Ranking the Classes (M): #11-25



Ranking the Classes (M): #11-25

Georgia

#11 Georgia - Georgia’s men’s class shares two traits with classes we’ve come to expect from the Bulldogs’ women’s classes – they’re very good and they’re home grown. Four of the six signees come from in state including four of the state’s six best recruits.

Will Freeman and Doug Reynolds lead the in-state signees. Freeman broke the national private school record in the 500 free and Reynolds is one of the six best flyers coming in. Virginian Jameson Hill, teammates with Freeman on the National Junior Team, is one of the ten best in the 200 freestyle.

Defending that home turf is especially important because a) this year’s graduating class was especially strong and b) the state’s generous HOPE Scholarship program saves the Bulldogs scholarship dollars for later use. That second part helps Georgia set up for a big recruiting run in 2011 when they’ll have to replace the likes of Bill Cregar and Mark Dylla. Recruiting Class


Georgia

#12 Texas -When a team signs the likes of Matt Belecanech, Woody Joye and Charlie Moore it would ordinarily be cause for celebration. When the team in question is the University of Texas it’s the norm. When that same Texas team is graduating Peter Jameson, Hill Taylor, and Olympic teammates Ricky Berens and David Walters, well, you don’t worry because Eddie Reese and Chris Kubik have been doing this long enough to know what they’re doing.

Belecanech is one of four recruits to earn a perfect 1.0 score in our book. That means he ranks in the top 1% of prep recruits in at least five different events. He and fellow signee Woody Joye (Alabama) have the second and third fastest times in the 200 free making us think UT will be just fine sans Walters and Berens. Charlie Moore and Bobby Button and transfer Michael McBroom will try to keep the NCAA trophy in their home state but they’ll have their hands full in an increasingly-competitive environment. Recruiting Class


Texas A&M

#13 Texas A&M - Jay Holmes and Associate Head Coach Doug Boyd efforts have culminated in a resurgence of A&M swimming.  This year they landed a couple of big Swedes in Henrik Lindau and Simon Frank. They also landed up-and-comer Kyle Troskot. He’s the latest in an ever-growing list of Canadians, following the likes of Riley Janes, Matt Rose, Eric Sehn, not to mention five current Aggies on the women’s roster.

Donnie Walker is the only in-state signee but Aggie loyalties run deep across the state and the graduating class of 2011 is even better than 2010. For a quarter-century Mel Nash quietly built A&M into one of the nation’s most-competitive, yet most-overlooked programs and when AD Bill Byrne (with blood on his hands from two previous swim programs) took control, many worried about Aggies’ future.  Judging from this class and what Jay and Doug have done with the past few (admittedly weaker) ones, that future's very bright.  Recruiting Class


Florida

#14 Florida - Florida’s class is lean and mean. More importantly, it’s a seemingly good fit for a team that Gregg Troy calls a “talented group of over-achievers.”

Connor Signorin is one of such guy. His coach Greg Wriede explains that "Connor's work ethic fits in very well with the Florida program,” and he similarly feels Florida’s ability to “handle multiple event athletes and teach them to excel at the highest levels of the sport” fit Signorin as well.

Eric Solis also qualifies. "I knew I didn't have the talent early on and I would just have to get through being a workhorse," he told the Grand Rapids Press. The fact is he is talented and he’s going to be a key piece to this small class along with the final member of the class, Stephen Lichtner rounds out the class and is perhaps the rawest talent. If that talent spills over into competitiveness – and considering his family history we expect it will – he’s bound to make this a great class for UF. Recruiting Class


SMU

#15 Southern Methodist - SMU is a case in point of how maddening the NCAA qualifying process can be. As one of sixteen teams to have every relay ranked in the top twenty, the Ponies can claim to be a legit top-twenty program. Unfortunately, each of those relays just off an invitation leaving the Ponies with just one swimming qualifier and a 35th place finish.

