Then there’s Santo Condorelli from the National High School Record setting Bolles relays. in Jacksonville. It will take more-than-one to immediately replace Vlad Morozov’s value, but this team has more-than-one to do it, beginning with Condorelli’s 19.8 and 43.4 in the 50 and 100 yard freestyles, plus a 47.2 in the 100 fly. David Morgan is a 20.4 and a 44.5 in the 50 and 100 frees, plus a 55.6 in the 100 yard breaststroke.

And if all of that isn’t enough, at the semester they’ll add Dylan Carter from the Davie Nadadores in South Florida, who goes 19.9/43.8/1:35.2 in the 50, 100 and 200 yard freestyles, plus 47.2 in the 100 back (he’s the best backstroker in the class outside of Murphy and Conger), and all of this with him being still very green to yards swimming. He’ll be one of the youngest swimmers in the class, and could give USC’s sprint backstroking the stability it’s been needing for a few years (though Luca Spinazzola ended with a great swim at NCAA’s last year).

Also filling out that backstroke group is Israeli Olympian and European Championship medalist Yakov Toumarkin, who didn’t get accepted in time for the 2012-2013 season, as had hoped, but is 54.1 and 1:57.3 in the 100 and 200 backstrokes in long course. Those convert to immediate-scoring times at NCAA’s in yards.

Doing some math real quick, those guys alone, without accounting for relay starts and freshman year improvements, could put together a 3:11 medley relay, and a 6:22 800 free relay. That 800 relay would’ve been in the top 10 at NCAA’s last year. And there’s a lot of different combinations that could get them there.

If there’s one mark on the class, is that it’s pretty small: there’s not a ton of the guys who will fill out the roster to help win dual meets. When the Trojans spend the next few years in the top 6 at NCAA’s, though, they might not be too worried about that.

2. Texas Longhorns (5th at NCAA’s)
Top names: Jack Conger, Clark Smith, William Glass, Matt Ellis (transfer), Will Licon
Rest of the class: Chris Scheaffer, Cory Loria, Hayden Henry, Alec Willrodt, Andrew Skowronek, Patrick Dunne, Austin Vacek

Jack Conger is a star. Between him and Cal commit Ryan Murphy, the two will be battling for backstroke NCAA titles as freshmen (and might not get a lot of competition from returning swimmers in the 200). Conger can swim anything, really, but for sure he can be a star of an NCAA-worthy medley relay, and make huge improvements in any relay he swims, but he’s also the fastest high school swimmer ever in the 500 free, so he’ll go wherever he needs to be. Clark Smith has been a good recruit since signed, but by almost breaking a National High School Record of his own late in the season, he joins the really elite, top handful of swimmers. He’s 46.5, Conger is 46.1, and William Glass is 47.5 in the 100 yard fly. Scheaffer at 48.2 ranks only 4th in Texas’ part of the class among butterfliers, which is a very stunning perspective.

The class also has a pair of very high-potential freestylers that must have Eddie Reese licking his chops – those are a specialty of his. Cory Loria from Dallas was only a 1:49 in the 200 free when he was 16, and now he graduates high school as a 1:38. The other is Alec Willrodt from Stratford High School in Houston; he’s the Texas 4A State Champion in the 50 free in 20.7, and also was a 45.8 for runnerup in the 100 free. That as a high-school swimmer out of a Stratford program that year-after-year proves that high school only programs can still get things done. (By the way, Willrodt is 6’6).

The creme-de-la-creme is Matt Ellis among transfers. He comes from Georgia who was the #1 sprint recruit out of the class of 2012. Texas really needs a new name for their free relays, and between him and Conger consider those relays ‘rebuilt’. Texas addressed their biggest need at breaststroke by bringing in Will Licon, a local kid, who is 54.6 and 1:56.0 in the 100 and 200 yard breaststrokes. With Imri Ganiel, the Israeli who sat last year out, expected to finally get his crack at the NCAA, the Longhorns will be much better at breaststroke (though, still not the deepest program in the country there).

3. Cal (2nd at NCAA’s)
Top Names: Ryan Murphy, Sven Campbell, Long Gutierrez, Janardan Burns
Rest of the Class: Jonathan Fiepke, Dillon Williams, Harrison Thai, Hunter Cobleigh, Henry Chung (JuCo transfer)

Ryan Murphy, who we ranked as the #2 recruit in this class, shoots the Golden Bears way up the rankings. Though Tom Shields is one of these nearly-irreplaceable guys, even as a freshman Murphy might nearly replace him. He’ll be at a bare-minimum top three in both backstrokes, and probably has at least another top 5 finish in him (though his ceiling is way higher than that). He’s a 19.5 in the 50 free, a 42.9 in the 100 free, a 1:35 in the 200 free, a 45.3 in the 100 back, a 1:38.1 in the 200 back, a 47.4 in the 100 fly, and a 1:44.4 in the 200 IM. All of those times put him in-or-near the elite ranks of college swimming regardless of age: a rarity on the men’s side of the pool for incoming freshmen.

Sven Campbell is a very good complimentary piece to Murphy; he comes from the same high school program as Stumph and is both a very good sprinter (20.2/44.2) and backstroker (47.6/1:43.8). If the Murphy kid doesn’t work out, Cal certainly has a backup as a medley relay leadoff.

Gutierrez is another sprint guy with very similar freestyle times to Campbell (20.6/44.5/1:37.6). He adds a 48.1 butterfly to that list, but the freestyle events will probably be his focus.

