A college-flavored treat: the first-years are first up.
December 12, 2022 by Keith Raynor in Preview with 0 comments
Ultiworld’s coverage of the 2023 college ultimate season are presented by Spin Ultimate; all opinions are those of the author(s). Find out how Spin can get you, and your team, looking your best this season.
It’s time to unwrap some presents as we introduce the 12 Days of College Ultimate. Over the next few weeks of December, we will be releasing one gift per day, though don’t count on getting any partridges in pear trees: it’s all college ultimate. From top players to strength bid predictions to highlights, we’ve got a little something for everyone.
Today’s topic: on the first day of 12, let’s take a look at some first-year players we expect will make a big impact right away.
Elsa Weybright (Oregon)
Weybright has been playing like a force of nature for a couple of seasons, and there is no reason to expect them to slow down once faced with collegiate competition. Weybright is the highest profile recruit to the storied Fugue program since Jesse Shofner, and the record for Oregon with talents of this level is sterling.
Not unlike Shofner, Weybright plays with tremendous pace, a blitzing offensive style that can leave defenders gasping after giving fruitless chase. Don’t mistake that language for simply referring to speed, either — that up-tempo playstyle can be driven by Weybright’s crossfield looks or in-motion deep shots, as well. They dropped a hefty 25 assists at YCC, good for third at the tournament, while adding 11 goals as a key part of the Oregon youth machine that dominated under-20 girls’ division ultimate in the US for the past 18 or so months.
Acacia Hahn (Western Washington)
Weybright’s high school teammate, Acacia Hahn, enters the college game as perhaps the most polished high school thrower in the country. The U20 national team captain posted 10 assists in Wroclaw and played this past club season with Portland Schwa. Their slicing throws crack through defenses, able to pierce through small windows to get into the high priced real estate behind the force at a discount rate.
When the disc isn’t in her hands, Hahn’s got dangerous quickness and an intense motor to guide strong legs. They can get off their feet for big plays that help them play above their size, and their senses as a thrower and plus agility grant a penchant for point blocks. Her skills are considerable, but it is the sharp focus she brings to the field that might be her most potent strength.
Quincy Booth (Georgia)
Just as perhaps the highest usage star in the team’s history, Marie Perivier, exits, in walks a talented young player used to playing central role in Quincy Booth.
Like Perivier, Booth is powerful field-stretching thrower already armed with elite club experience with Atlanta Ozone. Her cannon forehand is dangerous — she piled up 28 assists at YCC, good for second at the tournament — but she’s also very long, presenting a tough challenge for marks and a threat if she takes off towards the end zone herself. Those tools also make her an impactful defender — as 14 YCC blocks can attest — and you can add to that powerful pulls, too. Any coach would be tempted to play her both ways, and Booth is likely in for a very productive college career as the heir apparent in Athens.
Caroline Stone (Vermont)
The latest high profile addition to Vermont, Stone spent much of her time a JJUC1 cutting as a key part of the offensive unit. Stone is a big athletic player who cuts an imposing figure in the deep space, a deterrent to opposition hucks and a green light for her side’s throwers. But the Texan is also a solid thrower, demonstrating good edge control and considerable power. She could easily profile as a big handler.
Vermont has been rolling in top recruits lately, and Stone will only add to their coffers and compound the Ruckus hype. It’ll also be curious what role she takes on next to the likes of Emily Pozzy, Kennedy McCarthy, and Lylah Bannister. But safe to say the coaches know how to take strong young talents and integrate them.
Abigail Davis (BYU)
CHI and Davis are lined up to be a great fit together. That’s not a huge surprise, given how well connected the entities in the Utah ultimate community are, meaning there’s a good chance Davis will already have some familiarity with her new teammates, coaches, and culture of ultimate there. But it goes beyond those pieces and into style of play.
Davis is a grinder, a player who is a strong and skillful athlete, but whose superpower is the unfiltered effort she applies those abilities with. She leads with intense example, pushing to make each play on the field as if it is the most important moment in her career. At her best near the end zone, Davis was second on the US team at the U20 championships in goals with 12. Expect more big numbers from her this season.
