The field has been whittled down to 16 in the NCAA Men’s DI Tournament, and the eight third round contests will trim that field down even more.
Below is a look at some of the pro prospects to keep an eye on during this weekend’s games.
M Adam Najem, Akron (Junior)
Most of the pro chatter for the Zips swirls around sophomore Richie Laryea, who has enjoyed an excellent season in the attacking third. Najem has been just as good, as the attacking midfielder who pulls the strings in the offense. The Red Bulls Academy product is one goal shy of reaching double digit season totals in goals and assists, and will be key to the Zips’ hopes of progressing at home against SMU.
M Tsubasa Endoh, Maryland
Endoh is an intriguing prospect when it comes to examining his MLS chances. The Japanese attacking midfielder has made impressive strides since his arrival to College Park, and while his senior season hasn’t featured as much in terms of statistical production, he’s a good enough player for the next level for teams willing to emphasizing ball control and possession. Maryland’s trip to Notre Dame is a big test, as the 2013 title rematch pits Endoh up against a physical midfield.
M Paul Clowes, Clemson
The majority of the pro focus on the Tigers swirls around Kyle Fisher and TJ Casner. Clowes, a two-way central midfielder from England, has the dreaded international tag to overcome as he prepares for next year’s draft. The longer the Tigers play, the more chances Clowes has to prove to scouts that he can do the job, especially with the next matchup against UC Santa Barbara.
D Jonathan Campbell, North Carolina
This year’s draft class may lack a true obvious center back prospect, though Campbell’s performances and experiences over the past four years have him near the top. Add in the fact that he’s four-year starter at CB, and there’s every chance to believe he can be a first round pick for teams looking to add back line depth. Campbell’s big test at home this weekend features the arrival of Fabian Herbers and Creighton. If he can slow the German star and the rest of the Bluejays, his stock will continue to shoot up.
M John Lujano, SMU
Winning the midfield battle on the road against Akron won’t be easy for the Mustangs, one of the nation’s most underrated teams – and one that can fairly argue it was snubbed for a seed. Lujano, who earned American Athletic Midfielder of the Year honors, has been a picture of consistency during his four years at SMU. The 5-foot-6 midfielder would boost his stock if he can hold his own against Najem, Richie Laryea and Victor Souto.
M Ty Thompson, Stanford
The Cardinal boasts a pair of top pro prospects with Jordan Morris and Brandon Vincent, the names that most observers will know. Thompson, a tough and tenacious central midfielder, has provided a consistent presence for Stanford the last four years and was named to the Pac-12 First Team this year. Going up against another MLS Draft hopeful in Kyle Culbertson will provide Thompson a chance to battle it out against higher level opposition and fight to keep Stanford’s season alive.
F Brandon Allen, Georgetown
Last weekend, Allen became the leading scorer in Georgetown program history, scoring the 50th goal of his four-year career on the Hilltop. Allen, who has showcased his ability to not just score, but create opportunities for others this season, is a Red Bulls Academy product and a key figure in Georgetown’s hopes for a return to the College Cup.
D Eric DeJulio, Creighton
Since taking over a starting role as a center back for Creighton as a junior, DeJulio has demonstrated plenty of consistency and dependability. Charged this weekend with slowing down UNC’s offense, the Sporting Kansas City Academy alumnus could be making a case for a Homegrown deal as he looks to lead the Bluejays to the College Cup in front of his hometown crowd.