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July 06, 2023

Philly sports' top 25 under 25

From the Eagles' franchise QB in Jalen Hurts to the Flyers' massive bet on the rebuild in Matvei Michkov, these are the young guns shaping both the present and future of Philly sports.

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021523JalenHurtsGardnerMinshew Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

Eagles QB Jalen Hurts emerging from the Lincoln Financial Field tunnel.

Time is always moving, the landscape is always shifting, and sometimes – especially when it comes to the state of Philly sports – everything can change in an instant. 

So even when times are good, or bad, or a bit of both, there's always an eye towards the future and hope in the up-and-coming athletes who are going to shape it.

Some of them – like Jalen Hurts and DeVonta Smith on the Eagles and Tyrese Maxey on the Sixers – are already here and trying to drive their teams forward, while others – like Phillies top pitching prospect Andrew Painter and the new face of the Flyers' rebuild in Matvei Michkov – are going to need varying amounts of time and development before they can start making an impact. 

But be it tomorrow, or today, the next wave does eventually get here, and with a rank of Philly sports' top 25 athletes under the age of 25, here's what it looks like right now...

1. Jalen Hurts, Eagles QB, 24

The franchise QB, the face of the Eagles, and arguably the face of Philly sports on the whole right now. Hurts is fresh off an MVP-caliber season and a run to the Super Bowl that fell just short, and with a big-money but flexible contract that will allow the team to stay competitive for the foreseeable future, he's on a mission to make it all the way back and win it – all with the personality, strength of will, and competitive fire that perfectly encapsulates the city he plays for. 

2. DeVonta Smith, Eagles WR, 24

A great receiver on the cusp of the NFL's elite, Smith is one of the league's sharpest route runners, is half of one of its most lethal duos alongside A.J. Brown (26), and was the one to finally shift momentum at wideout in a big way after years of decent at best to outright bad production at the position. 

3. Tyrese Maxey, Sixers G, 22

A guard rapidly on the rise the past three seasons and the one who may have already proven to be the 2020 NBA Draft's biggest steal. Maxey has become an indispensable part of the Sixers' starting five, and with him due up for an extension, the organization kicking that can down the road to next summer is a dangerous bet to be taking. 

4. Andrew Painter, Phillies RHP, 20

The Phillies' top-ranked prospect and the arm of the future who likely would've been on the team already if it weren't for an injury in the spring. Painter is slowly but surely making his way back to the mound, and while the Phillies would love to have him as soon as possible, he's got a whole career ahead of him. There's no rush. 

5. Jalen Carter, Eagles DT, 22

The ninth-overall pick in April's NFL Draft and a key piece to an outright dominant Georgia Bulldogs defense that won back-to-back National Championships, Carter is a vicious pass rusher who is being brought in to help ensure the Eagles' defensive line never misses a beat. 

6. Nolan Smith, Eagles EDGE, 22

And in a similar vein, Smith was also drafted from that Georgia defense to do the same off the edge. 

7. Jordan Davis, Eagles DT, 23

While Davis, already here from the year before as 2022's 13th overall pick (from Georgia), is a massive run-stopper on the inside who is expected to take on much more in his sophomore season.

8. Nakobe Dean, Eagles LB, 22

The second-year linebacker – again from Georgia – who will also be looking to take a big step in 2023. The Eagles are definitely trusting him to as they're giving him the green dot on defense to relay all the play calls.

9. Matvei Michkov, Flyers RW, 18

The Russian phenom the Flyers took with the seventh overall pick in the NHL Draft a week ago. It's a massive gamble for sure as he likely won't be able to come over to North America until 2026, but if it pays off, there's going to be a goal-scoring star awaiting Philly at the end of this rebuild. 

10. Cutter Gauthier, Flyers LW, 19

The fifth overall pick by the Flyers from the summer before, Gauthier also has a lot of upside toward becoming a top-line winger, but another season developing his game at Boston College will come first. 

11. Cam Jurgens, Eagles C/RG, 23

The center out of Nebraska who was drafted to be Jason Kelce's eventual successor. The torch hasn't been passed just yet though, so in the meantime, Jurgens is working to give right guard a go. He's too talented a lineman to just have him sit. 

12. Landon Dickerson, Eagles LG, 24

A first-time Pro Bowler in only his second season, Dickerson was a big, though perhaps underrated, reason why the Eagles' offensive line remained as good as it was in 2022.

13. Kenny Gainwell, Eagles RB, 24

Looking to prove that "Playoff Gainwell" was no flash in the pan, the third-year back will be looking to step into a lead role in 2023 even among a now crowded running back room.

14. Justin Crawford, Phillies OF, 19

The Phillies' first-round pick last summer at 17th overall, Crawford is batting .342 in Single-A Clearwater and was recently selected to the MLB All-Star Futures Game for later this month. 

15. Mick Abel, Phillies RHP, 21

Another one of the Phillies' top arms down on the farm, Abel has struggled somewhat with Double-A Reading this season, but so long as his pitches are developing, the organization, in turn, will exhibit patience. 

16. Griff McGarry, Phillies RHP, 24

The third of the Phillies' top pitching prospects. McGarry missed the first month of the season due to injury but is finding a groove again over in Double-A Reading. He has some devastating pitches, led by a high-velocity fastball, but it's the development of his command over them that will determine how far he can really go. 

17. Owen Tippett, Flyers RW, 24

With an instinct for finding the open ice, a wicked shot, and the size and skating to effectively drive the puck toward the net, Tippett finally put all of that together in his first full season in Philadelphia and broke out to easily career-best numbers. He has his footing in the NHL and a clear role carved out with the Flyers going forward. Now it's about finding out how high his ceiling really is. 

18. Joel Farabee, Flyers LW, 23

Last year just wasn't kind to Farabee. The neck injury and then surgery in the summer took away any chance he had to build strength, and even though he recovered in time to play the season, he struggled for the better part of it. That said, there were points later in the season where you could see him putting the promising pieces of his game back together, which lends to the idea that he's in line for a bounce-back – that's what the Flyers are banking on, at least.

19. Cam York, Flyers D, 22

The Flyers' first-round pick from 2019, York took a major step into becoming a regular NHLer last season and his continued development will be an important part of what needs to be a totally overhauled blueline. 

20. Tyson Foerster, Flyers RW, 21

Foerster got his first taste of the NHL late last season and held up well with seven points through eight games, then went back to the AHL to help Lehigh Valley in a playoff push. The 2020 first-round pick will come into camp looking to crack the Flyers' roster full-time, hoping that experience from last year will be enough to have him ready for it. 

21. Oliver Bonk, Flyers D, 18

The Flyers' second first-round pick at 22nd overall last week, Bonk was one of the more well-rounded defensive prospects available and has all the makings of becoming a strong two-way defenseman for the top pairing. Incredible hockey name, too

22. Sydney Brown, Eagles S, 23

An athletic third-round safety out of Illinois who may need to step in and play right away, but if that call does come, he's sure he'll be ready for it

23. Kelee Ringo, Eagles CB, 21

Another Georgia Bulldog with tons of promise and one who will have the massive benefit of Darius Slay and James Bradberry being there to help bring him along. 

24. D'Andre Swift, Eagles RB, 24

A product of St. Joe's Prep and, when healthy, a highly dynamic running back who could quickly prove as yet another threat to worry about from that already loaded Eagles offense. 

25. Carter Hart, Flyers G, 24

A solid starting goaltender but not a truly great one just yet. He's still young enough to fit the plans for the Flyers' rebuild, but there's no guarantee he'll stick around to see it through. 

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