Top College Series prospects for 2023

The Strike King Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops has proven to be the pathway for young anglers looking to get into the professional ranks of bass fishing. You know the names Patrick Walters, Drew Cook, Jake Whitaker and Cody Huff. All of those anglers began their careers competing for National Championships for their respective universities. A panel of former college anglers that consisted of Ronnie Moore, Christopher Decker, Louis Monetti, Kyle Jessie and myself (Chase Sansom) came together to build the prospect list for 2023.
In fact, there are currently 19 Bassmaster Elite Series pros that are former collegiate anglers and four of the last six Bassmaster Elite Series Rookie of the Year awards have been won by former collegiate anglers. 2023 rookies Cole Sands (Bryan College) and Will Davis Jr. (Bethel University) are the newest Bassmaster College Series grads to join the Elite ranks.
Before we move into the prospect list, if you missed the action from the 2022 season make sure to click here to go back and check out The Juice from last year on the Strike King Bassmaster College Series!
Tucker Smith - Hayden Marbut, Auburn University
The band is back together. The 2020 High School National Champions from Briarwood Christian have teamed back up, this time as college anglers at Auburn. Both anglers are former Bassmaster High School All-Americans who have been dominating at the local level in Alabama recently and will look to bring that success back to the College Series stage. In his first two years at Auburn, Smith found immediate success with former partner and current Opens pro Logan Parks, earning a College Series trophy at Saginaw Bay and the Team of the Year title in 2021. Smith and Parks also won the $1,000,000 prize in the Bass Pro Shops US Open Team Championship back in November of 2021. Marbut and Garrett Warren also made last year's prospect list, and together, they notched a top 30 finish at the Wild Card event at Logan Martin. 
Lafe Messer - Matt Messer, Kentucky Christian University
After an incredible run at the Bassmaster College Series Team of the Year during the 2022 season, the duo is looking to avenge their second-place finish in the points. The Messer brothers, Lafe (left) and Matt (right) started the 2022 season by winning at the Harris Chain of Lakes, breaking the Bassmaster College Series single-day weight record in the process with a massive 36-7 bag on Day 2. They would go on to rack up two more top 20 finishes with a seventh-place finish at Norfork Lake and a 19th-place showing at Saginaw Bay. The Messer brothers are going to work double duty in 2023 as both brothers will be fishing the Bassmaster Opens Elite Qualifier. Keep an eye out for these two in 2023.
Connor Jacob - Sam Smith, Auburn University
When it comes to shallow-water fishing, the Auburn University duo of Connor Jacob (left) and Sam Smith (right) are two you have got to watch out for. They proved that at the 2022 National Championship at Winyah Bay, where they made the final day cut and finished 10th. After a rough start to the 2022 season, they rebounded with a fourth-place finish at Lake Norman and followed that up with two top 20 finishes. The schedule certainly allows shallow fishing through all four events, and if so, this team could make a real run at Team of the Year.
Sam Hanggi - Sam Hoesley, Auburn University
The double Sam duo from Auburn University will be one to watch for during the 2023 season. They scored two top 12 finishes during the 2022 season, one at Lake Norman and the other at Saginaw Bay, and finished the season 12th-place in the Team of the Year points. The two-time Bassmaster College Series National Championship qualifiers will certainly make a splash this season.
Hayden Scott - Gerald Brumbaugh, Adrian College
A newly formed duo of Hayden Scott and Gerald Brumbaugh (not pictured) will certainly be looking to make a statement in 2023. Scott and the now graduated Griffin Fernandes won the 2021 College Series National Championship on the St. Lawrence River and competed in the College Classic Bracket.
Levi Mullins – Matthew Cummings, Bethel University
As much as a team from Bethel University can, Levi Mullins (left) and Matthew Cummings (right) have flown a little under the radar, but they have some really impressive finishes on their resume. For starters, they are two-time National Championship qualifiers. Their best finish of 2022 came in the first event at the Harris Chain , where they took home a third-place finish. Later in the season, Mullins and Cummings made the final day cut at the 2022 Bassmaster College National Championship, finishing up ninth.
