March 19, 2016 – College Soccer News issues its initial rankings of the Top 20 Men's College Soccer Recruiting Classes in 2016 based on the information available at this time. The landscape may change in the coming months as additional information becomes available regarding who is going to go where so in August College Soccer News will update its rankings based on the additional information available at that time and will expand its rankings to include the Top 50 Recruiting Classes in the country.
North Carolina put together a class that might help them be the favorites to win the national championship in 2016. Led by US youth national team players Cameron Lindley, Auston Trusty and Mauricio Pineda this class has the makings to be very special. Andrew Romig, Nathaniel Adamolekun, Jeremy Kelly, John Skahan, Giovanni Montesdeoca and Anthony McCafferty will join the team as well in fall to deepen an already talented roster. And if that wasn’t enough former US youth National teamer Drew Murphy transfers in to Carolina from UCSB.
Sleeper- Nils Bruening. The forward out of Germany had to sit last fall for a talented Carolina team, and word out of Chapel Hill is that he might end up being their best player in the fall, which says a lot for a team as deep and talented as Carolina.
Keegan Kelly, Donovan Pines, Miles Stray, Mike Heitzman, and Luca Levee spotlight a very strong incoming freshman class but it might be the two transfers that give Maryland the number 2 class of 2016. Jake Rozhansky transferred from Virginia and Gordon Wild who was one of the nation’s leading scores at USC Upstate add a huge piece to the Maryland attack, and could be what makes Maryland a major contender for the College Cup.
Sleeper- Donovan Pines- The towering centerback is athletic and powerful, his feet need to get better but he might have the most potential in the class.
This ranking is heavily weighted on what decision Emmanuel Sabbi decides to do. There are rumors that Sabbi has pro options in Europe. The talented forward out of Ohio will make a good Akron recruiting class a great one. Add US Youth national team player Nicholas Hinds, Canadian U20 defender Reggie Laryea to go along with Marcel Zajac, Jesus Perez, Alex Mapp, Jackson Crawford, Tor Saunders, Jeremy Pollard and Jonathan Lewis and Akron will have plenty of good choices in the fall.
Sleeper- Jonathan Lewis- The mid out of Florida is smooth on the ball and can dictate the temp of the game, has the chance to be the next big time midfielder that Akron produces.
The Buckeyes loaded up in the 2016 class with four players with national team experience. U20 US National team defender Andrew Lombard transfers in from Northeastern. Northern Ireland youth international and two time junior college All-American defender Niall Logue from Yavapai, Canadian U18 National team midfielder Leonardo Kosaka, and US U17 National team midfielder George Braima join the Buckeyes in the fall. Incoming freshman Jack Holland and Brennon Davis as well as transfers Brady Blackwell from San Diego State and John Schuman from Wake Forest and Ohio State might have enough to make a run past the round of 16 in 2016.
Sleeper- After sitting a year of residency (Michigan transfer), former U17 National Team forward Nate Kohl comes back into the fold for a Buckeye team that returns the majority of its offense. The strong and powerful Kohl might be a difference maker for the Buckeyes in 2016 on the offensive side of the ball.
Virginia added some major pieces for the 2016 class lead by US Youth National team players Terrell Lowe, Lucas Mendes, Weston Mckennie, Raheem Taylor-Parkes and Aaron James. Victor Falck, Joshua Goldstein, Colin Shutter and transfer Bay Kurtz are big time players as well and could help Virginia challenge North Carolina for the ACC Championship in the fall.
Sleeper- David Norris the centerback from Orlando City has all the tools to be a big time college soccer player. Athletic and powerful Norris might have to adjust to the speed of play in college soccer, but he has the tools to become a factor sooner rather than later.
US youth national teamer Isaiah Young headlines the class. The speedy forward/mid is a handful. Add Michael Desheilds, John Menke, Joey DeZart, EmaTwumasi, Bruno Lapa and Eddie Folds, and Bobby Muuss continues the recruiting dominance that has been at Wake Forest for the last decade.
Sleeper- EmaTwumasi the mid/forward is crafty athletic and can beat players all over the park. He’ll need to get used to the college game, but with the way Wake Forest plays it won’t take him long to be a major factor for the Demon Deacons.
Elijah Rice headlines the class. A big time forward that will cause havoc in college soccer as he has done at every level as a youth. Blake Bodily, Jared Townsend, Handwalla Brown, Bryce Logan, Jasper Malamud, Ryan Sailor and Jesse Fitzgerald add to a Washington side that looks to bounce back from a 2015 year that Washington would like to forget.
