San Antonio, TX – School is starting back for many college students across the country, which means a new college fishing season is right around the corner! To kick off the new season, the Association of Collegiate Anglers is debuting the results in its annual pre-season poll for the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia. This feature article will highlight teams that were voted 6th – 15th by college anglers, coaches, and media members.
6. Campbellsville University
7. Blue Mountain Christian University
T-8. Emmanuel College
T-8. University of North Alabama
10. Bethel University
11. Drury University
12. Bryan College
13. Murray State University
14. Tarleton State University
6. Campbellsville University: Campbellsville University is the first team to be highlighted in this feature debuting teams ranked 6th – 15th in the ACA Pre-Season Poll for the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia. Campbellsville achieved its highest-ever end-of-season ranking during the 2022-23 season by finishing the year ranked 7th overall out of hundreds of collegiate bass fishing teams across the nation. Entering this upcoming season, the team from Campbellsville, KY is aiming to finish the 2023-24 campaign at the top of the rankings. “Our long goal, obviously, is to win SOY! We’re ready for the challenge of that pursuit but we also know how tough the competition is,” said Tony Miracle, Head Bass Fishing Coach at Campbellsville University. “We’re going to focus on finishing in the Top 5 with our eyes looking at Top 3. We’re ready to compete and I have all the confidence in Campbellsville Bass Fishing for 2023-24.”
7. Blue Mountain Christian University: Following a 9th place finish in the 2022-23 Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia, Blue Mountain Christian University has been picked 7th in the pre-season poll. BMC has finished in the Top 10 of the National Rankings for five consecutive seasons. Last season, the team from Mississippi had a major victory in Florida to kickstart their spring season. The team will be looking for more strong showings on the national stage to continue to rise up the rankings.
T-8. Emmanuel College: Emmanuel College finished last season ranked 8th and will start the 2023-24 campaign tied for that same position in the rankings. Like many of the teams featured inside of the Top 25 for this pre-season poll, Emmanuel College has continued to improve season after season.
2019-20: 98th Place
2020-21: 22nd Place
2021-22: 19th Place
2022-23: 8th Place
The 2022-23 end-of-season ranking for Emmanuel College marked the team’s highest-ever finish in the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia.
T-8. University of North Alabama: The University of North Alabama is a former two-time winner of the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia (2014, 2015). To start the 2023-24 season, UNA has been voted in a tie for 8th in the ACA’s annual pre-season poll. The team from Florence, AL finished last season ranked 6th and is looking to do even better this upcoming year. “The UNA Bass Team prides itself on a constant, ever-learning group of anglers,” said Nathan Reynolds, UNA angler. “Winning the School of the Year title is a goal of each angler on our team, but fundamentally we are excited to see ourselves grow and rank higher and higher than in previous years. During the 2023-24 season, we would like to keep improving, moving higher up the leaderboard.”
10. Bethel University: Checking in at 10th place is another former winner of the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia, Bethel University. The team from McKenzie, TN won the title in 2019, as they finished that season ranked number one in college fishing’s only all-encompassing National Rankings system. Bethel finished the 2022-23 season ranked 13th. Last season, Bethel University started off strong with two Top 5 finishes at the Bass Pro Shops Big Bass Bash presented by Berkley. The first ACA double points event of the season is set to take place at Kentucky Lake again in just over a month. Look for that tournament to be crucial in every team’s pursuit of earning valuable points towards the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia.
11. Drury University: The next team to be highlighted in this rankings reveal is the only school from the state of Missouri to be ranked in the Top 25 of the pre-season poll. Drury University has been selected 11th in the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia to start the new season. Drury finished last year ranked 12th with 30,910 points. Over the course of three seasons (2020-22) Drury finished each year ranked inside of the Top 10. Going into this upcoming season, the team from Springfield, MO is looking to climb back inside of the Top 10 and continue to improve as a team. “Our goal for 2023-24 will be to finish in the Top 10 for SOY and to win a major event, plus continue to gain experience and consistency,” said Rick Emmitt, Head Coach at Drury University.
12. Bryan College: Bryan College is the third former winner of the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia (2017) to be featured in the ACA Pre-Season Poll. Located in Dayton, TN, Bryan College has been voted as the 12th best team in the nation. Bryan College finished last season ranked 14th. That 14th place finish marked the 8th straight season in which the team has finished the year ranked inside of the Top 25 (2015-2023).
13. Murray State University: “We are all very excited to be able to have another successful year here at Murray State. Staying within that Top 10 is the goal every year and we hope to see ourselves push forward back into the Top 5 by the end of the 2023-24 school year.” This was the message Murray State University shared with the ACA at the conclusion of the 2022-23 season. To start the 2023-24 race for the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia, Murray State has been selected 13th. Murray State is looking to claim its first School of the Year title, and its highest-ever end of season ranking is 3rd.
14. Tarleton State University: Tarleton State University is the highest-ranked team from the state of Texas to be featured in the ACA’s Pre-Season Poll. Following an 11th place finish last year, Tarleton State has been voted as the 14th best bass fishing team in the country. The team from Stephenville, TX finished the 2022-23 season ranked 11th in the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia. “I think it goes without saying that Tarleton is always on the hunt for the School of the Year title. Being able to claim a Top 5 finish this coming season would be something that the Texans could definitely achieve in the meantime,” said Garett Cadenhead.
15. LSU-Shreveport: Rounding out this highlight of teams ranked 6th – 15th in the pre-season poll is LSU Shreveport. Last year’s 15th place finish marked LSU-Shreveport’s best finish ever in the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia. Coming off of a benchmark year for their program, LSUS is looking to carry that momentum over as they start this season ranked 15th. “Well, our achievements for the 2023-24 season is likely going to be the same goal as last year. Set an achievable goal and try to reach it or do better,” said Charles Thompson, Head Coach at LSU-Shreveport. “Next year our goal is to get inside the Top 10. We’re truly blessed to take part in such an awesome sport. We’re going to enjoy the ride.”