2023 D-I Men’s Rookie of the Year

The first-years who have already established themselves among the division's best overall players.

Each year, Ultiworld presents our annual College Awards. Our staff evaluates the individual performances of players from throughout the season, talking to folks around college ultimate, watching film, and look at statistics, voting upon the awards to decide those to be honored. The regular season and the college Series are both considered, with extra emphasis for performances in the competitive and high-stakes environment at Nationals.

The Rookie of the Year award recognizes players who impressed in their first college ultimate seasons. That includes both freshman and true rookies. Each season, it feels like this group of players becomes more impactful; as the level of youth play and of coaching and development rise, so does the bar for the division’s best rookie. Whether they come to the college game from years of youth experience, a background in other sports, or none of the above, these players made debuts to remember in high-level college play.

D-I Men’s 2023 Rookie Of The Year

Mica Glass (Oregon)

Oregon’s Mica Glass lets go of a forehand at the 2023 College Championships. Photo: William ‘Brody’ Brotman — UltiPhotos.com

‘Precocious’ is a word that we in the media often use to describe rookies contributing at a high level. D-line starter who takes a tough handler matchup? Precocious. O-line finisher whose number is called for a couple of pull plays each game? Precocious. Plug-and-play facilitating handler who flashes a good huck every now and then? Precocious. And yet the word falls impossibly short of describing the debut season of Mica Glass. Try ‘rambunctious,’ or ‘anomalous,’ or ‘irrepressible.’

The fact is that Glass strode into Ego’s game plan like Mt. St. Helens pyroclastic flow. He was that devastating – and that unpredictable. On any given point he was liable to bull-charge right into the teeth of the opposing defense, make a tough physical grab, and toss something outrageous into the end zone. And that was the real differentiator! The other two players on this year’s rookie podium have overall skill sets on par with Glass, but none of them matched his take, take, take mentality. It’s what led him to put up a double-double at Nationals (11 goals, 17 assists) – as well as to mention some of the more entertaining turnovers of the tournament. If you’re Ego, though, you’ll take the flamboyant mistakes if it comes with the kind of hurt he put on Colorado in the game that cemented his case for this award: two goals, five assists, and two blocks in extravagant no-holds-barred style.

The future holds no promises, but one thing is certain for Ego: it’ll be all Glass, no brakes.

First Runner-Up

Declan Miller (Carleton)

Carleton’s Declan Miller looks for a throwing option at Florida Warm Up 2023. Photo: William ‘Brody’ Brotman — UltiPhotos.com

Carleton CUT were a team transformed in 2023 after a few lackluster1 seasons. While it was definitely a team-wide glow-up, it’s hard not to come away with the sense that the catalyst that spurred them to the return to greatness was the polished, determined, and downright extraordinary play of super-recruit Declan Miller. He was relentless as a defender. He sparkled as a downfield target. A trustier reset from the 2023 season is hard to find. His deep throws were upper-echelon readymade for the division. It’s a shame that an injury kept him from competing with CUT at Nationals – and possibly kept him from claiming the top spot on this podium.

Second Runner-Up

Gavin Abrahamsson (Massachusetts)

UMass’ Gavin Abrahamsson attempts a diving catch at the 2023 D-I College Championship. Photo: Kevin Leclaire – UltiPhotos.com

Gavin Abrahamsson’s Zoodisc teammates call him Megatron. I’ll be honest – I have no idea what that means. But drawing from the context clues of Abrahamsson’s play, it likely refers to his elite-level cut timing, trampoline jumps, or smothering defense. He paced Zoodisc with 14 goals at Nationals – and tacked on five blocks for good measure as the team’s second-most frequent crossover to D-line (behind First Team All-American Wyatt Kellman). His 2023 usage indicates that the team believe he is a bedrock for their success moving forward. After having witnessed Megatron’s thunderous debut as a key part of Zoodisc’s transformation, it’s hard to argue with them.

  1. at least, lackluster compared to the program’s illustrious history 

  1. Edward Stephens
    Edward Stephens

    Edward Stephens has an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. He writes and plays ultimate in Athens, Georgia.

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