Hayden Gaddis – Ben Cully, Carson Newman University
Hayden Gaddis (left) and Ben Cully (right) have been fixtures of consistency over the past couple years on the Bassmaster College Series. The Carson-Newman duo won on Lake Hartwell in 2021, finished fifth place in the Team of the Year race in 2021, notched a ninth-place finish on the Harris Chain in 2022 and earned a sixth-place finish in the 2022 National Championship. Not to mention they won the 2022 Strike King Bassmaster College Classic presented by Bass Pro Shops at Lake Keowee and were introduced to the fishing world on the Bassmaster Classic stage. This will most certainly be a team that will make a run in 2023 and possibly find themselves in the College Classic Bracket at the end of the year. 
Andrew Vereen - Connor Cartmell, Coastal Carolina University
The 2022 Bassmaster College National Championship winners will look to repeat their fortunes in 2023. After a rough start to the year, the duo got the wheels back on the wagon in the College Series Wild Card at Logan Martin with an eighth-place finish, which ultimately qualified them for the National Championship on their home waters. They would take the lead after Day 2 in the National Championship and cruise to the victory, punching their tickets to the College Classic Bracket in the process. Some seemingly favorable fisheries await Vereen (left) and Cartmell (right) in 2023, including the James River. Can they ride the late-season momentum into 2023?
Beau Browning - Drake Sturgill, University of Montevallo
Beau Browning (left) hit the transfer portal this season to join the ranks at Montevallo and Drake Sturgill (right) will be joining the team as a freshman. Browning is very familiar with success in the collegiate ranks, earning a win for Drury University with former partner Jake Peck at Lake Norfork last year. He and Peck also notched two top 40 finishes and landed ninth in the Team of the Year standings in 2022. Sturgill, meanwhile, was named a 2022 Bassmaster All-State honoree. While they might be new fishing partners, look for this team to have a breakout year.
Easton Fothergill - Nick Dumke, University of Montevallo
This duo from the state of Minnesota has proved yet again they belong on the list. They finished 15th place in the Team of the Year race in 2022. After a rocky start for them at the first three events in 2022, Fothergill (right) and Dumke (left) rebounded at Saginaw Bay to finish fourth and punch their ticket to their second National Championship. Also noteworthy, Fothergill is a Bassmaster High School All-American. Look for them to be a deadly duo in 2023.
Tyler Campbell – Parker Guy, Emmanuel College
Guy (left) never had a finish worse than 34th last year with former partner Brooks Anderson, which led to a third-place showing in the Team of the Year standings. The Bassmaster High School All-American followed that up with a fourth-place finish in the National Championship at Winyah Bay. Campbell (right) had plenty of success in 2022 as well. He is fresh off a second-place finish in the 2022 Bassmaster Team Championship.
Brooks Anderson – Max Heaton, Emmanuel College
As previously mentioned, Anderson had plenty to celebrate in 2022 and is already finding a rhythm with new partner Max Heaton. The Emmanuel College duo won the Clarks Hill Classic King of the Hill event back in November. Anderson, so far, has lived up to his All-American prowess, and he and Heaton will be a team to watch in 2023.
Kayden Tanner, Tarleton State
Coming back from a season on the Opens, Kayden Tanner is one you will likely see at the top of the leaderboard throughout the 2023 season. Tanner missed a Bassmaster Elite Series invite by seven points in the 2022 Bassmaster Southern Opens, ultimately finishing sixth in points. His best finish in 2022 was a 12th at Lake Hartwell in October.
Trey Schroeder – Lane Stephens, McKendree University
Trey Schroeder (left) has a storied career on the Bassmaster College Series. In 2019, Schroeder qualified for the first of two College Classic Brackets with a fourth-place finish in the 2019 Bassmaster College National Championship. Last year, he and partner Tyler Christy would rally on Day 3 of the College National Championship and finish third, qualifying them for their second College Classic Bracket. Stephens is a sophomore and in October, he and partner Colsyn Head notched a top five finish at an ACA event in October.
Jackson Swisher – Seth Slanker, Florida Gateway College
The Bassmaster All-American duo might have only fished two events on the Bassmaster College Series last year, but it was good enough to land them in the Bassmaster College Classic Bracket. After a 21st-place finish at the Harris Chain, the duo punched their ticket to the National Championship. At Winyah Bay, the duo used their tidal water skills to finish second in that event. Both would advance to the semifinal round of the Bracket and Slanker (left) advanced to the final day, but he could not catch Louis Monetti. Momentum is on this duo’s side, and they start the season in their own backyards.
