The Skyd Five
The Skyd Five are the top five contenders for the Callahan award as decided by the Skyd Awards Committee. They’re here because they’ve been identified to be excellent candidates for the honor bestowed by this award due to exemplary performances on the ultimate field and high character off of it. Through the entire 2014 College Tour, Skyd follow these players closely. As the season progresses, this list may change. New circumstances may mean that new players enter and leave the Skyd Five.
Please note that the Skyd Five represent the opinions of the award committee only, and will be facilitated to provide voters with more information about top candidates. Callahan voters are free to cast their vote for any eligible candidate, including those not featured in the Skyd Five.
In alphabetical order by last name:
We can’t mention Dillon’s name without invoking the age-old debate about team results and Callahan voting. Pittsburgh has two consecutive championships under their belt, but an En Sabah Nur player has yet to win a Callahan. Can all-around star Trent Dillon be the first? While early season results shed doubt on Pittsburgh’s ability to three-peat, doubting Dillon may prove to be the wrong move. Dillon is passionate about ultimate and has spent years dedicated to improving as a player, and this year, it’s shining through more than ever. After the graduation of a strong senior class, he’s been seen lining up on both sides of the disc and working as the primary cog of the Pittsburgh offense. Even when the offense struggles, Dillon is consistent as ever; they often look at him to move the disc, and on defense, he often matches up with the best the opposing team have to offer.
After a summer on the NexGen tour and a Club Championships where he was voted Doublewide’s Most Valuable Player, Driscoll is ready for the spring season. However, with challenges from Jimmy Mickle’s Mamabird and Dalton Smith-led Texas A&M, Driscoll will have his work cut out for him in his attempt to lead TUFF to a fourth consecutive College Championships appearance. After a tough Stanford Invite, Texas is looking at Centex to rebound. As a player, Driscoll uses his height (6’3”) effectively to dominate the deep game, but also uses his agility to shut down matchups completely on defense. Like counterpart Christian Johnson of UNC, Texas is talented enough that they don’t solely rely on Driscoll to make all of the big plays. Instead, it is his leadership that shines through, bringing his NexGen and club experience to foster the next generation of TUFF players.
As one of the leaders of the #1 team in the Skyd Power Rankings, Johnson will look to avenge UNC Darkside’s quarterfinals loss at the college championships last year. Johnson sets himself apart from other candidates with his speed: his incredible velocity makes him dangerous in any position on the field. He generally cuts for Darkside, but frequently drops back into the handler position, where he’s able to display his full arsenal of throws. And that’s not to mention his defense — he constantly makes athletic plays in the air and has a fantastic mark. Interestingly enough, despite all these characteristics, he isn’t asked to be UNC’s star. Instead, he’s a team player that is often more noticeable from the sideline than on the field. However, there’s no doubt that the influence of Christian Johnson is one of the biggest reasons for Darkside’s domination so far this season.
Eli Kerns has been a quiet star on an under-the-radar UC Davis team. He turned a lot of eyes last spring when he led the Dogs to a surprise pre-quarters victory over the hometown Wisconsin Hodags, and put up more strong numbers in the following game against Oregon. Outside of college, he’s been a standout in the mixed division: as the points leader on the gold medal winning U-23 Mixed team and a key instrument in two straight Club Championships finals appearances for the Polar Bears. His on-field play is highlighted by a effective mark, fearless handles (especially in the wind), and some of the best breakmark throws in college ultimate. This year, Kerns will face a challenge in leading a rookie-heavy Davis squad back to Nationals for the third time in club history, but regardless of the team’s performance, it’s clear that he’s one of the best individual players in the country.
He’s been everywhere: three NexGen tour appearances, a world championship with the U-23 Open team, five solid years on Colorado Mamabird, and some memorable club seasons with Johnny Bravo. His leadership skills are of no question, and neither is his ability to open up the field offensively and use his 6’3” frame to play shutdown defense. Mickle is not only a dominating player on the field, but a spirited, humble and charismatic personality off of it. After stumbling at Stanford Invite this past weekend, Mamabird’s ability to close out the spring season is the only question mark remaining for #MickleMania.
We will be closely following the progress of Bobby Ley (Florida), Chris Larocque (Florida State), and Brice Dixon (Arizona) over the coming months, and we can’t go without mentioning a host of talented players currently hampered by injuries: Elliott Erickson (Georgia), Josh Klane (Minnesota), and Colin Camp (Wisconsin), among others.