Recruiting Roundup: Deerfield Academy

It was a bit of an off year for Deerfield Academy in 2022.

The Big Green went 3-6 and found themselves in a lot of shootouts.

But there are plenty of reasons for optimism, as Barbato has established a winning culture. The Big Green won NEPSAC bowls in both 2019 and 2021 (there was no 2020 NEPSAC season due to Covid).

“The kids have bought in,” Barbato said over a phone interview late last week. “The expectations are different, and the school is supporting it. These kids are some of our best high flyers in the classroom. They’re setting a bar from a character and leadership expectations. It’s not just lip service. They’re showing up and they’re buying in.”

And the students who are showing up are quite talented. We spoke to Barbato about those players for this week’s Recruiting Roundup.

Leading the way out of the 2024 class is CJ Williams, an offensive tackle out of Amityville, NY. Williams is 6-foot-8, 350 pounds, and has offers from Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Boston College, Pittsburgh, and Virginia Tech.

“He hasn’t even scratched the surface (of his potential),” Barbato said. “It’s one year of really competitive football. All the guys that have seen him have offered him.”

Williams also plays basketball at Deerfield, runs a 5.12-second 40-yard dash, and has a 7-foot wingspan.

“There’s no limitations for athleticism or size,” Barbato said. “He’s our best basketball player. He’s a great football player.”

Another top player out of that 2024 class is wide receiver Triston Ward (6-1.5, 195 pounds). Last year, Ward had 16 touchdowns to go along with 1,600 yards receiving.

“I think people see him as an FBS slot who can just overpower people, who can end up playing outside if need be,” Barbato said.

Ward has offers from Virginia, Duke, Pitt, and BC. He ran a 10.53 100-meter dash, and has an extra gear.

Another 2024 includes linebacker Ethan Roosseien (6-2, 210), who is also a standout lacrosse player.

“I think he’s going to be an Ivy League kid,” Barbato said. “Projects as a Will linebacker.”

Strong safety Owen Haight (6-1, 190), Sam linebacker James Fealey (6-4, 210), offensive and defensive lineman Caleb Kirkpatrick (6-2, 260), and tight end/defensive end Max Hobbs (6-6, 225) are also names to watch in the 2024 class.

Barbato also has high hopes for post-grads Cole Bennett (OL/DL, 6-4.5, 270), Luke Reilly (OL/DL, 6-3, 285), Max Gainey (DE, 6-5, 210), Tommy Schwartz (OLB, 6-2, 220), and Malachi Costello (RB/S, 5-10, 185).

The top recruit in the 2025 class is quarterback Cole Geer (6-1, 190), who already holds offers from Yale, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Boston College.

There are plenty of top-shelf quarterbacks in New England, and Geer’s name deserves to be mentioned with any of them.

“He reminds me of Joe Burrow,” Barbato said of Geer. “He’s unflappable. Everything is in rhythm. When he needs to get out of the pocket, he’s more athletic than you give him credit for. How effortless it is for him blows me away.”

Last season was Geer’s first starting at Deerfield, and he threw 23 touchdowns and over 2,000 yards.

“Great kid,” Barbato said. “Well put together. (Runs a) 4.65 40 with a 37-inch vert. He dunks a basketball with ease.”

Also, Geer is still 15 years old. He did not reclassify.

“To see what he’s doing, and how he’s doing it, is pretty impressive,” Barbato said.

Another 2025 player worth watching is Willem Thurber, a 6-6, 226-pound tight end. He has offers from Dartmouth and Charlotte so far. As a sophomore, he made 31 catches for 365 yards. Barbato estimates Thurber runs between a low-4.7 and high-4.6 40.

Also in the 2025 class is safety Caden True (6-2, 200), a standout track athlete that has offers from Maine and Army.

Center Charlie Smith (6-3, 260) comes to Deerfield from Duxbury, and will be an asset on the lines.