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2015 Lacrosse Week: Meet the Rooks with Ty Xanders

Founder of Recruiting Rundown and overall guru of all things lax recruiting, Ty Xanders, answers some questions on Virginia Lacrosse's incoming first year class.

Can this year's new Hoos get Virginia back to the promised land?
Can this year's new Hoos get Virginia back to the promised land?
Rob Carr/Getty Images

This season, Virginia's new faces will have as big an impact as any new class can as Coach Starsia fills important roles around the field with first years. To get a better idea of this incoming class, I talked to my good friend Ty Xanders, founder of Recruiting Rundown, a fantastic site chock full of the latest recruitment news and analysis for all things lacrosse.

STL: What is your initial take on this incoming class for Virginia?

TX: To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t as high on this class as I have been on the Hoos’ others over the last few years. That’s not to say that I don’t really like this group because I do, I just think it looks a bit top heavy on paper.  It’s funny - this is a class full of kids who I went back and forth on throughout their high school careers so with that said, there are a few first years who I’m anxious to see perform. It’s also a class that doesn’t need to be stellar right off the bat just because I feel like there’s some really solid talent waiting in the wings.

STL: With the news of Tanner Scales' injury, do Hooper and Greco have enough right out of the gate to hold off the competition Virginia is going to see?

TX: It’s very hard to predict how stud high school defensemen will become acclimated to the ACC, no matter how talented and highly touted they are. There’s a significant learning curve, however you trust the kids who are high IQ, multi-sport athletes and Hooper and Greco fit that billing. What worries me is that I felt much better about those kids before the absence of Danseglio and injury to Scales came to light and I say that because I felt like the young bucks would be great complementary defensemen early on as they became acquainted. Now, they’ll be thrown at the wolves in all likelihood.

Hooper’s a kid who looks more ready to handle the pressure, though keep in mind that I say that without having seen any of these guys play in person since the summer. He’s tough, used to playing against the best in New England, boasts impeccable footwork and has as good a stick as you’ll see for a close defenseman. I still remember getting texts from Matt Kavanagh (Notre Dame) during his PG year at Hotchkiss telling me how there was an underclassman absolutely giving him fits in practice all spring long. That’s a good sign that he can keep up with the jitterbugs of the world.

STL: Coach Starsia is high on Jack Falk, who will see a lot of D-Middie time. What can you say about his game?

TX: I was a massive advocate of Falk’s a few years ago, unfortunately he was marred by back injuries that limited his production at Landon towards the end of the career. He’s a type of midfielder who, as long as he’s healthy, is capable of being lights out. He was ranked in the Top 10 as a rising sophomore and junior and I still think that Falk can make that type of impact in Charlottesville.

In some ways, Falk will remind people of Ryan Tucker. He’s a high energy player with a phenomenal outside shot, deceptive athleticism and an innate understanding of how to be successful. I’m not one bit surprised to see him get some love at the defensive midfield, especially considering what UVA graduated there. However, don’t be surprised to eventually see him run on one of the first two midfield lines later in his career and kill it…. if he stays healthy.

STL: Who will develop the most in their time at UVA?

TX: That’s such a difficult answer due to how many variables there are when it comes to predicting success from high school to college, as I started to delve into earlier in the article. Does the player work hard or rest on his laurels? Does he respond well to the coaching staff? Does he put in the extra time shooting, on the wall, in the weight room, etc? Does the kid enjoy nightlife too much? There are a lot of variables that make predictions like that difficult.

I will say, however, that there are a few "sleepers" in this class who I can see becoming factors down the road. Tyler Breen is a slick and crafty player who needs to bulk up and refine his game in a few ways, but has all of the talent to be an impact player. Chase Campbell and Cooper Fersen help defensive depth incredibly and could be excellent down the road. Watch out for Will Railey in cage as well, as I think he’s come a long way since he committed and I scratched my head. That kid was as good as any goalkeeper in the country and will push Barrett over the next few years.

STL: Mike D'Amario didn't have a ton of fanfare, but Coach Starsia really likes his game. What's special about his style of play?

TX: D’Amario, who played for Albany area powerhouse Niskayuna, is a kid who will probably make me regret not putting him as an Under Armour All-American. I’ve had some conversations in the past with Starsia talking about how he was a lot more optimistic about D’Amario’s potential than I was, acting sort of curious as to why IL didn’t give him a ton of love. Initially, I loved the spark he provided but didn’t like how many turnovers he produced, though that seems to have gone away over time.

He’s a really slick and savvy dodger who has the stick skills of a Canadian and can finish right in front of the crease or from long range. Mike’s dangerous in the two-man game, which makes me excited to see how he plays with Lukacovic, who shares several of the same qualities as D’Amario but is obviously more of a quarterback type. Fans will also see that the upstate native makes a strong impact in the riding game.

STL: What's coming down the pipe for Virginia in terms of recruiting?

TX: To put it simply, a never-ending amount of talent is headed to Charlottesville over the next few years. Starsia has showed that he adores lights out athletes between the lines and he’ll be getting that, starting with No. 1 senior recruit Ryan Conrad from Baltimore. His future classmates who signed in November remind me in some ways of the grow of first years in that it’s a bit top heavy, has some players with a lot of upside but in reality, half of the class may have trouble seeing the field. Defensively, Zach Ambrosino (Taft School, Mass.) is a monster, as is Canadian d-man Theo Dol from rival Avon Old Farms.

I’m wowed by the class of 2016 recruits, starting with Dox Aitken (Haverford, Pa.) and Milan Murray (Thayer Academy, Mass.) at the midfield, though Starsia still feels like Aitken can head back to the attack to be a quarterback there and that’s not farfetched. Jared Conners (Pittsford, N.Y.) is a game-changer at LSM who the ‘Hoos will welcome with open arms, as they will with two players who are studs at the face-off X with in-state kids Sam Offutt and Luke Brugel.

Going younger, the 2017 class is insanely stacked from top to bottom, including four recruits in my Top 10 and one more to round out the Top 25. There’s an elite player at every position, at least based on the success they’ve had in the fall and summer recruiting circuit. Same goes for the class of 2018, where Grayson Sallade (Manheim Township, Pa.) and Ross Pridemore (Taft School, Conn.) are as good as it gets for young offensive recruits.