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The Expected Lineup Impact of the Class of 2024 Boys

6/15 CGC Staff

In a few short months, the class of 2024 will finish their last junior tournaments and complete a long junior golf journey. The challenge of college awaits, as the incoming freshmen will embark on a new journey of balancing academics, living on their own, and fitting in with their new team. Many of the top recruits of this class will be expected to contribute immediately to their team’s lineup, and others may settle for an early backup role. Whatever the expectations, the freshmen should welcome the challenge, embrace the opportunity, and enjoy the experience and challenges ahead of them.

We’ve taken a deep dive into our top-10 boys’ recruiting classes, looked at what their teams’ rosters have lost and the impact the newcomers can make for their teams. Some freshmen are entering rosters that continue to have a strong lineup with solid backup options, and others are joining teams that have spots to fill from graduated seniors and ‘covid year’ fifth years. Whatever the situation, these highly touted freshmen will be hungry to compete and contribute. *Please note that at the time of printing, we don’t have full information on all transfers that may be entering the schools in this article.

University of Alabama: Coach Jay Seawell’s team will look quite a bit different come the fall of 2024. Following the departure of star sophomore Nick Dunlap to turn professional, 11th ranked Alabama also lost three lineup stalwarts and one lower lineup contributor to graduation. Replacing five athletes can be difficult, but Seawell is inheriting the number one 2024 recruiting class to soften the blow. Returners Jonathan Griz and Jones Free expect to return to the lineup, and last year’s freshmen will be hungry to crack the lineup after a year of waiting in the wings. Seawell has also added a transfer in Dominic Clemons, the 2022 NJCAA individual national champion. Two of the 2024 recruits should be expected to slot into lineup spots, with high contribution expectations. Pennsylvania’s Nick Gross has long been one of the top players in his class, and he brings an extensive resume to Tuscaloosa.

Photos: @nickgrossgolf X, AJGA

In 2023, he snagged the title at the Simplify Boys Invitational and was a semi-finalist at the AJGA Polo Junior Classic. Nick made match play for the second consecutive year at the 2023 US Amateur and was a member of the US Junior Ryder Cup team. Other than a good showing at US Open sectional qualifying, early 2024 has been relatively quiet for Gross, and he will look to return to the dominant success he had in 2022, which included top-10s in two AJGA Invitationals and the Junior PGA Championship. Joining him is South Carolina native William Jennings, who has had a steady presence in the top-10 in all class rankings for the past two years, with 2nd-place finishes at the 2023 & 2022 Bobby Chapman Invitational a highlight. He has collected top-5 finishes at the 2022 & 2023 AJGA Wyndham Invitationals and the 2023 Team Taylormade Invitational, with solid showings in 2024 at the Simplify and the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley. Jennings is a steady, strong competitor and will complement Gross as they challenge the sophomore class for early lineups spots. The third member of this class is home-state player Michael Crocker, a multi-sport athlete who won the 2023 Alabama State Junior Championship. Crocker has solid potential and looks to make progress in his game in college, where he can focus solely on one sport.

Stanford University: The Stanford Cardinal welcomes the number two recruiting class to the Farm in the fall, following the loss of four graduates who were a major presence in their starting five, including the newest PGA Tour member, Michael Thorbjornsen. They return five players with considerable lineup experience and gain the 2023 Ivy League player of the year in grad transfer Brian Ma. Competition for the starting five should be fierce, as Stanford is bringing in Californian and top-3 US recruit Jay Leng and the top international recruit in this class, Ratchanon (TK) Chantananuwat of Thailand. Leng’s solid play in 2023 included a win at the AJGA Polo Junior Classic and top-5 finishes at the AJGA Wyndham, Ping, and Mayakoba Invitationals and the Junior PGA Championship. He has been a consistent competitor for years and will challenge for a lineup spot immediately, with top-10 finishes in 2024 at the AJGA Team Taylormade Invitational and the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley.