Head coach Eddie Sinnott thinks his class are “all on the up-swing of their swimming careers” and will, if they improve, “be a force to be reckoned with.” Sinnott’s track record shows that this isn’t a matter of “if”, but rather when. A closer look reveals that they’re not all up-and-comers, meaning the answer to when is now.

Nicolai Graae and Giedrius Andriunaitis stand above the rest of this group if only because they’re 6’8” and 6’6” respectively. Those two, along with Matt Roney will help SMU’s free relays jockey for position in the NCAA qualifying game. They’ll need to find a replacement for breaststroker Tom Cole, but Roney can fly and with Braeden Newton on back the Mustang Medleys should be in the mix as well. Recruiting Class

#1 Michigan
#2 Auburn
#3 USC
#4 Stanford
#5 Virginia
#6 Arizona
#7 Tennessee
#8 UNC
#9 California
#10 Purdue
#11 Georgia
#12 Texas
#13 Tex A&M
#14 Florida
#15 SMU
#16 Ohio State
#17 Iowa
#18 Indiana
#19 NW
#20 Harvard
#21 Louisville
#22 Maryland
#23 Minnesota
#24 Navy
#25





#16 Ohio State-Bill Wadley and the Buckeyes finally broke through to win the Big Ten title. They did it with a smothering depth that left some thinking they wouldn’t have the talent to run with the big boys in March. They did in fact and came within a relay of DQ of finishing 8th at the big meet.

Wadley has taken a page from Dennis Dale’s Minnesota teams by focusing on depth and retention. Only two of the dozen signees ranked in the top-100, but the internal competition that comes from a team numbering 45-50 swimmers should bring out the best of the rest.

Wadley also took a page from Minnesota by raiding Wisconsin of one of its best. Breaststroker Dak Stone is a legitimate star in the making and the leader of this class. A few years back OSU lost prize distance recruit JK Koehler when, he explained, he couldn’t find the competition needed to fulfill his potential. That’s clearly not the case now as demonstrated by Alex Miller’s decision to stay in state. He’s one of seven Ohioans bound for Columbus and indicative of what Buckeye fans can look forward to. Recruiting Class


Iowa

#17 Iowa - The Hawkeye state isn’t known as a swim recruiting hotbed. In part that’s because of a relatively small swimming population and in part because the kids they do produce head off in so many different directions following graduation. It’s a formula that left the Hawkeyes relying on second-tier recruits from neighboring states and the Polish National team.

That’s beginning to change, and is most evident on the Hawks’ signing of the top Iowa kid for the second straight year. Last year it was Jordan Huff. This year it’s Dustin Rhoads who both stayed home in part because of Iowa’s new facility. Swiss sprinter Erik van Dooren and German freestyler Manuel Belzer should both be Big Ten finalists and help Iowa’s relays move forward.

This class still relies on up-and-comers from just over state borders, but it also drew looks from several kids out west. If Marc Long and his staff can show results with guys like Tyler Lentz, Grant Betulius, Devon Meeks it will open up doors. For now, guys like Meeks are sold. “I like the direction the team is heading overall, and especially their free relays. The new pool looks awesome and I'm looking forward to swimming in it.” Recruiting Class


Indiana

#18 Indiana - Ray Looze’s early classes at Indiana were sizeable. The Hoosier Head Coach took some heat for it, but they built the foundation for Big Ten Championships and top-ten finishes. Since those early years IU’s classes have grown smaller but not at the expense of quality.

That’s certainly the case with this Hoosier class which, when combined with guys Indiana gets back, will put Indiana back into the Big Ten and NCAA mix this season. That quest starts with the fastest sprint backstroker of this year’s class James Wells. He will team with breaststroker Cody Miller, a National Youth Team member to form the core of IU’s medleys for years to come.

Patrick Scally is a rising talent in the distance events and the Hoosiers will welcome the return of redshirts Eric Ress and Jimmy Barbiere. John VanDyke leads a somewhat lean in-state class, but then again the traditionally talent-laden state was a bit thinner on the men’s side this year (Kyle Whitaker excepted). Recruiting Class


Northwestern

#19 Northwestern - A few years ago Bob Groseth signed two of the (if not the) year’s top sprinters in Matt Grevers and Kyle Bubolz. Those two signed back-to-back years which makes Jarrod Schroeder’s coup look even more impressive. That’s because he signed a pair of guys nearly as impressive.

