Signing Day: 3 questions following early signing period
With the early signing period for college golf in the books, Golfweek staffers Lance Ringler, Julie Williams, Cassie Stein and Brentley Romine take a look back.
Which men's and women's team had the best class? Which players could make immediate impacts with their future teams?
Those questions and more are answered in this signing period roundtable:
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1. Which men's team had the best class? Which women's team had the best class?
Lance Ringler, Assistant Editor Golfweek.com: It would be really hard to top Texas on paper. Head coach John Fields locked up three top 25 players including two in the top five. The reigning U.S. Junior champion Scottie Scheffler is the top prize in the 2014 class. Joining Scheffler is No. 5 Doug Ghim and No. 25 Taylor Funk. This trio should help keep Texas in the hunt for national championship the next few years. It’s also hard to not recognize Illinois. Head coach Mike Small continues to keep the Illini in discussions when talking about top men’s golf programs. The Illini inked a pair of top 20 players in No. 9 Dylan Meyer and No. 18 Nick Hardy.
The 2014 class might be consider one of the weaker classes we have seen in the past few years, but certainly Alabama snagging two of the top 3 players in top-ranked Nicole Morales and No. 3 Lakareber Abe will be hard to top.
Julie Williams, Assistant Editor Golfweek.com: Hard to argue against Texas’ class, which includes top-ranked Scottie Scheffler, No. 5 Doug Ghim and No. 25 Taylor Funk. A great infusion of young talent. On the girls side, Alabama took a strong pair of players. Top-ranked Nicole Morales is a bubbly, mature player who can make an immediately impact. Lakareber Abe is a similarly strong, consistent player.
Cassie Stein, Assistant Editor Golfweek.com: On the men's side, Texas. Coach John Fields did a superb job of recruiting the past couple of seasons and the class of 2014 is no different. He signed three players inside the top 25 of Golfweek’s Rankings, including the No. 1, Scottie Scheffler. Look for this team to be dynamite in years to come.
On the women's side, Texas A&M. Every one will say Alabama as it signed two of the top three players in the Goflweek Rankings, but A&M didn’t do too bad of a job either. The Aggies signed Marijosse Navarro (No. 4) and Maddie Szeryk (No. 7), both of whom will fit in nicely with this young team as they graduate four players.
Brentley Romine, Assistant Editor Golfweek.com: Texas on the men's side will be tough to beat. Scottie Scheffler, the 2013 U.S. Junior champ, is the top-ranked player in the Class of 2014 while No. 5 Doug Ghim is also one of the top player sin the country. Add No. 25 Taylor Funk, son of PGA Tour player Fred Funk, and you have a pretty talented class.
On the women's side, Alabama inked No. 1 Nicole Morales and No. 3 Lakareber Abe, so I'll give the Tide the edge over Texas A&M, which got a pair of top-10 signees in Marijosse Navarro and Maddie Szeryk.
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2. Which player (boy and girl) inside the top 25 has the best chance of making an immediate impact?
Ringler: Alice Chen of Princeton, N.J., will be a player that will have a lot to do with how well the Lady Paldins continue to improve under Kelley Hester. Chen is ranked No. 12 in the 2014 class and will make a big impact in Greenville next fall. On the men’s side, No. 23 Connor Smith of Birmingham, Ala., will be welcomed into the lineup at Middle Tennessee. The Blue Raiders have been trying to find the path back into the top 50 and Smith will be a big part of that formula.
Williams: After Scheffler’s summer play, which included the U.S. Junior Amateur title, he should immediately make Texas’ traveling squad. On the girls’ side, expect Shannon Aubert to transition easily from junior golf in Florida to a spot on the Stanford roster. Aubert is a mature and competitive player, with a well-developed work ethic.
Stein: Since California will be losing most of its starting lineup next year, No. 20 K.K. Limbhasut will be given opportunity right off the bat to crack the lineup. If he does (make the lineup) as a freshman, he’s there to stay. He’s struggled this past year with final-round scores, but if he can find rhythm in those rounds, look out.
Wake Forest is only graduating one player next year on the women's side, and that is the perfect place for No. 21 Erica Herr to step in. She is one for consistent finishes. In her last four starts, she hasn’t finishes outside the top 15. She gained experience this year when she played in the U.S. Women’s Open before missing the cut.
Romine: I think Scheffler and Morales both will make easy transitions to the college game, but I'll go with Austen Truslow, who signed with Virginia. He should be able to earn a spot in the lineup right away and his victory at the Junior Players this year showed that he can win on tough golf courses. On the women's side, Shannon Aubert could slot into a lineup spot for Stanford and find immediate success.
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3. Which player (boy and girl) outside the top 25 has the best chance to surprise as a college player?
Stein: Jonah Texeira is a name maybe people don’t recognize, but if you go to Southern California, people know his name everywhere. He has established himself as one of the top players in the area with his play in the San Diego Junior Golf Association. According to USC head coach Chris Zambri, he 'is a very athletic player with a beautiful and powerful swing.’
North Carolina signee Alexandra Harkins is just barely outside the top 25 at No. 28, but she has made a name for herself over the last two years and she can outright play. Harkins advanced to the Round of 16 at the 2013 U.S. Women’s Amateur before being eliminated. She was 2012 Rolex Junior All-American and had six top-five finishes. Harkins has shown she can play with the women, and now just needs to prove that in college.
Williams: Keep an eye on Dylan Wu, an Oregonian who flew under the radar on the West Coast but will play for Northwestern next year. He’s certainly not as big a name as Matthew Fitzpatrick, but could provide some much-needed backup for the Englishman. Also keep an eye on Jordy LaBarbera, who will play for Arkansas. LaBarbera played for Allen high school in Texas, a golf powerhouse. She knows how to compete in the spotlight.
Romine: We've already seen current freshman Ashlan Ramsey play well in her first semester with the Tigers. Could No. 39 Marisa Messana find some of that same success next fall? On the men's side, I saw Zach Healy win the 2012 Golfweek East Coast Junior and was impressed. He'll play for Georgia starting next fall and the Georgia native could fit in well.