Chantananuwat has won on the Asian Tour already, and his accomplishments include 3rd at the Amateur Championship and reaching match play at the 2023 US Junior Amateur. He qualified for the 2022 & 2023 US Amateurs, finished 2nd at the 2022 R&A Junior Open, and 3rd at the 2022 Singapore International Open. Similar to Leng, he should be in the mix for the starting five immediately, as both look to replace some of the low scores lost to graduation. The third member of this class is another Californian, Logan Kim. Kim has excelled at the IMG Junior World Championships, with top-8 finishes in the last two years. His highest recent finish is 3rd at the Pasadena City Championship and may be on the outside looking in to the starting five this year.

Photos: Golf Digest, @jaylengjr instagram

University of North Carolina: The Tarheels have some big shoes to fill, given the task of replacing three of their starting five (Austin Greaser, Peter Fountain, and Dylan Menante) from the team that ended their season ranked third in the country. They are looking for three players to complement the Ford brothers in the lineup this fall and return three additional players with limited collegiate tournament experience. The third ranked 2024 recruiting class consists of a mixed bag of players, and those three spots could be a toss-up between the four newcomers and returning players, of which sophomore Hampton Roberts seems to be the next in line.

Photo: Nick Stevens

North Carolina native Ethan Paschal is a player we ranked in our top-10 US list and proved his worth by winning the 2024 Dustin Johnson World Junior, after finishing in 3rd in 2023. His results were mixed in 2023, with a hot start at the DJ and 6th at the Team Taylormade Invitational. After an average summer, Paschal made match play at the US Junior Amateur, and has two top-20 finishes in high profile events in 2024. Sihan Sandhu is an interesting prospect, as he dominated the junior circuit in 2021 before falling off the radar in 2022. He has focused solely on amateur events, and in 2023 grabbed a 2nd place finish at the Palmetto Amateur and 4th at the Eastern Amateur. He followed a 5th place finish at the Dixie Amateur by some middle of the pack results in 2024 but is one that we feel has the best shot at cracking the UNC lineup. Illinois’ Grant Roscich’s potential is a bit unknown, as he has not competed as much as his future teammates. His best results have come at the Illinois Junior Amateur, winning the tournament in both 2022 & 2023. Roscich’s best finish in a mid-major event is 13th at the 2023 North & South Junior and he will benefit from surrounding himself with the returning talent at UNC. The final recruit, Mykhailo Golod, came to the US in 2022 from Ukraine with a lot of fanfare, and was successful at the end of that year. He won the Sunshine State Amateur and the Notah Begay National Championship in the same month, in addition to a runner-up finish at the Doral Junior Classic. He didn’t produce similar results in 2023 and early 2024, but once again found success at the Notah Begay with a 2nd place finish and finished 5th at the Junior Orange Bowl. Golod has proven he has the talent and hopes to find consistency to make him a lineup threat at UNC.

Auburn University: The Tigers won the national championship with a roster filled with talent from top to bottom, and graduated JM Butler from their final lineup, along with their post-season sixth man, Alex Vogelsong. While they lose some top talent, they have four talented returners who could have easily played in that championship lineup. We read somewhere that ‘there is depth, and then there is Auburn depth.’ While Auburn isn’t in dire need of replenishing talent, they welcome the golfer we ranked #1 in the incoming recruiting class, Billy Davis of California.

In 2022, Davis hung around the top-25 of his class, then burst onto the scene in 2023. He inked the following top-3 finishes on his resume: 2nd at the 2022 Jones Cup Junior Invitational, a win at the AJGA Mayakoba Invitational, 3rd at the Toyota Junior World Cup, semi-finalist at the US Junior Amateur, and 2nd at the Junior PGA Championship. Davis represented the US at the Junior Ryder Cup in 2023 and started 2024 with top-5 finishes at the Simplify Boys Championship and the Terra Cotta Invitational. Just like this season’s rising sophomores, Davis could find himself in the final lineup next year, but it really is difficult to make predictions with this group of talent. In addition to Davis, the Tigers welcome Arizona’s Tyler Spielman, a player who has finished 5th at the Arizona Amateur and recently was runner-up at the AJGA Thunderbird Heather Farr Classic. Spielman found himself in the middle of leaderboards in most of 2023 but shows promise in his game and will thrive in the competitive Auburn environment.

