(Editor's note: This is part 3 of a 3-part story. To read part 1, click here. For part 2, click here.)

By BassFan Staff

Cliff Pace -- Petal, Miss.
> Qualified through: Elite Series points (18th)
> Fished: 4 Classics
> Best Classic finish: 2nd (2008)
> Elite Series finishes at Grand: 93rd (2007)
> Current world rank: 43rd


> Insight: Although his sample size is still relatively small, Pace has established himself as a threat in wintertime Classics. In three appearances since the changeover, he's yet to finish lower than 14th and was the runner-up to Alton Jones at Hartwell in 2008. He can fish shallow or deep, and the fact that the fish at Grand will still be a long ways from the spawn will benefit him (if for no other reason that it'll hinder anglers who are more proficient in that stage than he is). He bears watching.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Brandon Palaniuk -- Rathdrum, Idaho
> Qualified through: Bull Shoals Lake Elite Series winner
> Fished: 2 Classics
> Best Classic finish: 4th (2011)
> Elite Series finishes at Grand: N/A
> Current world rank: 32nd
> Insight: With just 2 years on the Elite Series under his belt, Palaniuk has yet to establish much in the way of long-term consistency. The Classic, however, is about short-term consistency (3 days), and the 25-year-old has already proven that he can win at the sport's top level. He's also shown that he can put together a good Classic gameplan, as he ended up fishing the same area as winner Kevin VanDam in 2011. He could be a huge factor at Grand – or no factor at all.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Mark Pierce -- Clarksville, Tenn.
> Qualified through: B.A.S.S. Nation Southern champion
> Fished: 0 Classics
> Best Classic finish: N/A
> Elite Series finishes at Grand: N/A
> Current world rank: N/A
> Insight: Pierce is a Kentucky Lake stud, so he's no doubt quite familiar with using a jerkbait to entice pre-spawn bass. Any BassFans have additional insight?

Cliff Prince -- Palatka, Fla.
> Qualified through: Elite Series points (29th)
> Fished: 0 Classics
> Best Classic finish: N/A
> Elite Series finishes at Grand: N/A
> Current world rank: 171st
> Insight: Prince had a couple of hiccups in his rookie year on the Elite Series, but made up for those with a pair of single-digit finishes to nail down a Classic spot in his initial season. He's a St. Johns River rat and might be a little out of his comfort zone at expansive, chilly Grand, but if there were any doubts that he could fish outside the Sunshine State, he dispelled them last year. Not a favorite to win, but definitely a guy who'll enjoy his first Classic experience to the fullest.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Jason Quinn -- York, S.C.
> Qualified through: Elite Series points (29th)
> Fished: 5 Classics
> Best Classic finish: 6th (2004)
> Elite Series finishes at Grand: 75th (2007), 27th (2006)
> Current world rank: 60th
> Insight: Quinn made three Classics in a row from 2002-04, but has been a once-every-3-years guy since then and he squeaked into this one with an 8th-place finish in the final Elite Series event at Oneida. When he's in the Classic field, he usually hangs around for the duration, as he's finished no lower than 17th in his last three appearances. Likes to fish fast and cover a lot of water, and that may be a key to finding quality at Grand.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito
Photo: B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito

Skeet Reese is back in the sport's premier event after a 1-year hiatus.