Sleeper- Blake Bodily- The outside mid is smooth on the ball, combines well and can go at defenders in 1v1 situations with a great deal of success. Look for Jaime Clarke to create a system to get him isolated to play to his strengths.
Ethan Zubak might be one of the better forwards in the country. Great on the ball, good in the air, and has all the making to be a major focal point for New Mexico moving forward. Centerback Matthew Constant has seen time with the youth national team and should come in and play right away. Add Noah Bushey, Chris Lovato and Grayson Dupont and New Mexico should cause some problems come NCAA Tournament time.
Sleeper- Noah Bushey a midfielder who reads the game well, can ping the ball all over the park, and can unlock defenses, expect him to fit in well with Jeremy Fishbein’s system.
Fresh off a run to the national finals, Clemson’s 2016 class reloads itself with talent. US youth national teamer Tanner Dietrickhealines the class, but don’t overlook Harrison Kurtz and Michael Swift. Both add size and speed to the class and should be impactful players for Clemson. Add Jon Breed, Nate Hall, Cale Thorne, Robby Jacobs and Joaquin MirallesSanz and Clemson should be competitive yet again.
Sleeper- Joaquin MirallesSanz the goalkeeper from Villareal FC is quick and athletic. He doesn’t have the size of most college goalkeepers but could be in line to be another standout goalie for the Clemson Tigers moving forward.
Depending on how commitments fall California could end up with a higher ranked recruiting class, but for now they stay at #10. Goal scoring machine Simon Lekressner could be a big time forward in college, and David Burns has all the tools to be the next big time center back from a school that seems to produce them year in and year out. Brian O’Hara, Drake Callendar and Javier Macias round out a very good class for a California side that looks to compete for the PAC 12 championship.
Sleeper- Keep an eye out for David Burns, he spent limited time in and out of youth national team camps, but he can flat out play. Athletic, good in the air, and has good passing range. If he can adjust to the speed of the college game quickly, he could be an impact player right away.
It didn’t take long for Kevin Hudson to get the ball rolling at SMU. The team made a nice tournament run in 2016 and this class should help to keep the Mustangs in the national scene for the years to come. Toshiki Yasuda from FC Dallas should help bolster the class going forward. The crafty midfielder can do a little bit of everything going forward and is a handful going at guys 1v1. DJ Williams should help impact the team going forward as well with his pace. Edwin Munjoma, Boston Gilbert, Cristian Gonzalez and Garrett McLaughlin help shape out a very good recruiting class.
Sleeper- SMU has two sleepers in the class. Edwin Munjoma who plays left back for FC Dallas has the athleticism to play right away and be successful at the college level. Garrett McLaughlin is the other. A towering forward who can score goals, McLaughlin has the strength and ability to make life difficult for the opposition. Expect to hear his name a lot in the future as he has all the tools to become a big time playmaker.
Louisville had the best RPI in the country for any team not in the NCAA tournament in 2015 due to not finishing over .500. That shouldn’t be a problem in 2016! Louisville adds the Ivy League defender of the Year in former Dartmouth goalie Stefan Cleveland, a player they desperately needed. Add two time junior college All-American Mohamed Thiaw up top from Cincinnati State who can unbalance defenses with his pace and skill and Louisville strengthens two very big needs. Connor Brazil, Cherif Dieye, Grant Hollkamp, Mouhamadou HaydSarr and Kataro Umeda round out the class.
Sleeper- Kataro Umedo. The holding mid out of Cleveland is a hard nose player, who technically can run the midfield for a Kenny Lolla style of play. Calm on the ball and can play
It was a rough year for Steve Nichols in 2015. Loyola went 2-13-2 and finished last in the Patriot League, but 2016 can bring new light with a recruiting class as talented as any other in the Patriot League. US Youth national team forward Brian Saramago out of the Red Bulls highlights the class. The powerful and speedy forward can stretch defenses and score goals. Dominic Duncan is also talented as is Barry Sharifi. Add Nicholas Brown, Michael Colao, Francisco Conteras, Joshua Fawole, Shane Kastl, Juan Ramirez and Jonathan Sousa and you have a group of newcomers that might help turn the program around in the near future.
Sleeper- Barry Sharifi and Nicholas Brown. Another forward from the Red Bull, technical and tactical, combines well and scores goal, between him and Saramago there should be enough goals to make Loyola a force moving forward. Brown is another forward, who has a great first step and if he can adapt to the college game quickly will be a handful for defenders.
