Here is the first installation of my top 25 seniors. It's a very preliminary list that represents my opinion of players' values as they pertain to the pro level -- values for Major League Lacrosse franchises in the May collegiate draft and beyond as rookie professionals.
The Class of 2009 is deep; there are players on the "on the radar" list who could be All-Americans. This senior group is strong in the midfield and attack areas but weak on defense and facing off.
Quint's preseason top 25 prospects
1. Matt Abbott | Midfield | Syracuse
Hometown: Nottingham, N.Y.
2008 stats: 13 goals, 8 assists, 73 ground balls
Abbott is the nation's best overall lacrosse player; let's call him Mr. Versatility. He's heady and understands the game's nuances. There's nothing he can't do. He ran circles around opponents on Memorial Day weekend last year, and even though he scored only 13 goals in the spring, I think he's the most valuable player in the nation.
2. Max Seibald | Midfield | Cornell
Hometown: Hewlett, N.Y.
2008 stats: 27 goals, 6 assists
Seibald is the ideal midfielder for MLL: He's fast with a terrific burst, tough and athletic, and he can create and finish his shot. He has field presence and all the intangibles you look for in a top draft pick, and he's reminiscent of Roy Colsey.
3. Jordan Burke | Goalie | Brown
Hometown: Potomac, Md.
2008 stats: 6.43 goals-against average, 0.68 save percentage
Burke has smooth balance and anticipates well without guessing. He's a game-changer; the lefty from Bullis in Washington, D.C., can start right away in the professional ranks.
4. Ben Hunt | Midfield | North Carolina
Hometown: Severna Park, Md.
2008 stats: 21 goals, 9 assists
At 6-foot-5, Hunt is a downhill dodger who has exceptional top-end speed. He has an arsenal of moves from up top and appears ready for a breakout senior season. Reminds me of former Tar Heels Jeff Sonke and Jed Prossner.
5. Ned Crotty* | Midfield/Attack | Duke
Hometown: New Vernon, N.J.
2008 stats: 18 goals, 19 assists
Duke's lefty midfielder has terrific footwork and may see extended minutes at attack this spring. His 19 assists last season proved he's more than just a midrange shooter.
*Can appeal to the NCAA for a fifth year of eligibility
6. Danny Glading | Attack | Virginia
Hometown: Bethesda, Md.
2008 stats: 30 goals, 35 assists
Glading has prototypical size and mechanics, and he tallied 65 points as a junior. He reminds me of a young Conor Gill.
7. Brandon Corp | Attack | Colgate
Hometown: Chittenango, N.Y.
2008 stats: 41 goals, 15 assists
Corp has a compact frame and elite acceleration. He can turn the corner to feed or shoot. He's a Mark Millon clone who will draw double-teams all season.
8. Dan Hardy | Midfield | Syracuse
Hometown: Tully, N.Y.
2008 stats: 25 goals, 15 assists
At times, Hardy looks like a man among boys. His size, power and midrange accuracy will make him a matchup nightmare for MLL defenses.
9. John Glynn | Midfield | Cornell
Hometown: Lindenhurst, N.Y.
2008 stats: 18 goals, 26 assists, 82 ground balls
Glynn dominated the Vail Tournament in the summer against older, more experienced midfielders. He's a workhorse who has great body control when attacking the goal.
10. Zack Greer | Attack | Bryant
Hometown: Whitby, Ontario
2008 stats: 65 goals, 30 assists
Greer is the college game's best left-handed finisher. He makes tough catches in traffic and can trigger a release anytime, anywhere. A season with Bryant will sharpen his ball-carrying skills but also could show his goals were a product of Duke's success.
11. Joel Dalgarno | Attack | Ohio State
Hometown: Port Coquitlam, British Columbia
2008 stats: 40 goals, 35 assists
Like Kevin Leveille, Dalgarno is fearless around the crease. I expect his goal total to drop a bit this season, but he's too fine a finisher to pass up.
12. Drew Adams | Goalie | Penn State
Hometown: Springfield, Pa.
2008 stats: 7.67 goals-against average, 0.61 save percentage
Adams has the ideal tall, lean frame that MLL teams desire. He has played for a team that has struggled, so his 0.61 save percentage doesn't tell the full story.
13. Brad Ross | Midfield | Duke
Hometown: Darnestown, Md.
2008 stats: 25 goals, 8 assists, 32 ground balls
Ross has eye-catching acceleration and a tireless motor. He can play the entire 110 yards and is rapidly becoming one of the NCAA's most dangerous dodgers.
14. Kenny Nims | Attack | Syracuse
Hometown: Watertown, N.Y.
2008 stats: 34 goals, 24 assists
Skillful, smart, opportunistic and fast, Nims will be an excellent No. 2 attackman in MLL. He excels creatively in transition and with the extra man.
15. Michael Evans | Defense | Johns Hopkins
Hometown: Davidsonville, Md.
2008 stats: 8 ground balls
Evans is the nation's best lockdown defender who'll pound and punish the ballcarrier into submission with his crosscheck hold. He has the strength, footwork and toughness to cover the world's best.
16. Shane Walterhoefer | F/O Midfielder | North Carolina
Hometown: Ellicott City, Md.