The first step was signing local standout Dominec Culbec. Then he strengthened the Cats’ hand by adding rising British sprint sensation Ross McAuliffe. The pair are legit NCAA qualifiers in the hands of a coach who knows a thing or two about sprinting and they lead an impressive class for the first-year head coach.

Schroeder also signed a strong supporting cast that includes the likes of Mac Anthony and Chase Stephens. Those two should make an immediate impact along with guys like Timmy Smith who summed up Northwestern’s unique attributes including “great academics, a major city and a hungry coach and staff that clearly wants to be a winner” before also adding “not to mention a great aquatics center that sits right on the beach.” Add it up and Northwestern’s back on the rise. Recruiting Class


Harvard

#20 Harvard - The Crimson hit the recruiting trail hard this year and the results were evident. Ten swimmers from nine different states will make Cambridge home for the next four years and if all goes as hoped they’ll take an Ivy League Championship home with them.

Jason Ting leads the way. The Texas native is the only breaststroke signee of the group but that’s OK considering he’s one of the nation’s best. Spencer Goodman follows in his father’s footsteps. The distance swimmer’s dad played polo and swam for the Crimson while Mom, a Stanford grad was selected for the 1980 Olympic field hockey team.

One guy who didn’t follow footsteps was Danny Crigler. His dad was a decathlete at Princeton but son was sold on Harvard’s atmosphere where, “I know I will be pushed to not only excel athletically, but academically as well.”

The rest of the class is a nice balance, among strokes and from across the country. They’re mostly up-and-comers who have risen quickly in the last year and should help Harvard now and years from now. Recruiting Class


#1 Michgan
#2 Auburn
#3 Southern Cal
#4 Stanford
#5 Virginia
#6 Arizona
#7 Tennessee
#8 North Carolina
#9 California
#10 Purdue
#11 Georgia
#12 Texas
#13 Texas A&M
#14 Florida
#15 SMU
#16 Ohio State
#17 Iowa
#18 Indiana
#19 Northwestern
#20 Harvard
#21 Louisville
#22 Maryland
#23 Minnesota
#24 Navy
#25
Alabama

Louisville

#21 Louisville - Louisville didn’t quite hit the grand slam of their women’s team this year, but the Cardinals definitely take an extra base with this class. It’s led by a pair of sprinters Joao de Lucca and Erick Marques.

Both are Brazilian natives but should have no trouble transitioning to Louisville. For one Marques has been in the states swimming with the Davie Nadadores for almost a year. Second, UofL head coach Arthur Albiero knows what they’ll be going through, having made the same transition himself years ago Brazilian. They also won’t be alone either. Tampa’s Jordan Rees is more than capable of pulling his own weight on relays.

The Cardinals also picked up the top Indiana recruit not named Whitaker in Southeastern’s Nathan Kinney. Just as Albiero’s presence helped get de Lucca and Marques, Kinney’s signing had to have helped Louisville’s women land Florida transfer Lindsay Rodgers.

Breaststrokers Albert Lloyd and Kameron Chastain round out this impressive class. Chastain hails from Seymour, Indiana. Some might know Seymour as the hometown of John Cougar Mellencamp, but we remember it as the home of Olympian Pat Calhoun. Don’t think it hasn’t crossed Albiero’s mind to have a hometown boy swimming in his own hometown six years from now.


Maryland

#22 Maryland - The Terps have been a team in flux for a few years now. Dave Durden looked to be turning the program around but was barely there long enough to mow the lawn. Sean Schimmel was brought on board and quickly added John Pontz as an assistant. Pontz, of course, helped Northwestern bag some big recruits and they along with the entire staff look to have things off to a good start.

