NLF Futures at IMG: Top Middies in the ’26 Class
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Following up on last week’s post on the defensemen, we’re now heading over to the offensive side of the ball and highlighting some of the better midfielders in attendance. Full disclosure: since there were 10 teams and six time slots,…
Following up on last week’s post on the defensemen, we’re now heading over to the offensive side of the ball and highlighting some of the better midfielders in attendance.
Full disclosure: since there were 10 teams and six time slots, I wasn’t able to see as much of teams like Harvard, Notre Dame, Virginia, Yale, and Duke, though the training portion and All-Star Game helped matters.
Remarkably skilled, Devir is far from an unknown commodity, having excelled with Leading Edge’s ‘25s before deciding to reclass heading into the school year. Everything he did popped during Saturday’s drills and skill work, and he carried that over to gameplay, during which he was super productive and steady. Explosive coming out of his dodge and possessing excellent hands, he had a handful of gorgeous feeds and was also impactful when he lined up on attack on the final day. Devir was always getting back to the middle of the field and other high-percentage areas and overall did a terrific job playing within himself and making things happen under pressure or when the first look wasn’t there.
I’ve been wowed by Johnston’s ability to do a multitude of things at a high level. He’s accurate and disciplined as a shooter and more than anything, intelligent beyond his years — Johnston’s grandfather is legendary Hall of Fame coach Jack Emmer — and he moves without the ball as well as any ’26 middie I’ve gotten eyes on. Down at IMG, he had some really impressive goals but did far more than just score, stripping some of the event’s top players, intercepting passes, and owning contested groundballs. It’s not a coincidence that his team ultimately won the championship. With St. Anthony’s forced to replace a lot of offensive production, expect Johnston to be among several Friar sophomores to see playing time this spring.
Another midfield weapon out of Jersey, Lutz looks the part at 6’2 and 170 pounds, with room to fill out even more. His poise with the ball in his stick was noticeable and everything you’d expect from a kid who racked up 34 goals as a freshman. Lutz snaps the ball off with force from every release point imaginable and, like his teammate Devir, he’s got superb vision along with the ability to know when to attack and when to defer. One of the highlights of the weekend came when Lutz recognized that just seconds were left in the quarter, beat his man cleanly then buried a sidearm shot with minimal angle as time expired.
Highlighted twice at NAL and the NLF Fall Invitational, Gillis has received quite a bit of love since Prep Lacrosse’s launch, however, it’d be borderline irresponsible not to show him some more after another huge campaign from the lefty from Lynbrook on Long Island. Equally capable of making a difference at both attack and midfield, it’s hard to say where he projects, but there’s a strong chance that Gillis winds up as the Flyers’ starting lefty attackman, and it’s been easy to see why Jack Moran would want him on the field. He has a knack for making everyone around him better and is just so dynamic for a player with three years left, checking all of the boxes in terms of the ways he’s able to produce offense. In Monday’s championship, Gillis took over the game and posted three goals plus an assist as he helped Maryland go on a run to win 8-4.
As a repeat freshman in 2023, Giordano got a ton of minutes on a senior-laden roster for a ‘Wick program that has sent dozens of midfielders to the Division I level in the last decade. While he’s on the small side at 5’9, he’s a hard-charger who packs a punch up top with an absolute cannon from the outside, shooting the ball on the run better than just anybody else in the Class of 2026 at this early point. There’s no doubt that he could stand to clean up some areas of his game and improve his consistency, but there’s still so much to like with his athleticism, skill set, and overall production. Giordano, who transferred from nearby Darien HS, always seems to empty the tank and brings it on defense, routinely jamming opposing dodgers up top. It’ll be fun to watch his progression as he’s leaned on more as part of the Bruins’ midfield contingent this upcoming season.
— As mentioned above, St. Anthony’s has an awesome crop of midfielders in the ’26 class, including a pair of Johnston’s LI Express teammates in Dylan Harrigan and Brody Richert. Harrigan, a hard-nosed lefty scorer, sees the field well and shoots it well on the run, while Richert is bigger and more versatile as a two-way threat. A standout for Team 91 LI, Anthony Mancaruso has also shown a lot of promise over the past few months and turned heads at IMG. Checking in at 6’1 and 185 pounds, he’s explosive when he puts his foot in the ground, often beating his man with ease and ripping it on the run.
— I also liked what I saw out of Lutz and Devir’s club teammates and fellow All-Star selections, Joseph Whitehouse (Rumson Fair Haven, N.J.) and Vincent Raphalian (Taft, Conn.), last weekend. Whitehouse has strong size and athleticism and showed off a hammer from the outside, both in transition and 6-on-6. Recently joining his Rutgers-bound brother Bennett at Taft after coming over from Rumson, Raphalian showed a lot of flashes and did a great job getting back to his left hand.
— Coming out of Phillips Exeter (N.H.) and Laxachusetts, the Moore twins, Ethan and Gabe, also caught my eye running out of the box. Though I didn’t get to see as much of their squad last weekend, they’ve been really solid throughout the fall and winter events, displaying versatile and savvy skill sets while thriving at both attack and midfield. Making plays in the All-Star Game, Ethan’s the lefty, while Gabe’s a right-hander. They’ve already established themselves within Matt Callahan’s program and will only get better.