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Best They Ever Saw? D1A Coaches Vote

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Best They Ever Saw? D1A Coaches Vote

Seamus Kelly in action for the USA against Samoa in 2015. David Barpal photo.

Goff Rugby Report asked D1A coaches their opinions on a number of subjects, and one of them was ... who was the best you've ever seen?

We asked the coaches who was the best college player they had seen in the past 20 years. Several names popped up, from recent Scholz Award candidates Connor Buckley and Cole Zarconeto recent Scholz winners Connor McNerney and Harley Wheeler.

Several Eagles, such as Cam Dolan (Life), Nick Civetta (Notre Dame), Kyle Sumsion (BYU), Salesi Sika (BYU), Nate Ebner (Ohio State), and Paul Emerick (Northern Iowa) also got nods.

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But five players were mentioned more than anyone else:

Bryce Campbell, Indiana. Capped while still an undergrad, Campbell was the 2017 Scholz Award winner. As one coach put it, "he looked ready to play professional rugby at college age."

Seamus Kelly, Cal. A starter for Cal as a freshman, Kelly was generally considered the best collegiate player in the country when he graduated, and he went on to play for the USA. "Best HS player I ever saw as well," said one coach. (Kelly played at Xavier). "Absolute beast on and off field."

Will Holder, Army. An Eagle before he stepped away from rugby to concentrate on his US Army career, Holder possessed "all around rugby IQ, vision, leadership, tenacity, passing & kicking skills with follow up to run both into space and into contact, and tackling intensity."

Said another: "He was the best collegiate flyhalf in the country when he was at Army. I think he missed a few opportunities to really be the placeholder for the 10 jersey for the Eagles. His tactical ability and kicking strength set him apart from other collegiate players."

Madison Hughes, Dartmouth. Smooth and shifty, was how one coach described him. Hughes was a CRC MVP as a freshman and is now, of course, the captain of the USA 7s team.

Shaun Davies, BYU. "He changed the dynamic that Cal was invincible," said one coach. While others praised his field awareness and rugby IQ. Davies just recently retired from his career as an Eagle. 


Who did they miss? Well we asked them, not ourselves, but Mike MacDonald was still in college 20 years ago, and was pretty good, and Thretton Palamo was everything for Utah when they were very strong. Josh Dean led Air Force to that famous upset of Cal in 2003. Mike Petri, Danny Barrett, Lou Stanfill, Shaun Paga, and Tony Petruzzella all deserve a mention. But we didn't ask us.