Penn men’s soccer coach Rudy Fuller goes into the recruiting process knowing exactly what he’s looking for.
“When you’re talking about a place like Penn, academically and athletically," he said yesterday, "you’re looking for the best and brightest."
He appears to have found some of ‘the best and brightest’ in his Class of 2014 recruits, which were announced yesterday. But the process of zeroing in on a specific group of kids is a difficult one.
Logic says that you should aim to recruit the best players available, but that’s not the way it usually turns out because the available talent pool is shrunk by both sides of the recruiting process.
On the one hand, the most talented players are not necessarily flocking to Penn, especially without the allure of a scholarship. However, on the other hand, Fuller and his staff also shrink the talent pool because strong academics is one of the main, if not the most important, criteria.
“We obviously start with the academics,” Fuller said. “That really cancels out the overwhelming percentage of the young men out there.”
Once the brainiest crop of talent remains, then it comes down to skill and what Fuller called “the X factor.”
“It’s one thing for us to be interested in the student-athlete, but the key for us is that we want first-rate student-athletes who are passionate about Penn and our program,” Fuller explained.
With the field whittled down even more, several more factors come into play. Experience, leadership and maturity seem like good qualities to look for, but then there comes the more basic X’s-and-O’s criteria, such as positional needs.
“There are certainly some years where we do have to fill a need positionally and so we’ll really make a push to prioritize that position,” Fuller said. “Generally speaking, though, we’re always looking for the best student-athletes that we can find.”
With all this said, a major question remains: How well does the incoming class of 2014 meet some of Penn and Fuller’s criteria?
On paper, at least, the answer appears to be “very well.”
Of the seven incoming freshman to hit the pitch, two — Alex Reddy and goalkeeper Steven Hellstern — were named National Merit Finalists and AP scholars, and the group also boasts a National Merit Commended student in Austin Kinn.
As far as talent is concerned, each member of the group has experience in the Olympic Development Program and many have made noise nationally. Some who stand out include Nicky Yin, who was selected to the U16 U.S. National Team pool and Reddy, a 2010 finalist for Alabama’s Gatorade Player of the Year.
Stephen Baker, a five-time letter winner, is also an accomplished recruit and the forward should help provide a scoring punch to a Penn squad that was tied for fifth last year in the Ivy League in goals scored (22) — a full ten behind Princeton, Brown and Harvard.
“Stephen is one of the top forwards in the 2010 class and is [a] proven goalscorer,” the coach told Penn Athletics. “He can score in a variety of ways and is a constant threat in the attack ... He should make an immediate impact on our team this year.”
The rest of the class includes Jonny Dolezal, whose club team, Lower Merion Velez, advanced to the 2009 National Championship and Ethan Jones, an Oregon product who netted the game-winning goal in the state final.
“I think this is certainly one of our better classes,” Fuller said. “I think it’s a group that’s going to leave a lasting impression on the program going down the road.”
SP Sports Editor Brian Kotloff contributed to the reporting of this article.Comments powered by Disqus
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