IU seems to be a common thread in top recruiting classes around the country and this class is no different. Center back and US Youth national teamer Alex Palazzolo headlines the class. Indiana Fire left back Spencer Glass will strengthen a backline and give IU options in the position. Will Eslinger, Isaac Friendt, Ian Black and Drew Nuelle finish out a very good IU class.
Sleeper- Spencer Glass! Tough to think that Glass will play over Andrew Gutman, but don’t be surprised if IU transitions either Glass or Gutman to an outside mid to get both of them on the field.
Duke had an amazing recruiting class until this week when Matt Olusunde and Will Pulisic decided to sign over in Europe. But rest assure Blue Devil fans there is enough in this class to do well in the years to come. The class is headlined by Binghampton transfer and Herman Trophy candidate Robert Moewes who should slide into goal immediately. Add Colby Agu, John Doran, Chinenye Uche, Suniel Veerakone, Maz Moser and Brandon Williamson to the mix and Duke's class looks very good.
Sleeper- Max Moser the German defender, could see himself in the midfield for Duke to add bite. A very good talent that will add strength to either the backline or in midfield, expect big things from him in the ACC.
2015 was an off year for a Michigan State program that has been a regular in the NCAA tournament, but have no fear Spartan fans help is on the way. Forward and youth national teamer Giuseppe Barone should make an immediate impact for a Spartan team looking for goals. Add defenders Michael Wetunga and Michael Pimlott to help strengthen the backline and forward Michael Beckett and the Spartans should be in the mix for the NCAA’s yet again.
Sleeper- Michael Beckett- A bruising type of center forward, who will be a handful for the Big Ten, needs work on his feet but has all the tools to become a big time player at Michigan State.
Another good recruiting class for UC Santa Barbara. Daniel Amo headlines the class. The Right to Dream forward out of Connecticut can do it all on the ball and is great running at players. Red Bull defender Kyle Perno will add depth to the backline, and Sebastian Des Pres, Noah Billingsley, Lamar Batista, and Milo Barton round out a class that will help.
Sleeper- Kyle Perno, a bit undersized as a true center back, but has the grit and bite to make an impact for UCSB going forward. Can play out of the back and reads the game well.
Georgetown needed to reload after seeing what some might consider the most talented senior class in the country leave and another depart to ink an early Homegrown contract.This class is highlighted by forward Ifunanyachi Achara from the Right to Dream Program, the powerful and talented forward should come in and fill the goal scoring touch that was lost when All-American Brandon Allen graduated. Add to the class Jorge Burke, Mason Deeds, J.B. Fischer, David Mason, Dylan Nealis, Austin Riddick and Riley Strassner and Georgetown might have enough firepower to continue its dominance in the Big East.
Sleeper- Mason Deeds, the Red Bull center back is good in the air and good with his feet, mobility might be the biggest question in his game, but his mind for the game and positioning there may be no questions at all.
In what might just be the most talented recruiting class to ever come to LMU, this recruiting class has a little bit of everything. The class is led by Right to Dream forward Sahid Conteh out of Santa Barbara SC. The powerful and speedy forward will need to adapt to the college came but has the frame and skill to be a very good college plaer. Garrett Amador, Jose Benavides, Nicholas Dauchot, William DuBay, Paul Lewis, Chairat Puengrod, Rodrigo San Roman, and Brandon Sanchez round out the class.
Sleeper- There are two sleepers in the class. Chairat Puengrod and Brandon Sanchez both are teammates with Sahid Conteh at Santa Barbara SC, a club team that has dominated the youth national club scene for the past five years. Both players have the ability to step in right away and help LMU.
The class might end up higher if all the verbal’s sign but to this point Reggie Cannon headlines the class. The speedy and talented defender out of Texas can unlock defenses with and without the ball, a steady defender, expect big things from him. Ethan Shacknai, Duncan Werling and transfer Jason Romero complete the class.
Sleeper- Jason Romero! The two time All American out of Pima’s Junior College is a monster up top. Romero has proven he can score at every level and now takes his talents to one of the biggest stages in college soccer at UCLA.
UMBC rounds out College Soccer News top 20 with a class that is full of athletes. Headlined by US Youth international Trey Vinson. The defender can cover ground, is good with his feet, and his a good soccer IQ. Expect Vinson to be an immediate contributor. Jordan Dove, Tre Pulliam, Hunter Trefney, Colin Weyant and Nick Gumbs round out the class.
Sleeper- Tre Pulliam! The forward out of Maryland is a very gifted athlete, and was part of a Baltimore Celtic team that won the U17 National Championship last year. He has a great first step and is able to score big time goals for any team he plays on. He will be a huge factor in the American East for the next four years.