Photos: @auburnmgolf instagram,

amateurgolf.com

Texas A&M University: The Aggies, with a final spring ranking of 20th, have only lost one player to graduation in Daniel Rodrigues. Rodrigues was a mainstay in the Aggies’ lineup and excelled at the end of this season, but there are two talented rising sophomores ready to fight for a lineup spot. Head coach Brian Kortan will be happy to welcome Arizona freshman Wheaton Ennis to College Station in the fall, as he steadily rose up the rankings from 2022-2023 into our top-10.

Photos: Texas A&M, AJGA

Ennis recorded three AJGA titles in 2023, including the 2023 Ping Invitational in commanding fashion. The 2021 & 2022 Idaho Junior Amateur champion also found the top-5 in 2023 in the Junior PGA Championship and the W.E. Cotton States Amateur and owns several JGAA event titles. He also notched top-10 finishes at the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley and the Terra Cotta Amateur to begin 2024. Expect Ennis to contend for a lineup spot with the rising sophomores and see him compete in a handful of tournaments. The second recruit in this class in Florida’s Alex Long, originally from Canada. Long had a very strong start to the 2023 season, taking titles at two AJGA events: the Panama Junior and the Sergio and Angela Garcia Foundation Junior Championship, but hasn’t found the same success since then. Though his game cooled a bit in the summer, he made his 2nd straight appearance in the US Junior Amateur Championship and finished a respectable 12th at the recent AJGA Ping Invitational. He may be on the outside looking in during his freshman season, but has shown solid potential to continue improving his game in college.

Arizona State University finished the year ranked 4th but ended their promising season after bowing out at Regionals. The Sun Devils had endless talent and high expectations with a talented squad. For the upcoming season, they lost lineup stalwart Ryggs Johnson to graduation, and two other contributors who did not make the post season lineups, including highly regarded Luke Potter to the Texas Longhorns. This team has several returning players waiting in the wings and hungry to make lineups, as they had a heralded freshman class last year. Their post season lineup was stacked but struggled to make it to La Costa, so Coach Thurmond’s team will be having some competitive qualifiers in the fall. He brings in two newcomers, Arizona’s Boston Bracken and German Peer Wernicke.

Photos: Fairways Photo Journal,

golf.de

Bracken, a top-10 US recruit, has the ability to produce top finishes and go low in big events, but shows some inconsistency. In 2022, he registered 2nd place at the IMG Junior World Championship and 9th at the AJGA Jack Burke Invitational. Although his 2023 results were up and down, Bracken placed 3rd at the AJGA Simplify Boys Championship, 7th at the Wyndham Invitational, and 10th at the Junior PGA Championship. He also reached the round of 32 at the US Junior Amateur and qualified for the 2023 US Amateur. 2024 has brought him a dominating local win at the UJGA Jay Don Blake Jr and a top-10 finish a the AJGA Boys Simplify. Wernicke, one of the top-10 international recruits, was a member of the winning 2023 European Junior Ryder Cup team. Among his 2022 accomplishments are champion of the German International Amateur and 7th at the German National Boys Championship. In 2023, Wernicke carded top-3 finishes at the German Boys Open and the Spanish Amateur Copa S M El Rey. He challenges himself in various Amateur events and has represented his country in numerous team events. Both freshmen should contend for lineup spots with the rising sophomores, but like Auburn, the Sun Devil lineup will be a tough one to crack and it’s anyone’s game.

