Five Foot Great: Gavin Adler’s expectations for 2023
Those were the numbers most closely associated with former Cornell defenseman Gavin Adler before and during the 2023 PLL College Draft.
Not 63 – Adler’s number of caused turnovers during his college career, a category in which he led his team in 2022 (34) and 2023 (25).
Or 149 – The defenseman’s total number of ground balls since 2019.
There’s 39 – Games Adler played, and started, since his sophomore year.
All were overshadowed by those two single digits.
“Everybody continues to talk about his height. That ended for me after my first phone call with the guy,” Atlas coach Mike Pressler said. “He plays like he’s 6-9.”
Adler brings a versatility to the Atlas defense. He can play anywhere in relation to the goal or in the two-man game. As a smaller and quicker player, he can go foot-for-foot with the faster attackmen, something Pressler said Atlas lacked on the close defense. Adler could also play wing on the face-off and is a good bet to cause a turnover when needed most.
In his first season as coach, Pressler wants to implement a blue-collar toughness on Atlas, especially on defense.
“So that’s what we went out to get,” Atlas offensive coordinator Steven Brooks said.
Atlas selected Gavin Adler with the No. 1 pick in the 2023 College Draft. He’s expected to help the Atlas defense impose its will on opposing offenses and set the tempo of play.
On Pressler’s team, Atlas could lose on the scoreboard, but “no one will be out-toughed,” Pressler said.
After drafting Adler, Atlas added Maryland defenseman Brett Makar with the No. 3 selection, creating a full training camp battle on defense. As veterans Tucker Durkin, Cade van Raaphorst and Michael Rexrode compete to keep their starting spots in the lineup, Adler and Makar look to take them.
“For the veteran guys – you know, this is the pros, this isn’t college – they have to step up and earn their spot, earn their minutes,” Pressler said. “If they don’t, there’s other guys that're going to replace them. It’s going to be as fair a shake in training camp as they’ve ever seen.”
While Adler looks to establish his spot on the field, which is likely to be a starting role, his place in the locker room is secure, thanks to his family-style play and unmatched toughness.
“We’re looking for the best players, but more importantly, we’re looking for the best type of character. Who is he off the field? How is he respected by his peers, teammates and coaches?” Brooks said. “When you look at our roster, we have a lot of guys who are egoless. They care about the success of the team rather than their own success. Looking at the draft, we wanted to find depth in our defensive end, so we went for the best caliber players that fit the Atlas mentality.”
Now, the only number that matters is one – The No. 1 pick in the draft looking to help Atlas capture its first championship in club history.