This isn’t a group that will win a NCAA Championship, but it is one that will help Maryland gain ground in the increasingly-competitive ACC. It’s also one that pulls heavily from the regional swimming scene – John Hauser and David McCormick from Pennsylvania, Brad Dillon from Virginia, and Colin Stang and Brooks Gabel from in state. They’re also the type of guys capable of improving and sold on the team concept espoused by the Terps.

That means Schimmel and his staff will have the opportunity to show progress and appeal to bigger recruits down the road. Building from the base like they’ve done isn’t the quickest path to success (that could be achieved with the signing of a handful of foreign mercenaries) but credit them for gong about things in a way that ensures long-term success. Recruiting Class


Minnesota

#23 Minnesota -The tough part about placing a ranking on any Minnesota class is the knowledge that they always turn out to be better than they appear on paper. The Gophers have won Big Ten titles and earned top-ten finishes by taking good swimmers and making them better. It’s not sexy stuff, but it’s something that has makes Minnesota one of the most consistent teams from year-to-year.

The other thing that has made Minnesota one of the best year-in, year-out is Dennis Dale’s mastery of developing sprinters and this year’s class gives him a lot to work with. Tony Challeen, Brian Dailey-Arndt and Drew Johnson do that alone and those are just the in-state guys. Add in transfers Nathan Jobe (North Dakota) and Mike Veronia (TCNJ) and Minnesota has the best homegrown 200 free relay in the country without even including Sandy Whitaker or Kyler VanSwol. VanSwol is the best incoming flyer Minnesota’s had since Martin Zielenski came to campus.

Zielenski was a part of some of Minnesota’s best teams. Time will tell if this group can equal previous history, but with this group they’ll be off to a fast start. Recruiting Class

Navy

#24 U.S. Naval Academy (Navy) - It’s not uncommon for Navy to pick up a plumb recruit here or there. Under Bill Roberts the Midshipmen have always managed to make their way onto the NCAA psyche sheet and even make the meet. A few years back it was Adam Meyer arrived via Auburn, but it was always just a swimmer or two here or there.

Meyer aside, this class outdoes all previous ones at Navy. Its big and talented and every time we ran a calculation or compared it head-to-head with another school it came out ahead. That’s to be expected when you get mid-distance freestylers like Hugh Davison and Charles Cullom. Says Cullom, explains, “I chose Navy because it has offers everything that I looked for; a great team and coaching staff, tough academics that will prepare me for the future, and I love its location in the heart of Annapolis, right on the bay.”

Sprinter Zach Ingold agrees. He felt Navy offered everything he could have wanted, “Discipline, integrity, and hard work are required of everyone there.” When you start hearing sprinters talk about discipline and hard work, well, you know you’ve got a winner. Recruiting Class


Alabama

#25 Alabama- "We're very excited about this group," Head Coach McIlquham tells us about this class. "The five who signed with us this spring really compliment the three we signed in November and give us a really balanced class that can help us in a lot of areas right off the bat.”

He may be right and one would be hard-pressed to pick a team that didn’t improve itself in as many areas as the Crimson Tide did. Most impressively, they did it by stealing recruits out of the backyards of their SEC rivals. McIllquham and his staff plucked contributors out of South Carolina, Kentucky, Georgia, and Louisiana not to mention additional depth from Texas, Ohio and Florida. BJ Hornikel leads this group. The sprinter is big and getting faster.

This group doesn’t do much to take down the SEC’s elite, but with additions like Devan Terry, Hunter Hinson and Brian Carr, Alabama is in a position to separate itself from the rest of the pack. Recruiting Class

#1 Michigan
#2 Auburn
#3 Southern Cal
#4 Stanford
#5 Virginia
#6 Arizona
#7 Tennessee
#8 North Carolina
#9 California
#10 Purdue
#11 Georgia
#12 Texas
#13 Texas A&M
#14 Florida
#15 SMU
#16 Ohio State
#17 Iowa
#18 Indiana
#19 Northwestern
#20 Harvard
#21 Louisville
#22 Maryland
#23 Minnesota
#24 Navy
#25 Alabama

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