Nathan Reynolds – Banks Shaw, University of North Alabama
Although they are freshmen, Nathan Reynolds (right) and Banks Shaw (left) bring All-American talent to the College Series. Shaw won the 2021 High School National Championship with partner Gage King while Reynolds and his partner Luke Malik finished sixth at the 2022 High School Championship on Lake Hartwell last August. With so much championship pedigree in the boat, expect early successes from this duo.
Kaden Proffitt – Cason Ragsdale, East Texas Baptist University
Only fishing three events last year, this duo never finished worse than 20th throughout the year. That includes a seventh-place finish at the Harris Chain. This team will look for further success in 2023.
Logan East – Rob Lindsey, Bryan College
Bringing their talents together, the Bryan College duo of Rob Lindsey (left) and Logan East (right) will look to put their previous successes together in 2023. East, who is a sophomore at Bryan, built some positive momentum towards the end of the 2022 season with a third-place finish at Logan Martin and a 23rd-place finish at the National Championship.
Stevie Mills – Brady Duncan, Carson Newman University
It was a tough 2022 season for Stevie Mills (left) and Brady Duncan (right), but 2023 may be the year this tandem breaks out. Before arriving at Carson Newman, Mills competed in the College Classic Bracket as a Bethel University angler. Duncan won a Bassmaster High School event at Lake Cumberland in 2021 before arriving at Carson Newman. The duo will be looking to achieve more finishes like that in 2023.
Owen Januszewski – Matt Mosby, Adrian College
Sophomores at Adrian College, Matt Mosby (middle) and Owen Januszewski (right) had an impressive seventh-place finish on Saginaw Bay last year and rounded out the year with a 12th-place finish in the National Championship.
Kaleb Brown – Chad Mrazek, Lander University
With a runner-up finish on Lake Norfork in 2022, the Lander University duo of Kaleb Brown (left) and Chad Mrazek (right) should be hungry for a win in 2023.
Jeremy Dellinger – Garrett Smith, Lander University
Dellinger (right) hit the transfer portal this offseason and moved to Lander University after he claimed two National Championship qualifications and an eighth-place finish on Lake Norman in 2022 with Catawba Valley CC. Smith (left) won the Lake Norman event last year with Avery Hammock as a member of Erskine College and then finished with a solid 33rd-place result at Winyah Bay to end the season.
Jake Monti – Sam Dunson, UNC Charlotte
After a promising showing at the 2022 National Championship, finishing up in seventh place, Jake Monti (left) and Sam Dunson (right) will approach the 2023 season with confidence. Along with their top 10 finish at Winyah Bay, Monti and Dunson also finished 15th at Lake Norman and 59th at Saginaw Bay in 2022. 
James Willoughby – Jacob Pfundt, University of Montevallo
Former Bassmaster High School All-American James Willoughby (left) and Jacob Pfundt (right) will look to back up their successful 2022 season in 2023. With a seventh-place finish at Lake Norman, an 11th-place finish at the Wildcard event on Logan Martin and an 11th-place finish at the National Championship in 2022, this team has proved they can finish at the top.
Dylan Nutt Carter Nutt, University of North Alabama
Incoming freshman on the Bassmaster College Series, this sibling duo has shown promise on the Bassmaster High School Series. Most recently, they finished in third place in the 2021 Bassmaster High School National Championship and had a 12th-place finish on Lake Cumberland in 2021. Now attending the University of North Alabama, this duo could be a real threat on the College Series in the future.
Cal Culpepper - Ryan Thomas, University of Montevallo
Cal Culpepper (left) and Ryan Thomas (right) will join forces this year on the University of Montevallo Fishing Team. Culpepper is a four time Bassmaster College Series National Championship qualifier and has three Top 10’s on the College Series. Thomas finished up third at the 2022 Norfork event and has two Top 35 finishes at the Bassmaster College Series National Championship.
Brycen Hendriks – Michael Fugaro, UNC Charlotte
Michael Fugaro (left) and Brycen Hendriks (not pictured) will look to carry the torch that Louis Monetti and Fugaro lit in 2022. Fugaro and Monetti claimed the 2022 Team of the Year title, finishing no worse than 30th on the year. Hendriks was part of the UNCC team last year with partner Gavin Ange. Their best finish was a top 50 finish at Lake Norman. It was Fugaro’s first season fishing competitively, and he will look to take the lessons he learned with Monetti and apply them with Hendriks in 2023.