Jacob Chisari, Jake Maher and Daniel Davie (Bendigo Pioneers), Chris Jones and Luke Hannon (Eastern Ranges), Joe Maishman (Geelong Falcons), Declan Keilty (Gippsland), Isaac Muller and Nick Mellington (Murray Bushrangers), Rowan Marshall and Sam Hooper (North Ballarat Rebels), Sam Switkowski and Ryan Tester (Northern Knights), Alex Urban and Lachlan Waddell (Oakleigh Chargers) and Taylor Grace (Sandringham Dragons) all made the squad.
All former TAC Cup players have found a home at VFL clubs with the remaining 13 players in the VFL Academy squad having played VFL or in a state league last year.
The 29-player Academy is the largest since it began in 2012 and includes a Morrish Medal winner (Chisari), four TAC Cup Team of the Year selections (Chisari, Marshall, Grace and Urban) and four TAC Cup club best and fairests (Chisari, Hannon, Switkowski and Urban).
AFL Victoria VFL Academy coach Darren Flanigan said the Academy was a way for promising players to be a part of an AFL high performance system and give themselves an added boost to their footballing resumes.
“The Academy gives these players the opportunity to be part of AFL Victoria’s high performance program,” he said.
“They have all been selected due to their potential, and we will work with these players to further develop their game across the year in addition to the support they receive at their own VFL club.”
Flanigan said the Academy would meet for the first time next month with an emphasis on creating an individual development plan for each member.
“We’ll look at time management, injury prevention, diet and psychology and create an individual development plan,” he said.
“This year we will involve the players in a kicking analysis program as well as a leadership program.
“We will also ask the guys to self-assess what deficiencies they need to work on to develop their game an put their names forward to AFL recruiters.”