Skeet Reese -- Auburn, Calif.
> Qualified through: Elite Series points (11th)
> Fished: 13 Classics
> Best Classic finish: 1st (2009)
> Elite Series finishes at Grand: 67th (2007), 70th (2006)
> Current world rank: 39th
> Insight: Reese had made nine straight Classics (winning one and finishing 2nd in another) before missing last year's event following a sub-par 2011 Elite Series season. To say that he'll be happy to be back would be an egregious understatement. He's had no success figuring out Grand in the late spring, but that'll likely have no bearing on what he does this time. Has all the tools to make a run at a second crown.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Marty Robinson -- Lyman, S.C.
> Qualified through: Elite Series points (26th)
> Fished: 1 Classic
> Best Classic finish: 29th (2012)
> Elite Series finishes at Grand: 7th (2007)
> Current world rank: 55th
> Insight: Had a great campaign going on the Elite Series last year until a couple of bombs curtailed his momentum, but he hung on to make his second straight Classic. His 7th-place showing at Grand in 2007 was his best in 5-plus years on the Elites until he topped that with a 3rd at Toledo Bend in 2012. Would likely be best-served if he can find some quality up shallow.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Dean Rojas -- Lake Havasu, Ariz.
> Qualified through: Elite Series points (16th)
> Fished: 10 Classics
> Best Classic finish: 4th (2004)
> Elite Series finishes at Grand: 90th (2007), 5th (2006)
> Current world rank: 19th
> Insight: As indicated above, Rojas has had both good times and bad at Grand in the past. This event probably won't play to his greatest strengths (sight-fishing and throwing a frog), but he does some other things well, particularly around shallow cover. Based on the likely conditions, he won't be tabbed as one of the heavy favorites, but he's definitely a guy who could get into contention by finding something out of the ordinary.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Casey Scanlon -- Lenexa, Kan.
> Qualified through: Table Rock Lake Central Open winner
> Fished: 0 Classics
> Best Classic finish: N/A
> Elite Series finishes at Grand: N/A
> Current world rank: 228th
> Insight: Scanlon had a difficult rookie year on the Elite Series, but one glorious week in Missouri put him in the same place as the circuit's top point-getters – starting from scratch in the Classic. He'll be competing in his home region and thus has sufficient experience on big impoundments like Grand, but will be experiencing all of the Classic hoopla for the first time. A definite longshot.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Terry Scroggins -- Palatka, Fla.
> Qualified through: Elite Series points (3rd)
> Fished: 9 Classics
> Best Classic finish: 4th (2006)
> Elite Series finishes at Grand: 12th (2007), 39th (2006)
> Current world rank: 11th
> Insight: The 44-year-old Scroggins seems to get better as time wears on and he's undoubtedly one of the top anglers in the game who's never won a tour-level championship event or an Angler of the Year title. He's faltered in recent Classics, missing the cut in three of the past four, but "Big Show" retains his reputation as a major threat anytime the bright lights shine. Big, manmade impoundments aren't his forté, but he can never be counted out.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Jeremy Starks -- Charleston, WV
> Qualified through: Douglas Lake Elite Series winner
> Fished: 0 Classics
> Best Classic finish: N/A
> Elite Series finishes at Grand: 27th (2007), 63rd (2006)
> Current world rank: 172nd
> Insight: Starks is about as much of a hero-or-zero angler as exists on the Elite Series right now. He has two wins to his credit, but also a bundle of finishes in the 80s or below and he's never made the Classic via the AOY points in his 7 pro seasons. But if he finds what he's looking for, watch out! If that's to occur, it'll almost certainly have to happen in shallow water.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Gerald Swindle -- Warrior, Ala.
> Qualified through: Elite Series points (23rd)
> Fished: 9 Classics
> Best Classic finish: 3rd (2005)
> Elite Series finishes at Grand: 82nd (2007), 61st (2006)
> Current world rank: 38th
> Insight: Swindle has twice finished among the Top 5 in the Classic, but both of those occurred when it was still a summertime event. Since the transition to the winter, he hasn't fared better than 20th in six tries and he struggled at Grand in the two Elite Series stops. Needs a good finish one of these years to get some Classic buzz reattached to his name.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Jonathon VanDam -- Kalamazoo, Mich.
> Qualified through: Lake Michigan Elite Series winner
> Fished: 0 Classics
> Best Classic finish: N/A
> Elite Series finishes at Grand: N/A
> Current world rank: 98th
> Insight: This is a guy who's real dangerous when he pulls the right cards from the deck, but that hasn't happened often in his short pro career. He's an excitable sort and might be a bit overeager to make a splash in his initial appearance on the sport's biggest stage. His ability to exploit a good pattern for all its worth bodes well for future Classics, but it'd be somewhat surprising to see him contend this time.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Kevin VanDam -- Kalamazoo, Mich.
> Qualified through: Elite Series points (7th)
> Fished: 22 Classics
> Best Classic finish: 1st (2011, 2010, 2005, 2001)
> Elite Series finishes at Grand: 1st (2007), 22nd (2006)
> Current world rank: 7th
> Insight: A record-setting fifth Classic win seems inevitable for KVD, and there's certainly nothing that would point to him faring poorly in this one. If it's a jerkbait-fest, that's right in his wheelhouse. If it's any other type of bite, that'll suit him well enough, too, because of his great adaptability. His Classic ledger since 2001 – four victories and four other Top-5 finishes – is simply preposterous.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Joshua Wagy -- DeWitt, Va.
> Qualified through: James River Northern Open winner
> Fished: 0 Classics
> Best Classic finish: N/A
> Elite Series finishes at Grand: N/A
> Current world rank: N/A
> Insight: Wagy is an ace on the James and Potomac rivers, but that's no indication as to his ability (or lack thereof) to decipher a large lake with fish in the late-winter/pre-spawn phase. He used a topwater popper and a worm en route to winning the Northern Open at the James, but finished no better than 62nd in any of the other three events on the circuit. A decided longshot.

BassFan
Photo: BassFan

David Walker has back-to-back 3rd-place finishes on his Classic résumé, but those occurred when it was still a summertime event.

David Walker -- Sevierville, Tenn.
> Qualified through: Elite Series points (15th)
> Fished: 7 Classics
> Best Classic finish: 3rd (2002, 2001)
> Elite Series finishes at Grand: N/A
> Current world rank: 40th
> Insight: Walker returned to the Classic last year after a 5-year hiatus while he was an FLW-only pro and turned in a decent showing (13th). He's notched better placements in the event, but those occurred when the event was still held in the late summer. He was up and down during the second part of the 2012 Elite Series season, but he can make some noise whenever he can avoid pulling out a spinning rod.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Nate Wellman -- Newaygo, Mich.
> Qualified through: Elite Series points (17th)
> Fished: 0 Classics
> Best Classic finish: N/A
> Elite Series finishes at Grand: N/A
> Current world rank: 51st
> Insight: Wellman will make his Classic debut a year after sitting out the 2012 version while on suspension for the "fish-buying" conversations he had with his co-angler at the 2011 Erie Northern Open, which he won. With the exception of some money finishes in Florida, he hasn't fared particularly well in the late winter/spring over his 7-year pro career. His best showings usually come from April on.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Mark Dove – North Vernon, Ind.
> Qualified through: Federation (Northern)
> Classics fished: 1
> Best Classic finish: 26th (1997)
> Elite Series finishes at Grand: N/A
> Current world rank: N/A
> Insight: While it’s been 16 years since Dove’s first and only Classic appearance, this Ohio River hound is at his best when the conditions are tough. His victory in the Fed Nation championship at Wheeler Lake last fall should be evidence enough of that. He won’t be as awestruck this time around as he was at Logan Martin Lake back in ’97. Probably not a favorite, but certainly a threat to surprise some people.