Others to Watch
- Sydney Mannion (Virginia)
- Ashley Schlinger (Vermont)
- Autumn Saunders (BYU)
- Syris Linkfield (Oregon)
- Zoey Hughes (Oregon)
- Naomi Fina (Carleton)
- Lucy Tanner (Washington)
- Opal Burruss (Carleton)
- Erica Clarke (Michigan)
- Anna Pettis (Washington)
- Afri Flynn (UMass)
Declan Miller (Carleton)
Seemingly every recruit class has its hype centerpiece, the early consensus #1 pick. These players always have sterling resumes built upon multiple instances of high level success — big stage performances are a prerequisite to make an impression significant enough to be heralded as an out-of-the-box star. Declan Miller checks every box firmly and confidently. We’ve seen him be one of the top players on the US U20 squad at this past JJUC, on an elite high school level, and a notable presence in the semi-pro and elite club scenes.
There is not really a weak point in Miller’s game. He’s big, he’s fast, he’s skilled, and he’s composed. He can operate as a center handler, initiating cutter, or even give the business as a defender. For him, it may be about finding his role and handling the pressure of expectation that presents the biggest hurdle. Otherwise, he’s very much in the mold of others who have occupied this position in their class, like Liam Searles-Bohs and Tannor Johnson.
Mica Glass (Oregon)
There might not be a better pure thrower in the class this year than Glass. He didn’t quite get the exposure that Miller did, having not been selected to play with the national team in Poland, but Glass has already gotten solid run in both the AUDL and with Rhino on the elite club scene. Getting on the Rhino D-line likely helped add more to his game, as well.
Glass has the temperament and tools to be a great handler. He’s got a high IQ, a powerful forehand, and the ability to attack with his throws. The confidence and calm he brings to an offense are hallmarks of a player who can pick up the disc in big spots. As part of a powerful Ego recruiting class, he could be a harbinger for their return to the elite ranks of the division.
Nanda Min-Fink (Colorado)
The continuous clutches of talent hatching in the Mamabird nest now include 2023, headlined by Min-Fink, a ready-made two-way cutter. He brings a well-rounded skillset and balanced physical elements to the field. Good strength, speed, stamina, and footwork will make him a versatile asset for a deep team. And he’ll be effective on either side of the disc with those talents.
He’ll also be very comfortable with playing in structure, as a smart and experienced player with developed throwing abilities. While he isn’t at a pure handler level, his deep throws and breaks are still dangerous. Min-Fink will fit right in and contribute to Colorado’s championship-chasing campaign.
Louis Douville Beaudoin (Middlebury)
When it comes to recruiting powerhouses, Middlebury certainly outpaces the rest of the D-III men’s field. Following in the footsteps of (most recently) Leo Sovell-Fernandez, Douville Beaudoin brings more national team talent to the Pranksters.
He fits into the mold of their recent top end players, meaning he can be placed as a key defender who can guide the offense after the turn, which both Sovell-Fernandez and Walker Frankenberg took turns at. Alternatively, with his flexibility, he could also take a fulcrum role in the Prankster offense. He has to be the early pick for D-III Men’s Rookie of the Year, and has future POTY status written all over him.
Adam Grossberg (Georgia Tech)
While it feels like a lot of the top talent is heading to familiar destinations and powerhouse programs, Grossberg left Pennsylvania to join Georgia Tech Tribe, a team with Nationals aspirations that rarely has been able to put it all together. Considerable growth over the past year or so has really vaulted up Grossberg’s stock, as he got a lot of offensive run for Philadelphia AMP this club season.
His game comes with tremendous energy, as he bounces around with an aggressive style of play that puts the opposition on the back foot. While that puts him at his best operating downfield, that aggression can be put to good use with his deep shots, as well. As his decision-making sharpens, his considerable talent and explosiveness will make him one of the Southeast’s most productive players.
Others to Watch
- Ryan Shigley (Colorado)
- Jason Tapper (Brown)
- Henry Kennedy (NC State)
- Max Gade (Cal Poly SLO)
- Christian Belus (UNC Wilmington)
- Ben Horrisberger (Oregon)
- Alexander Belfiore (Stanford)
- Max Dehlin (Minnesota)
- Loic Billaut (UCLA)
- Henry Wayte (Oregon State)
- Owen Smith (Texas)
The umbrella title for this year’s WJUC and European youth championships. ↩