October 28, 2013 by Charlie Eisenhood in Analysis, Rankings with 120 comments
These are Ultiworld’s 2014 College Open Division preseason Power Rankings. You can always check the latest rankings by clicking on the tab in the navigation bar.
25. Ohio: After a peak year that saw Mitch Cihon and Connor Haley pack the stats columns at the College Championships, Ohio is in for a tougher haul. Cihon has graduated, though Haley is considering a fifth year. Will some new stars rise to the occasion?
24. Cornell: Metro East teams never cracked the Ultiworld Top 25 last year, but Cornell is looking strong this season. Jake Stevelman returns for his 2nd year captaining and the always well-rounded team adds some weapons in Joe Thompson (2012 1st team All-Region, FOTY at Syracuse) and Matt Chun, a top O line cutter that took last year off.
23. Georgia: Elliot Erickson (Chain Lightning) is back for Jojah, which is otherwise a team dealing with a lot of turnover this season. But the depth of their program should keep them in the mix in the Southeast as usual.
22. Iowa: After scoring the biggest upset at Regionals last season, Iowa will look to extend that into a return to Nationals this year. Jake Kersten is going to be a matchup nightmare for everyone this season.
21. UNC-Wilmington: The Seamen lose captain Tommy Lamar, but return a strong cast of athletic role players. Robert Goode, who was already strong last year, should be a force this season.
20. Florida State: FSU loses top playmakers Ben Stringer and Jordan Huston, but 2nd year captain Chris Larocque (who did this last year) is back. They will likely be battling Florida again for a berth at Nationals; will they have enough firepower to make it back to Nationals for the 2nd year in a row?
19. Luther: The surprise qualifier out of the North Central last season is only going to get better this year after not losing a single player to graduation. Josh Johnson is one of the country’s best players.
18. Stanford: Although Ben Funk moves on, Stanford has always been known for its depth. Cody Mills should be 1st team All-Region talent this season and hopes to lead Bloodthirsty back to the show.
17. Washington: Khalif El-Salaam will look to soften the blow of the departure of Duncan Linn as the Sundodgers try to make it to their fourth straight College Championships. Some strong incoming talent should help their efforts.
16. Arizona: Sunburn hopes to get back out to a hot start like they did in 2013 with Callahan nominee and Southwest POTY Brice Dixon leading the squad. Can you say diamond zone?
15. UC Davis: Nobody saw Davis coming last year, but they exploded late in the season and made their way into the quarterfinals thanks to strong coaching and brilliant play from Eli Kerns, who returns this season. With great returning depth, they will be the frontrunner in the Southwest this year.
14. Dartmouth: Although Dartmouth loses their top playmaker Ian Engler, the team has been developing some great players who should help fill his shoes. Steady coaching from Brook Martin will keep this team near the top of the New England Region.
13. Florida: Last year’s Florida team was very young and still almost made it to Nationals. With a year of experience and Bobby Ley (Florida United), a player to build around, in his junior year, they hope to rise back to supremacy in the Southeast.
12. Texas A&M: Texas A&M couldn’t quite do enough last season to bring home a third bid for the South Central, but this year’s team should be up to the challenge. They bring back Dalton Smith and Matt Bennett, one of the Region’s best duos, and will be better prepared to clash with the nation’s best.
11. Tufts: One of the most consistent programs in the Northeast will be looking to bounce back after a disappointing 2013 campaign left them out of Nationals (after making semis at the Stanford Invite!). Gene Buonaccorsi and Carter Thallon will pace their 2014 efforts.
10. Harvard: Jeremy Nixon has been on fire in the early season and rookie John Stubbs will make an immediate impact for Red Line, who will be the favorite to repeat as New England champions. Harvard just beat Tufts in the finals of Huck A Hunk, a bellwether Northeast tournament.
9. Carleton: Few teams have the consistency of Carleton, so despite losing some outstanding talent (including Simon Montague and Nick Stuart), they will still be near the top by May. They will look to Justin Lim and Jesse Bolton to step into larger roles.
8. Wisconsin: Every year, Wisconsin turns a fresh set of rookies into serious contributors. Though they lose Callahan nominee Brian Hart, Colin Camp, their MVP at the 2013 College Championships, is back. Fifth year Jordan O’Neill will be their primary option downfield on offense.
7. Pittsburgh: Pitt won’t be the same without Tyler Degirolamo and Alex Thorne running the show on offense, but they still have great depth and an outstanding program. Marcus Ranii-Dropcho is ready for stardom as a rookie class highlighted by Jonah Wisch (Spinners) will make key contributions.
6. Minnesota: Grey Duck will be looking to start with a clean slate after a devastating performance at North Central Regionals last year left them out of Madison. Josh Klane (Sub Zero) is going to be one of the college division’s most dangerous throwers. With the lightning fast Reese Hornnes returning from an ACL tear that kept him out all of last season, Minnesota is set for a big year.
5. Texas: Will Driscoll and Mitchell Bennett are both back for TUFF, meaning that the team will lose hardly anyone from their 2013 iteration. That will make for a dangerous 2014 team — one that will be better prepared to get into the bracket at Nationals.
4. Colorado: Much like the Doublewide/Johnny Bravo roster battle this year, Colorado matches Texas step for step by bringing back a huge lineup of superstars: Jimmy Mickle, Tim Morrissy, Hidde Sneider, and more. With the keys to the offense handed over to the team’s younger players and the Bravo contingent leading the defense, Mamabird is poised for a return to the top of the college division.
3. Oregon: 2013 Callahan winner Dylan Freechild is back with Ego this season and hopes to lead the team to a Nationals title, not just a #1 seed. No Aaron Honn (studying abroad) could make things challenging for Oregon, but they have a very deep bench. A retooling of the offense could be just what the team needs to break through past semis.
2. North Carolina: With one of the premier defenses in the country plus a very dangerous Christian Johnson leading the way on offense, UNC is poised for their best season in years. They do graduate Callahan nominee Tristan Green, but it was Johnson (10G, 16A) who was the MVP at Nationals for Darkside last year. A big, strong, physical team, UNC won’t be happy with anything less than a semifinals appearance this season.
1. Central Florida: So often in ultimate, you have to get to the big game before you win it. That’s good news for Central Florida, who played one of the best games of the 2013 College Championships in their win over Carleton in the semifinals before crumbling against Pittsburgh in the finals. They are the best positioned to win that game this year. Nearly all of their top contributors (save for Michael Hickson) return this season, including Mischa Freystaetter, Mike Ogren, and John Best. Great systems and smart coaching from Andrew Roca will have them looking for gold just four years after the team got shut out at Regionals.