Commentary

ESPNHS Top 25 defenders

Updated: January 20, 2012, 9:59 AM ET
By Tom Peace

Ryan Palasek, Rocky Point, Warrior 40Kirstin Olsen/ESPNHSRyan Palasek from Rocky Point (Rocky Point, N.Y.) at the 2011 Warrior 40.
ESPN High School continues its look at the Top 25 Seniors On The Rise -- expanding on last year's Top 20 players by position.

The Top 25 is our selections for the best players at each position and will be released every Wednesday until Oct. 12. Wrapping up our boys coverage will be our choices for the Top 100 seniors and Top 50 juniors. Our girl's Top 25 begins in October.

Top 25 Defenders

ESPNHS Position Breakdown

ESPN High School expands its look at the top high school seniors in the country to a look at the Top 25 by position -- expanding upon last year's Top 20.

Below is our positioinal breakdown along with our selections for the Top 100 seniors and the Top 50 juniors.

Key: athlete, school (city, state), college commitment if known

1. Ryan Palasek, Rocky Point (Rocky Point, N.Y.), Syracuse
A Warrior 40 selection, Palasek was named to the All-Suffolk County team. Palasek is a great communicator on the field and is aggressive in pursuing the ball.

2. Bobby Duvnjak, Manhasset (Manhasset, N.Y.), Harvard
Duvnjak was named to the New York Newsday's All-Long-Island team. The Manhasset senior played for the Long Island Underclassmen team in the Under Armour games.

3. Eddie Morris, Malvern Prep (Malvern, Pa.), Johns Hopkins
Morris was named Defensive MVP from the Mid-Atlantic region tryouts for the Warrior 40. Morris is excellent on transitions.

4.Tanner Scales, Salisbury (Salisbury, Conn.), Virginia
Scales was named First Team All-American and New England Defender of the Year. Scales is a leader on the field and is very athletic. He sticks with his attackman and is quick to scoop up the groundballs.

5. Warner Bailey, Haverford School (Haverford, Pa.), Georgetown
Bailey played for the Philadelphia Underclassmen team at the Under Armour games. The Haverford defender played a key role in the Fords going 23-0 last season. Bailey is a strong, athletic kid and should have a great career at the next level.

6. Matt O'Keefe, Duxbury (Duxbury, Mass.), Johns Hopkins
O'Keefe is a coach's dream on defense. He is a leader, he is aggressive, and he clears the ball with precision. Being the Quarterback for the Duxbury football team gives O'Keefe the intangibles to be a great defender at the next level.

7. Chris Panichelli, Bishop Shanahan (Downingtown, Pa.), Drexel
Panichelli was named to the EPSLA All-Star team for the second year in a row and was named First team All-League this past spring. Panichelli looks to have a big senior year before heading to Drexel next fall.

8. Zach Powers, Upper Arlington (Upper Arlington, Ohio), North Carolina
Powers may be arguably the best defenseman in the midwest and he has the hardware to prove it. Powers was named 2011 Ohio Defensive Player of the Year, First-Team All Midwest, First Team Central Ohio Region, First Team All-Conference, and Team Defensive Player of Year. The future Tarheel represented the midwest on the underclass team at the Under Armour games.

9. Evan Connell, Calvert Hall (Baltimore, Md.), North Carolina
Connell makes defense look easy. The Calvert Hall senior plays with high energy and great stick skills. Connell was named First team All-State, All-Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association and All-Metro First team. For second year in a row, Connell played for the Baltimore Underclass team at the Under Armour games.

10. Ryan Lehman, Garnet Valley (Glenn Mills, Pa.), Maryland
Lehman was named to the All-EPSLA team for defenders, one of four juniors to make the list this past spring. Plus Lehman made the Philadelphia Underclass team at the Under Armour games.

The Next Fifteen

11. Connor Bailey, Haverford School (Haverford, Pa.), Georgetown
12. Tony Britton, Darien (Darien, Conn.), Cornell
13. Walker Kirby, Lawrenceville (Lawrenceville, N.J.), Duke
14. Bob Fahey, Bishop Guertin (Nashua, N.H.), undecided
15. Matt Dunn, Loyola Blakefield (Baltimore, Md.), Maryland
16. James Ikeda, Conestoga (Berwyn, Pa.), Duke
17. A.J. Carfora, Salisbury School (Salisbury, Conn.), Penn State
18. Ryan Guittare, Garnet Valley (Glenn Mills, Pa.), Penn State
19. Joey Pfister, Walkersville (Walkersville, Md.), Jacksonville
20. Robby Haus, Gilman (Baltimore, Md.), Ohio State
21. Ryder Clark, Cherry Creek (Greenwood Village, Colo.), undecided
22. Graham Conlan, Hill School (Pottstown, Pa.), Michigan
23. Chris Coady, Buckingham Browne & Nichols School (Cambridge, Mass.), Duke
24. Mike Howard, Collegiate School (Richmond, Va.), Virginia
25. Justin Verratti, Salesianum (Wilmington, Del.), Loyola