SAN ANTONIO, TX (JANUARY 12, 2024) – This is the final article in a three-part series highlighting the current rankings for the 2023-24 Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia. We will take a look at the teams ranked 1st-5thin college fishing’s only all-encompassing National Rankings system.
1) University of Montevallo
The University of Montevallo is currently ranked number one in the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia. Montevallo achieved collegiate bass fishing history in 2023 by becoming the first team ever to win the title three times (2021, 2022, 2023).
Through the mid-way point in the 2023-24 season, Montevallo has earned a season total of 13,560 points. That points total has them just over 500 points ahead of second ranked Carson-Newman University.
Montevallo has earned points at a total of eight events to count towards the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia. The worst points qualifying finish they had across those eight events was 25th. In total, they’ve won four tournaments, and had at least one team in the Top 5 at three other events.
“Once everyone got into tournament mode…it’s been the typical Montevallo way, guys catching them in every tournament…day in and day out,” said Tyler Cory, Montevallo angler. “Everyone is really fired up to be back on top, and we just hope that we can ride this wave all the way through.”
The University of Montevallo got off to a great start to the 2023-24 season by earning the most points of any one team to compete at the 2023 Bassmaster College Series Championship last fall. Montevallo had one team finish in the third and another in fifth, good enough for a total of 3,880 points.
The team’s next major event came at the ACA’s Bass Pro Shops Big Bass Bash presented by Berkley on Kentucky Lake. Hunter Odom finished second overall, and Easton Fothergill took 22nd. Those two Top 25 finishes earned the team 3,280 points.
Just a few weeks later at Lake Dardanelle, Montevallo earned 3,240 points during the AFTCO Collegiate Bass Open. Peyton Harris & Dalton Head finished in third, and Peyton Sorrow & Garrett Ring claimed 25th.
At the halfway point in the 2023-24 season, Montevallo has its sights set on claiming its fourth-straight title.
“It’s awesome, it definitely adds a little bit of pressure to be the first team to ever do it four times…especially in a row,” added Cory. “It’d be awesome to win it every year that we were in school. We’re going to have to bring our A game every time we hit the water this spring, and hope that it shakes out.”
2) Carson-Newman University
The second ranked team in the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia is Carson-Newman University. With a season total of 12,980 points, Carson-Newman trails Montevallo by just over 500 points, and is clear of third ranked University of North Alabama by just over 700 points.
In 2023, Carson-Newman achieved its highest-ever end of season ranking for the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia. The team from Tennessee finished the 2022-23 campaign ranked third. Entering this year, they were selected as the fourth ranked team in the ACA Pre-Season Poll.
Carson-Newman started off the fall swing on the Bass Pro Shops Collegiate Bass Fishing Series with a strong showing. The team’s two biggest fish at the Bass Pro Shops Big Bass Bash presented by Berkley finished in fourth and a tie for sixth. Those two Top 10 big bass earned Carson-Newman a total of 3,420 points. That is the highest points total earned by any one school at the first ACA event of the season.
At the AFTCO Collegiate Bass Open on Lake Dardanelle, Carson-Newman earned a total of 3,390 points. Hayden Gaddis & Ben Cully finished in sixth, and Storm Cline & Gavin Clevenger took seventh.
To this point in the season, Carson-Newman has earned points at a total of nine events. Carson-Newman anglers also competed at the MLF College Series event on the Harris Chain in Florida. When the latest points update comes out next week, depending on how the team fairs in the latest MLF College Series National Championship, Carson-Newman could be ranked number one for the first time ever in its school’s history.
3) University of North Alabama
The University of North Alabama is a two-time past winner for the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia (2014, 2015). After a few down years in recent history, per their program’s standards, UNA is experiencing a strong resurgence this season. The team from Florence, AL is currently ranked third with 12,285 points.
“We’re all pretty jacked up about it, but we’ve got a lot of work to do,” said Carter Nutt, UNA angler. “That’s really our goal for the rest of the season, to have two in the Top 10 at every event.”
While they didn’t place two teams in the Top 10 at every major event throughout the fall in 2023, UNA had very strong showings. Here is a look at UNA’s top two finishing teams at each major, double points event through the first half of the season:
Bassmaster College Series National Championship: 12th, 26th
Bass Pro Shops Big Bass Bash presented by Berkley: 5th, 12th
AFTCO Collegiate Bass Open: 21st, 22nd
MLF College Series at Lake Hartwell: 7th, 42nd
UNA anglers earned over 3,000 points at each of the two ACA major double points events this past fall.
At the first major college event of 2024, Dylan Nutt & Carter Nutt secured the victory at the MLF event on the Harris Chain. Those points will be included in the next major update next week. That victory will go a long ways towards UNA’s goal of joining Montevallo as the only team to win the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia three times.
“It would really be super special for all of us. Now, for us to be in the running for the School of the Year, it’s pretty awesome and it makes all of us feel really good,” added Carter Nutt. “With the Championship, the triple points event, being on Pickwick…we are all super fired up for that event. Our goal is just to stay in the mix and then hopefully be able to separate ourselves at that event.”
4) Auburn University
Auburn University entered the 2023-24 season ranked number one in the ACA Pre-Season Poll for the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia. Six months into the current season, the team from Auburn, AL finds itself in fourth place with 11,725 points. Just over 1,800 points behind top ranked Montevallo, Auburn is within striking distance of finishing the year ranked number one for the first time in school history.
Auburn came into the 2023-24 campaign following back-to-back second place finishes (2022, 2023). Auburn anglers have earned points at a total of eight events this season.
Hayden Marbut and Tucker Smith propelled Auburn to an early hot start by winning the Bassmaster College Series National Championship back in August. Auburn’s next highest-finishing team at that event placed 51st. Those two top finishes earned the team a total of 3,285 points.
Auburn anglers earned 3,030 points at the Bass Pro Shops Big Bass Bash presented by Berkley, and 2,750 points at the AFTCO Collegiate Bass Open. These marks are both just a hair behind those from each of the three teams ranked ahead of them to this point.
Auburn is one of three teams ranked in the Top 5 looking to claim its first ever title for the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia.
Auburn anglers have a long history of success at each of the ACA’s two upcoming stops this spring; Lake Hartwell and Pickwick Lake.
Auburn has won the Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops twice, once at Pickwick Lake (2016) and once at Lake Hartwell (2023). If Auburn is in the mix for the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia by the time of the ACA National Championship on Pickwick Lake, look for them to make a strong push to be ranked number one following that event.
5) McKendree University
Rounding out the Top 5 in this rankings reveal is McKendree University. The two-time title winner (2020, 2021) has earned a season total of 11,470 points and is ranked fifth in the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia.
Through the years, McKendree University has established itself as one of the powerhouse teams in collegiate bass fishing. The team from Illinois was selected fifth in the ACA Pre-Season Poll prior to the start of the 2023-24 season.
Since 2018, McKendree University has not finished a season ranked outside of the Top 5 in the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia.
McKendree is currently joined by UNA and Montevallo as one of three teams to ever finish the season ranked number one on multiple occasions. This season, McKendree could join Montevallo in the record books as the only team to ever win the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia three times.
Through the first half of the 2023-24 season, McKendree University has earned over 2,000 points at every major, double points event. They currently sit just over 2,000 points behind top ranked Montevallo and a little more than 150 points ahead of sixth ranked Murray State University. McKendree University will need to get off to a strong start to the spring season to continue to have a shot at achieving collegiate bass fishing history this year.