2008 stats: 68 percent faceoffs, 64 ground balls
The Tar Heels' faceoff midfielder has the quintessential compact build with good bulk, particularly through his hips and lower body. He won 68 percent of his draws last season. When he's healthy and in shape, nobody comes close.
17. Mark Kovler | Midfield | Princeton
Hometown: Washington, D.C.
2008 stats: 16 goals, 2 assists
The lefty slasher had a highly productive 16 goals in a junior season cut short by injury. I don't see him being stopped by an MLL short stick.
18. P.T. Ricci | Defensive Midfield | Loyola
Hometown: Conestoga, Pa.
2008 stats: 84 ground balls, 41 caused turnovers
Ricci has great lateral quickness, mirroring dodgers without allowing separation. He's a magnet for loose balls. He jumps off the film week after week, making plays all over the field, and is an emotional catalyst for the Greyhounds.
19. Anthony Muscarella | Midfield | Hofstra
Hometown: Wantagh, N.Y.
2008 stats: 28 goals, 14 assists
Muscarella is explosive and fluid. I expect good things in '09 out of both Hofstra and the senior midfielder after a 28-goal junior campaign.
20. Ryan Hoff | Attack | Notre Dame
Hometown: Baldwin, Md.
2008 stats: 41 goals, 4 assists
Hoff has scored 81 goals in the past two seasons. He has astute diagnostic skills and a knack for finding the soft spot in the defense. Mentally, he's always a pass or two ahead of defensive slides. His shooting percentage is too good to ignore -- Hoff's a right-handed Scott Urick.
21. Jeff Reynolds | Midfield | Maryland
Hometown: Bel Air, Md.
2008 stats: 19 goals, 36 ground balls
Reynolds is a jackrabbit who has great speed and the ability to score in transition.
22. Shane Koppens | Attack | Loyola
Hometown: Shenendehowa, N.Y.
2008 stats: 19 goals, 24 assists
Koppens has excellent vision and balance, and he attacks with decisiveness around the goal. He's crafty, experienced and productive.
23. Jim Connolly | Attack | UMass
Hometown: North Andover, Mass.
2008 stats: DNP -- Suspended (29 goals, 8 assists in 2007)
Connolly is an unknown quantity right now; he had a monster sophomore season but was suspended in 2008.
24. Mike Timms | Defensive Midfield | Virginia
Hometown: Cape Henry, Va.
2008 stats: 48 ground balls
Timms is a rare lacrosse athlete at 6-foot-6 -- he uses his endless reach and longstick to jam, harass and slow dodgers, effectively creating a huge cushion. If he does get beat, he relies on a killer trail check. Timms benefits from the new MLL rule that allows four longpoles.
25. Corey Small | Attack | Albany
Hometown: St. Catharines, Ontario
2008 stats: 34 goals, 11 assists
Albany's undersized sharpshooter has roots in the indoor game. He's sneaky around the crease and understands the pick-and-roll game. Small's shot packs a punch from the wing. He'd be an ideal fit in Rochester.
On the radar
Garrett Billings, Virginia (36 G, 25 A)
Bart Wagner, North Carolina (18 G, 16 A)
Tommy Davis, Princeton (23 G, 16 A)
Tom Dooley, Hofstra (26 G, 4 A)
Jeff Ryan, Ohio State (25 G, 13 A)
Craig Andrzejewski, Penn (23 G, 17 A)
Ryan Smith, UMBC (29 G, 14 A)
Cliff Smith, Denver (25 G, 13 A)
Duncan Swezey, Notre Dame (22 G, 17 A)
Pat Perritt, Syracuse (11 G, 2 A)
Andrew Miller, Johns Hopkins (Shortstick defensive middie -- 2 G, 2 A, 26 GB)
Dan Groot, Maryland (12 G, 10 A)
Jeremy Sieverts, Maryland (9 G, 10 A)
Chris Taylor, Georgetown (Shortstick defensive middie -- 25 GB)
Sam Payton, Duke (F/O -- 59 percent, 82 GB)
Kylor Berkman, Salisbury (34 G, 49 A)
Steve Schoeffel, Duke (20 G, 4A)
Griffin Nevitt, Air Force (18 G, 6 A)
Peter Christman, Notre Dame (14 G, 20 A)
Joe Murray, Denver (14 G, 13 A)
Sid Smith, Syracuse (37 GB)
Matt Kelly, Virginia (48 GB)
Matt Moyer, Cornell (35 GB)
Chris Peyser, Princeton (15 GB)
Charlie Kolkin, Princeton (Longstick middie -- 27 GB)
Chris Schongar, Albany (Longstick middie -- 46 GB)
Scott Matthews, Ohio State (31 GB)
Chris O'Dougherty, Rutgers (30 GB)
Billy Haire, Bucknell (47 GB)
Dan McKeon, Albany (6.32 GAA, 0.68 SVS)
Doc Schneider, UMass (8.42 GAA, 0.60 SVS)
Grant Zimmerman, North Carolina (9.42 GAA, 0.58 SVS)
Quint Kessenich covers college and professional lacrosse for ESPN. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.