By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 2/9/12
The numbers are amazing: Over 50 sophomore boys have already committed to play lacrosse at Division I colleges and made their choices public.
A year ago at this time, only a handful of sophomores had committed. And it’s not just the Top 5 schools getting the commitments. In all 15 Division I colleges have received sophomore verbals (not all are public).
The rush of sophomore commits has created a large stir in the world of Division I lacrosse and beyond. Speaking to coaches on both sides, college and high school – most don’t like it; and some hate the fact that players are making decisions well before they have a chance to mature – physically or mentally – or make a serious mark as a varsity player. Some have not played any varsity lacrosse or very little.
This year’s crop of sophomore commits does include a number of players that stood out even as freshmen at the varsity level on nationally ranked teams. Some of these players seem as “can’t miss” as you can get.
And you sure can’t blame the players. If you are getting an offer from a school like Johns Hopkins, Virginia or Duke, are you going to turn it down? And if you do, is the same opportunity going to come again next year?
This topic was addressed when Ty Xanders of Inside Lacrosse and I hosted Calvert Hall coach Bryan Kelly last Thursday night on our bi-weekly radio show, “Lax High” on the Lacrosse Radio Network. Kelly noted that the rush to get sophomore commits is of concern to high school coaches and should be addressed by the NCAA.
One of biggest concerns from high school coaches is whether the sophomore that commits will remain as motivated to improve after committing so early in his high school career. And will the number of de-commits rise? Or will colleges change their minds about the players if they don’t see the improvement they had projected? And now there is more likelihood that the coach that recruited the player could leave for another job in the three-year period before the player arrives.
Are we really happy to have 15-year-olds making these life decisions about college and lacrosse when so many other college students don’t often decide until midway through their senior year.
Indeed, the emphasis on summer tournaments, recruiting showcases and club programs has risen by a remarkable rate in the past few years. Surely, the media has hopped on the recruiting bandwagon. This is a direct reflection of the interest in recruiting and the increased competition for the top players among the now 65 Division I men’s colleges.
But somewhat lost in all this is the fate of the late bloomer? What about the senior that matures and develops in his junior year or in the summer before his senior year and is locked out because few Division I schools have any spots left. What about the senior that has not gone on the summer tourney scene due to injury or didn’t play much in the fall of his senior year because he excels on the football field or the soccer field?
There are surely many examples of top seniors that have few options in Division I lacrosse. One is Hatboro-Horsham senior defenseman Dom DeFazio, a two-time First Team All-Suburban One Continental Conference pick who fell behind the recruiting scene.
Two of DeFazio’s past coaches stated that he is capable of playing at a number Top 20 Division I schools. But why does he find himself seemingly locked out of the Division I recruiting scene?
One, he is a standout football player and strongly considered playing college football at first. Then, when the fall recruiting season came in 2011, he was unable to play due to a separated shoulder, causing him to miss such key recruiting events as the Philly Showcase.
DeFazio is still looking for a home to play D1 lacrosse. He will have to walk on somewhere or play at the Division II or III level, which surely is no small consolation.
But for those who wish to play lacrosse at the highest level and are able, there seems to be no time to wait and precious little time to choose.