The first round of college recruit signings is done, and though many of the top teams on the men’s side got off to a slow start, they’ve finished in a big way. There’s still a lot of great swimmers left to sign, especially internationally, so these rankings will likely shift and change once signings open up again in April.
There are some big teams missing from this list – namely Texas, Auburn, and Florida. Each has one-or-two big landings (John Murray, Alex Hancock, and Arthur Frayler, respectively) but none have earned the kind of depth it takes to crack a top-10 class. Auburn, for one, doesn’t need much, as that is a very young program this year that only graduates 3.
Georgia earned top spots, but they have to be (right?) about done with the class now. Cal and USC have had great luck with international recruiting in the past, so don’t be totally caught off-guard if either program reels-in Georgia in the spring.
Let’s recap the recruiting season so far. With so many kids signing so fast-and-furiously, it’s good to take a step back and look at what exactly each group has lined up.
Classes, as publicized, listed below. Any signings we’ve missed? Leave them in the comments.
This is the sort of breakout class that the Georgia men have been waiting for to possibly pull even with their women. They’ve gotten some good pieces to rebuild relays most importantly, with Koski and Ellis. The challenge at Georgia has been taking very good high school sprinters and turning them into elite college sprinters. Yildirimer, the Turkish foreign exchange student, committed yesterday to put the cherry on top of this class. The comparison now becomes this class versus (on paper) history. I think I might still give the edge to either of last year’s top classes, Stanford or Cal, on the basis of the level versatility that they brought in, but Georgia is not far behind that.
Sprinters were the name of the game for Cal in this recruiting class. They badly needed to continue replenishing a depleted sprint group, and Pebley, Haney, and especially Dillinger will accomplish that in a hurry. Pebley is also good enough to make an immediate backstroke impact and will help take pressure off of Tom Shields to be the program’s best butterflier, backstroker, and freestyler all at the same time. Add in the transfer Cox, a butterflier or backstroker who will immediately score, and all of a sudden the Bears have lots of options.
TR – Tony Cox (Auburn)
After last year’s class, Stanford likely didn’t have much in the way of direct scholarships to work with. They also didn’t have any big holes to fill, so this class was all about building relays and just sort of cherry-picking the best available, regardless of specialty. Given that context, Stanford did a ton with a small class, including adding two more (Gray Umbach and Tom Kremer) to their ridiculous IM group, finding Chad la Tourette’s replacement in NCAA-ready Daniel Thomson, and an elite sprinter in Sean Duggan. It’s becoming harder-and-harder to pick against this team for the 2014 NCAA Championship if they develop the right leadership.
This USC class is being underrated big time. Maclin Davis is a phenomenal sprint butterflier, but doesn’t rank high because of limited versatility. His addition, along with Eisenberger, will mean that the Trojans will no longer have to force their best freestylers into awkward legs on medley relays. The transfers are huge too – Redondo and Hodgson never reached their full potential at their previous stops, but could make an impact for the Trojans. USC will make another big surge forward next season, just like we saw in 2011-2012.
TR – Dakota Hodgson (Auburn)
TR – Brock Redondo (Army)
Harvard lit up the recruiting scene this year. They are a good class and they are a huge class. You always have to account for a bit of attrition in the Ivy’s (nobody blames these kids for using their swimming to get into a great school, even if their heart is no longer in the sport). Leo Lim is a fantastic butterflier and will be a great relay piece.
Wisconsin coach Whitney Hite has made an enormous recruiting impact on the men’s side, where the biggest need was, in his first year at the helm. He’s made a huge splash in-state specifically by signing 5 in-state swimmers already, including 4 out of the top 5. This is a huge step, as historically Wisconsin has been raided by teams from nearby states like Indiana and Minnesota.
Virginia is hitting right back at North Carolina, who also has a very good class. This is a very top-heavy class, but Virginia still has many, many relay spots to fill in. Another freestyler who could eat up 4 spots by the time he’s a sophomore would be enormous for the program.
#8 North Carolina
With mega-rivals Virginia in a down-cycle, the Tar Heels saw an opportunity to snatch away dominance in the ACC, and they went all-out in this class. It’s a prototypical rebuilding class – a whole lot of depth to give the team balance moving forward, and the hopes that two-or-three will develop into stars. Next year, the focus will be on getting a big-name relay stud of some sort.
Kelly Moodie might be the best recruit that you’ve never heard of. Hailing from Tokyo’s St. Mary’s International School, he would be one of the best freestylers in the country, if he lived in the country. His middle-distance freestyles are dominant, and he can sprint as well. Still, this class still has a long way to go before it’s complete based on the sheer number of graduations from the Wildcats. They’ve historically done well with international swimmers (though there’s only 1 currently on the roster), so don’t count on them being done yet.
TR – Eric Solis (Florida)
The Wolverines only have one real piece to replace off of this year’s team, which is Dan Madwed and his butterflying, and they did exactly that with the South African Bosch. Everything else is just icing for them in the short term. Next year’s class will have to begin prepping for the departure of their monster 2010 class, as that group’s graduation is going to leave the Wolverines very short-handed.
These are teams who signed classes that could be a sign of big momentum forward. They weren’t enough to crak the top 10, but they signed a group (not just 1-or-2) that could push the program into the next tier.
Penn State grabbed Shane Ryan, an in-state kid who was basically David Nolan’s understudy last year. This year, he should be the top dog in Pennsylvania swimming and will grab plenty of headlines.
North Carolina State
The Wolfpack have brought in a great class, beginning with two great sprinters in the Lithuanian Bilis and McCurdy. McCurdy and Wojciechowski are both also elite butterfliers. This class alone probably puts together relays that would be competitive will those made by the entire NC State team in 2011.