Vanderbilt University ended the season ranked 2nd but ended the NCAA championship on a low note for their standards, falling in the first round of match play. They lose three contributors of their starting five in William Moll, Matthew Reidel, and Cole Sherwood, all who finished the season ranked in the top-10 of PGA Tour University. In what could be a rebuilding year, Vanderbilt has at least two open lineup spots up for grabs. One of the three open spots will be filled by their consistent 6th man, and the others could go to anyone on the team, depending who goes low in qualifying. This year coach Scott Limbaugh has recruited Massachusetts’ Ryan Downes, a top-10 recruit, and Texan Bowen Ballis.

Downes rose up the rankings in 2023 with a win at the AJGA Justin Thomas Junior Championship, 8th at the Jack Burke Junior Invitational, 9th at the Jones Cup Junior Invitational, and medalist honors in stroke play at the Massachusetts Junior Amateur. Most impressive is his Amateur tournament resume, with a win at the 2023 Massachusetts Amateur Championship, following a runner-up finish in 2022. He won the Ouimet Memorial Tournament in 2023 & 2022, and made the cut at the Northeast Amateur in 2023. Downes has started off slow in 2024, but had a strong showing in US Open sectional qualifying and qualified for the US Junior Amateur. Ballis was a consistent competitor in big events in 2023, with a 6th at the AJGA Jack Burke Junior Invitational, 7th at the North & South Junior Amateur, 8th at the Dye Junior Invitational, and 12th at the Jones Cup Junior. He went back-to-back at the 2021 & 2022 AJGA Bass Pro Shops Payne Stewart Junior Championship, and finished 14th at the AJGA Ping Invitational. Ballis broke through with a win at the 2024 AJGA Boys Simplify in February, but has mixed results since then, also making the US Junior. Both of these recruits should have a good shot at making lineups, as the playing field with returning players seems level.

Photos: New England

Golf Journal, Amateurgolf.com

University of Oklahoma: Coach Ryan Hybl loses two players from his NCAA Championship starting lineup that just missed match play by one stroke, and an additional part-time contributor to the lineup. Several returnees have college tournament experience and will be itching to increase their lineup presence. Hybl enters the fall season by restocking the team with four new freshmen that are hungry to compete with the returning players. The top Sooner recruit, Asher Whitaker of Kansas, was just on the outside of our top-10 American rankings in this class. He is the 2022 Kansas Amateur champion and recently took home the winner’s trophy at the Kansas Junior Amateur. After two AJGA runner-up Open finishes and a 5th place at the Rolex Tournament of Champions in 2022, Whitaker cooled down at the beginning of 2023.

Photos: Oklahoma Sooners

Last summer he stormed back to record top-10 finishes at AJGA Junior Players Championship, the Junior PGA Championship, the North & South Junior Amateur, and the Kansas Amateur. He has produced mixed results in 2024 but recorded a top-10 finish at the Dye Invitational. California’s Clark Van Gaalen is another solid recruit that has always had a presence in the top-30 in his class on JGS. He has dominated on the California JGANC and JTNC circuit for years, with numerous wins. He notched wins at the 2023 AJGA Brandon Wu Championship and 2024 AJGA Mizuno West Championship, and 3rd at the 2023 AJGA Se Ri Pak Desert Junior. Van Gaalen has not proven himself in higher profile events yet but has put up many low scores in local California events, so his potential is one to keep an eye on. We believe that he and Whitaker will be vying for a lineup spot this year. The Sooners had a late signee in home-state Cameron Cheek in December. He credits three OJGT wins in 2023 to his resume, along with one SC PGA win in 2023. Cheek started off 2023 with another OJGT win and finished 7th at the Oklahoma Junior Boys Championship. He will be a nice addition to the squad and has carded numerous rounds in the 60s since September of 2023. The final member of the incoming freshman class is an early commit, Minnesota’s Andrew Ramos. Ramos had success in early 2022 with a 4th at the AJGA Sergio and Angela Garcia Foundation Junior Championship and 6th at the AJGA Team Taylormade Invitational. In 2023, he qualified for both the US Junior Amateur and the Junior PGA Championship but has since had inconsistent competitive results. He hasn’t recorded any junior tournament results in 2024, so his potential contribution is unknown.