Fiepke doesn’t have the same name recognition, but still brings in a 20.4 and 44.7 in the sprints, as does local signee Dillon Williams from Crow Canyon (20.8/46.0).

Harrison Thai is a 1:47 IM’er, and Hunter Colbeigh will begin the next wave of Cal breaststrokers with 55.2 and 1:59. Those last few pieces were just enough to bump Cal ahead of Auburn and into the top 4.

Burns is a distance swimmer, which is still pretty new territory for this Cal program. The San Francisco area should provide plenty of opportunities for him to train in open water, however.

We’re still waiting to see if Tyler Messerschmidt comes back, which wouldn’t technically be a recruit, but would be every bit as big.

4. Auburn (8th at NCAA’s)
Top Names: Kyle Darmody, Michael Duderstadt, Joe Patching (international), Alex Press (international),
Rest of the Class: William Anderson, Forrest Davis, Taylor Copeland, Alex Goerzen, Alan Rabstejnek

Darmody could be a special recruit. Coming out of David Marsh’s swim program he’s got that Marsh/Bottom passion for the sport, and just keeps getting better-and-better. He goes 19.8, 43.8, and 1;36.8 in the 50, 100, and 200 yard freestyles, 47.6 in the 100 back, 48.8 in the 100 fly, and can comfortably go longer in many of those races, but probably doesn’t need to. He is going to be a star after working with the Auburn sprint group for four years.

Duderstadt offers some on the sprint freestyles (20.6 and 45.2), but even more on the sprint breaststrokes (54.5 and 1:57.9). After Auburn’s top two breaststrokers from last year graduated, the fight will be down to him and senior Peter Haas for the Tigers’ number-one spot, with Duderstadt having the inside track if he can adapt well in his first year in college.

Completing a well-rounded top three in the class is Joe Patching from the UK, who is one of his country’s bright junior swimmers. He comes in with long course bests of 55.2 in the 100 back, 1:59.4 in the 200 back, and 1:52.1 in the 200 free. This is another spot where Auburn graduated by far the best in their group (Kyle Owens). James Disney-May is the Tigers’ best returning backstroker, and he’s not a backstroker. Patching and sophomore Jacob Siar (who’s more of a 200 swimmer) will now lead this backstroke group into a new ear.

The 6’4″ Press is a 22.7 long course 50 freestyler comes from Australia, and has the physical tools to be very good. William Anderson was the top in-state recruit this year, and as the quality of homegrown swimmers continues to increase, grabbing the top ones and keeping them home (over Alabama, who now has a big-name coach of their own) becomes increasingly important. He goes 49.8 in the 100 fly and 49.0 in the 100 back.

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Jonny Newsom
7 years ago

The Cal recruit Burns is spoken of in the Auburn commentary. Perhaps this mistake is why Cal isn’t ranked #1? Otherwise, I’m at a loss for words.

Reply to  Jonny Newsom
7 years ago

Cal is my favorite team, but they are nowhere close to number one. In fact I’d put Stanford in there for second, Cal 4th, Arizona or Tennessee 5th.

Reply to  Reid
7 years ago

Stanford third sorry.

Reply to  Reid
7 years ago

It could be possibly that CAL is ranked so high because Murphy could win 1-2 events at NCAAs his Freshman year, plus be a major contributor on all 4 relays. Conger could do that as well for Texas.

If you’re talking who’s class will score the most points at NCAAs, Murphy alone could put CAL at #3. Maybe that’s why CAL was ranked so high.

7 years ago

I agree with the top 3 classes, but I don’t think the Auburn class at #4 is as strong as the Stanford, Tennessee, and Arizona classes listed at 5, 6, and 7 respectively. Again the PAC 12 “big four” teams get richer and richer! Where’s Michigan on the list again?

All the top teams have the advantage that many of their recruits are willing to accept much less scholarship money than other less powerful or established programs. If the NCAA changed the swimming system to a headcount basis, instead of equivalent allocated, like football or basketball, then that would likely mix things up and eventually lead to more parity. In the meantime, PAC 12 ALL THE WAY BABY!!

Reply to  PAC12BACKER
7 years ago

How has Michigan not even made the top 12? They are getting Chen and Mangan. Two 1:45 200 back strokers. Chen who also goes 47 in the 100. Tafuto, Eaton, and Ballestas who all go 20 low in the 50. Cameron Stitt who goes 4:24 in the 5 free. The list goes on….

Reply to  B10
7 years ago

Not to mention they also got Ralf T. from Estonia. He goes a 51.97 SC METERS in the 100 Backstroke, 22.08 SCM 50 Free!!!

Reply to  M_Fan
7 years ago

That’s not very impressive…

Reply to  Klorn8d
7 years ago

If you don’t find a 51.97 SCM Backstroke not very impressive, then I don’t know what to tell you. Only Conger and Murphy would probably be able to do that time but that’s it. That time ranks you top 20 in the world…

Reply to  Klorn8d
7 years ago

Oh I saw the 50 free and assumed it was 100 free which I am pretty familiar with because in my summer league we do 100 scm free. Should have known based on the 50 free time

7 years ago

Where is the University of Alabama’s team ranked? I was hoping top 10. They signed the most talented team since Coach Don Gambril’s teams in the 1980s. The Tide is rising.

Reply to  Rick Allred
7 years ago

The only way the tide is rising is through foreign recruiting. That’s the only way they could trick someone into wanting to swim for Pursley. The only top swimmers are foreign. The only good thing would be to dump pursely

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Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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