The young talent coming onto college campuses continues to keep getting better, with overseas imports making immediate impacts and more and more American-bred players entering the college ranks with years of valuable high school experience.This list is a good mix of both.
Most of the forwards are homegrown players, with several having been High School or Junior All Americans. One, Sebastian Kalm, comes from outside the borders. Kalm is a two-time selection for the Chilean U20s. He and Tama Paogofie-Buyten, a Junior All American, were away on National Team duties during Lindenwood's run through the DI-AA playoffs.
Alek Mares did his best Ryan Hargraves impression this season when the Davenport All American was struggling through an ankle injury. Mares, whose twin brother is also at Davenport, will be one to watch out for.
The backs have a little more foreign flare, as BYU halfbacks Luke Mocke and Jonny Linehan couldn't be left off the list. Linehan had maybe the biggest performance of anyone in a National Championship game this spring, booting the Cougars to a Varsity Cup Championship with a last-second dropgoal.
Russell Webb, from Hong Kong, was outstanding for Cal at flyhalf this season, but in order to fit him in the list, he had to move him out a spot. Mickey Bateman played flyhalf for Lindenwood this spring (he finished high school in New Zealand in the fall and moved Stateside to start his college rugby career immediately), but his primary position is scrumhalf. He was simply too good to leave off the list, so we slotted him in at fullback.
Shelby Williams has lightning speed and he burst onto the National stage at the 7s National Championships in the fall. He's usually a wing, but, again, we had to manipulate his position to include him. A foot race between Williams and Arkansas State's Gavin Brown would be something to behold. Brown, too, played well at 7s Nationals, but was maybe more important to the Red Wolves in 15s.
Seb Sharpe, an Englishmen, is a small but crafty, speedy winger. Look for him to score a few tries at the CRC this weekend.