The University of Arkansas Razorbacks are another team that lurked around the top 10 in the team rankings during the season, but failed to make it out of the NCAA Regionals, ending the season in 13th. They lost three players to graduation, including Jacob Skov Oleson, their leading scorer at the Austin Regional, and John Driscoll, who was a lineup mainstay all season. Coach Brad McMakin looks to replenish their lineup spots with solid competition between capable returners and a solid freshman class.

Photos: Arkansas Razorbacks,

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Leading the way should be Mexico’s Gerardo Gomez, who has not shortage of top finishes in major competitions in the past two years. He has always hung around the top ten in the 2024 class rankings on JGS and Golfweek, was an early commit, and is one of our top international recruits. In 2023 he won the Junior America's Cup, ended up 2nd at the AJGA Rolex Tournament of Champions, and finished 7th at the AJGA Ping Invitational, also making the round of 32 at the 2023 US Junior Amateur. In 2022, Gomez's best finishes were 2nd at the AJGA Ping Invitational and 3rd at the AJGA Arnold Palmer Invitational, as well as several wins in his home country. In 2024 he has carded top-6 finishes at the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley and the Terra Cotta Invitational. Expect to see him posting scores for Arkansas this year. Complementing Gomez is Paraguay's Erich Fortlage Arce, owning one of the top WAGR rankings in this class. Arce qualified for the 2023 US Junior Amateur and finished 11th at the 2023 AJGA Mayakoba Invitational. He plays mainly international competitions, notching several amateur, junior, and professional wins in his native country. His potential against college competition remains to be seen. Adding to the international flavor in Fayetteville is Spainiard Pablo Garcia Terol. He won both the 2022 PGA Catalunya Stadium Cup and the 2023 Campeonato de Catalunya U18 tournament and finished 2nd at the 2023 Mediterranean Golf Championship. Garcia Terol plays most of his events in Spain with a mix of results; therefore, he is another unknown talent who may or may not appear in a lineup this year. Rounding out this class is is local Arkansas native Jackson McLaughlin, who carded top-3 finishes in 2023 in the Arkansas Junior Amateur Championship and the ASGA Bruce Jenkins Memorial Junior Championship. Currently averaging in the mid-70s in competition, he will benefit from solid competition in qualifiers to improve his game.

Harvard University: The team with the 10th ranked recruiting may come as a surprise, as Harvard is typically a team that ranks in the 100s in the national rankings and finished the 23-24 season at #200. Top Ivy League player Brian Ma will be finishing his collegiate career at Stanford and led the team in the previous two seasons. Also graduating were two seniors who were lineup fixtures throughout the season. The Crimson will happily welcome two top-25 recruits who should slot into the lineup easily in the fall.

Photos: AJGA

Harvard landed California's William Ma and Florida's Barry Zhang in this recruiting class. Ma has been a steady competitor on the junior circuit over the past few seasons, with two AJGA Open event wins and a 4th place finish at the 2023 AJGA Jack Burke Junior Invitational. Ma's resume highlights also include two AJGA Open top-3 finishes and a runner-up finish at both the 2023 & 2024 Sonoran Amateurs. He has struggled in invitationals since September but broke through with a 5th place finish at the 2024 AJGA Wyndham Invitational. Zhang, originally from China, won the 2023 AJGA Junior at Chicopee and had a solid 2nd place finish at the 2023 Scott Robertson Memorial. Most notable is his 5th place showings at two AJGA Invitationals in 2023: the Rolex Tournament of Champions and the Polo Junior Classic. Zhang had a steady finish of 16th at the Orlando International Amateur to end 2023.