National Letter of Intent Day was Wednesday, and that meant a new class of Sounders Academy graduates committed to growing their game (and getting an education) at schools across the country. This year 15 players committed to play at Division I schools, the largest group in the Academy's six-year history. When more than a full starting lineup of players is being offered scholarships to play at very competitive schools, you know you're doing something right.
The schools that will be adding Sounders next season include two of the four College Cup teams. Akron, which hasn't had a Sounder since DeAndre Yedlin, recruited two: goalkeeper Tor Saunders and defender Nick Hinds. Both are regular starters on a defense that's allowed only 17 goals in 17 games, and Hinds was called up to the U20 national team in the fall. National finalist Clemson (who lost to Jordan Morris and Stanford in the final) recruited midfielder Harrison Kurtz, who's been in the Sounders Academy system since 2012.
The University of Washington got its usual haul of Sounders Academy kids, with forward Handwalla Bwana, defender Kasey French, and midfielder John Magnus all committing to the Huskies. They'll replace the graduated Ryan Herman, Ian Lange, and Michael Gallagher to keep up the number of Sounders at Montlake. Also staying local is Connor Noblat, who will join fellow Sounders Academy alum David Olsen at the First Hill campus.
The University of Denver has also become something of a Sounder stronghold, with recent HGP signing Jordan Schweitzer playing four years there. He was joined by Tosh Samkange and Ryan Schaefer last year, and now they've added defender Tobi Jnhohope, who joined the Academy from Florida this season.
Here's the full list of 2016 commits so far: