TheOpenMat.com

TOMs 2010 Recruiting Class Rankings

Willie Saylor, Editor

When the dust settles from the NCAA Championships, fans turn their attention to the next crop of high school seniors that may one day fill out the line-ups for their respective teams. With most of the nations top prospects signed and the majority of college recruiting classes finalized, it’s time to take a look at just how each team fared.

In general there are three types of distinct classes: 1) the mass exodus class, in which a school has numerous kids graduating and is bringing in a large portion of what will make up their future line-up, 2) the reinforcement class, where there are some talented kids coming in, but who, until proven otherwise, will sit behind some of the elder statesman on the roster, and 3) the ‘need’ class, which is small, but studly and suits the teams immediate vacancies.


Of course, there is a bit of subjectivity in ranking each recruiting class. Some things we consider when evaluating each class other than talent and accomplishments are: team needs, potential to start/contribute, and, to some extent, the efficiency of using their scholarship allotment. For instance, we had Illinois ranked highly last year, and Oklahoma State this year although they brought in just a couple kids. But those wrestlers were of extremely high quality, and fit into their roster perfectly.

What gets lost in the sheer number of top talent coming in, is the line-up shuffle. Sure some kids may be ranked say, top 10 in the country, but they might be going to a program in which there are two proven kids around their weight. In such cases, their impact on a team could be minimal. As you’ll read below, this is the situation for a few teams this year, who are just as talented, if not more, than others ranked ahead of them. The dilemma: how much is a blue-chip recruit worth if he’s sitting behind a blue-chipper from a year ago?

You also should take into account who wasn’t signed. Of course it’s nice to have a bunch of talent come in, but if a particular team didn’t address an obvious need, why not? It doesn’t affect the class ranking (I’m not grading their ability to recruit) but it makes you wonder.

Certain schools have different approaches to recruiting. All the Virginia schools (UVA, VT, ODU) seem to wrangle as many kids as they can and see who pans out. A school like Illinois, on the other hand, generally only brings in a couple studs at a time.

In addition, I value those recruits that seem most stable; that provide fewer question marks and seem about as sure-fire as you can get. College wrestling is a different animal than high school. Lots of things can change, and do, including autonomy, desire, academic responsibilities, and competition level. In rating recruiting classes, sure things (or the closest things to them) gain a lot more points in my book than more general potential.

#1 Iowa (Last Year: 6th)
#1 Josh Dziewa (141) PA
#3 Jake Ballweg (141) IA
#11 Mike Kelly (157) IA
#2 Nick Moore (165) IA
#1 Mike Evans (174/184) PA
#2 Bobby Telford (HWT) DE
Anthony Baldosaro (149) NJ

What’s scarier than the Iowa Hawkeyes on a wrestling mat? Well, nothing. But the fact that they have the undisputed #1 recruiting class in the country might keep it that way.
Iowa loses an unimaginable 9 wrestlers that contributed greatly to their three-peat. If you include Montell Marion that number moves to ten, five of whom had reached the NCAA finals.

Credit Iowa for identifying (and securing) some of the top talent in the country. Mike Evans had perhaps the most impressive year of any high school wrestler. Josh Dziewa capped his high school career with an unbelievable run with titles at Fargo, Super32 (his second), a PA state title, and wins at the Dapper Dan and Dream Team.

Add to them in-state 4-timer Nick Moore and 3-timer Jake Ballweg, and one of the country’s top HWT’s, Bobby Telford, and you have the makings of a great potential line-up.

What’s best is, these guys fit in well to Iowa’s needs and plans. With the graduation of that many guys, Iowa spent their money wisely.

If there is a bone to pick with this class, you could say Iowa would have been served well grabbing a 197lber. And in retrospect, the disappointing senior season of NJ prospect Anthony Baldosaro might be cause for concern. But that’s grasping at straws of an otherwise stellar recruiting effort by the Hawkeye staff. And if anyone can get Baldosaro back on track, it’s Brands & Co.

Why they’re #1: Iowa brought in 5 guys in the top 3 and another (Baldosaro) that was #1 in the country to start the season. That’s more than half a potential line-up’s worth of top ranked kids in the country.

#2 Northwestern (LY: Unranked)
#2 Colin Shober (141) PA
#8 Kaleb Friedley (149) MO
#4 Lee Munster (184) IL
#4 Alex Polizzi (197) WI
#1 Mike McMullen (HWT) PA
Pierce Harger (157/165) OH

Northwestern plucks starting-caliber wrestlers at several weights, including the #1 ranked HWT in the land. And they’ll have to get to work early. Given their level of talent and the thin roster currently in Evanston, this group could get thrown into the Big Ten fire immediately.

Why they’re here: When you get half a line-up of guys that will almost certainly start in the Big Ten, all of whom are in the top 8 at their respective weight, you can’t ask for much more. That’s doing a heckuva job recruiting.

Why they’re not higher: Everyone has to fall in line behind Iowa this year.

#3 Penn State (LY: 5th)
#17 Frank Martellotti (133) PA
#1 Andrew Alton (141/149) PA
#15 Hank Stinson (149) NJ
#1 Dylan Alton (149/157) PA
#9 Dirk Cowburn (165) PA
Sam Sherlock (133) PA
Seth Beitz (133) PA
Nick Ruggear (197) PA

For the second straight recruiting year, the Nittany Lions bring two of the nation’s #1 prospects to campus. And for the second straight year, that number could be considered 3. Last year, #1’s David Taylor and Ed Ruth came to Happy Valley followed by Jake Kemerer when he decomitted from Oklahoma. Now they bring in the Alton twins and Sam Sherlock, who was ranked #1 in the country before tearing up his knee in the Beast of the East finals.

Dirk Cowburn, a former Fargo finalist and 3x PA state finalist, will enter a competitive race to start at 165, as will NJ state champ Hinson in the middleweights. Martellotti has been near the top of every tournament he’s entered in his high school career and will battle with Sherlock for time at 133.

Additionally, they bring in other very solid guys for depth. The Penn State roster is getting to the point where, like other top programs, you’ll have a fight on your hands everyday in practice, and, just to get into the line-up. That’s a good thing.

Why they’re here: Quantity and quality. The Alton brothers are two of the premier prospects in the country

Why they’re not higher: Recruiting Martelloti and Sherlock was essentially (at least for the short-term) recruiting for one weight. And will Sherlock return to form after injury? How does the Alton-Alton-Molinaro dilemma play out for (at least) the next two years? Will Cowburn start ahead of Kemerer?

These are good problems to have; problems of depth. The bottom line, for me, is relative certainty. Northwestern will almost certainly get utility out of all their guys in this class. Penn State’s group may have more up-side, but as good as they are, they’ll have to navigate through the depth in the room.

#4 Cornell (LY: 8th)
#2 Chris Villalonga (149) NJ
#12 Jesse Shanaman (157) NJ
#1 Marshall Peppelman (165) PA
#12 Billy George (184/197) NJ
#15 Evan Knight (184/197) IA
Ryan Dunphy (149) NJ
Matt Cunningham (184) PA
Jace Bennett (197) TX

The Big Red landed two major studs in Villalonga and Peppelman. Both had outstanding careers and possess mat skills that indicate a successful transition to college. These two will no doubt pay dividends in the Cornell line-up for a long time.

Behind them is a group of very talented and accomplished wrestlers. The Big Red wrestling room just keeps getting deeper and deeper.

Why they’re here: The way the classes developed, I’d consider Cornell Top 5 on Villalonga and Peppelman alone. Consider that these two are DI-ready now, and that they will fit perfectly into Cornell’s line-up next season in a very serious push for a national title. Then add to that Knight, George, Shanaman, etc, and you can see where this class’s impact is both immediate and lasting.

Why they’re not higher: Penn State and Cornell have very similar classes this year with two bona fide studs with legitimate talent surrounding them. At this point, the PSU contingent behind the Altons seems a bit more deep than those behind Pep and V.

#5 Minnesota (LY: 4th )
#15 Seth Lange (133) SD
#13 Chris Dardanes (133) IL
#3 Nick Dardanes (141) IL
#3 Dylan Ness (149) MN
#6 Tyler Lehman (184) ND
#5 Scott Schiller (197) ND
Joel Bauman (197) MN

The Gophers continue to stockpile talent. It seems they are annually among the top-rated squads when it comes to recruiting. That being the case, there are questions on where several of these guys will fit in. They’ll have to prove themselves.

Nick Dardanes and Dylan Ness seem like sure things and figure to anchor the middle of the line-up in the future.

Why they’re here: Four recruits ranked 6th or better and six in the top 15. JRob and staff did a good job identifying needs. They get their heir-apparents in the middle and some much need help at 197, a weight which, for the Gophers, things never seem to go according to plan.

Why they’re not higher: It’s difficult to be much higher considering what’s in front of them. Because they bring in quality classes every year, 5th isn’t much to be upset about. In totality, the talent coming into the Gopher room might be greater than that of Cornell. But Cornell has two studs with pre-defined roles. With Minny, you have David Thorn coming off redshirt at 133 (where two or even three of these recruits are slated) and Danny Zilverberg and/or Jake Deitchler ahead of Dylan Ness initially. Overall, I love the class, but the details will have to work themselves out. One caveat: they’ll soon need to bring someone in to groom behind Sanders at 125.

#6 Iowa State (LY: Honorable Mention)
#1 Ryak Finch (125) AZ
#19 Luke Goettl (141) AZ
#4 Joey Cozart (157) FL
#5 Mike Moreno (174) IA
#15 Mikey England (184) IA
#8 Kyven Gadsen (197) IA
Brandon Jones (125) IA

Coach Jackson had some money to play with in his first full recruiting cycle. Like Iowa, ISU has several mainstays of their line-up graduating and subsequently freeing up scholarship money.

If you’re a Cyclone fan, you have to love this class. Finch is a career 125lber, a rarity these days. The 2009 Double Fargo Champ will get ISU off to a good start for the next 4 or 5 years.

One of my personal favorites of this class is Kyven Gadsen, who flies a bit under-the-radar. He has all the tools and a work ethic to boot. Under Jackson’s tutelage, the sky’s the limit for him.

Why they’re here: The Cyclones grabbed six Top 20 kids, including #1Finch. ISU’s recruits are spread out across all weights. Very comparable to Northwestern’s incoming class and situation. I expect almost all of these kids to be in the starting line-up relatively early in their careers.

Why they’re not higher: This class certainly has all the ingredients for success. But many of them will be called on fresh out of high school, and I think, initially, they’ll take some lumps. More so than, say, the group headed to Northwestern.

#7 Arizona State (LY: Unranked)
#5 Louis Trujillo (133/141), NM
#8 Nathan Hoffer (141/149), AK
#5 Joel Smith (149) GA
#10 Tommy Burriel (184/197) CA
Shane McGough (125) AZ
Derek Felton (174) AZ
Bobby Bowman (174/184), MD
Bubba Jenkins (149/157) VA (Penn St.)
Luke Macchiaroli (197) AZ (Penn St.)

This could prove to be a dream class for ASU. Several highly accomplished high school wrestlers and Macchiaroli, who still has 4 years of eligibility left, come to Tempe.

Trujillo won 3 NHSCA titles. Hoffer and Smith were both finalists.

Tommy Burriel is a wrestler to really keep an eye on. His only loss in the state tournament this year was a 1pt. decision in the finals to Morgan McIntosh.

Bowman was a National Prep finalist, and McGough, a Fargo placer.

Why they’re here: In terms of style, the three guys brought in for 33 through 49 couldn’t be more different: Trujillo a brawler, Hoffer a motor, and Smith pure athleticism. The thing they have in common is talent and a penchant for winning. Here’s that word again, but ‘if’ they put in the time, this class could put Arizona State back on the map as a dominant western program. Like Northwestern and ISU, the ASU program figures to get a ton of miles out of this group.

Why they’re not higher: Most years, they probably would be higher. But with a few teams experiencing high turnover, and in effect replenishing half their team, ASU sits at #7. You should figure each of these guys (outside of Bubba) to start for the Sun Devils for several years. The good thing for this class: the way their roster is set up, most of them will be afforded the luxury of a redshirt year, before the majority of them get in the line-up in 2011.

#8 Ohio State (LY: 11th)
#1 Logan Steiber (125) OH
#9 Josh Demas (174) OH
Tyrell Fortune (HWT) OR (Clackamas, JUCO)

Talk about can’t-miss. Logan Steiber is the consensus #1 overall recruit. Competing at 121.5 in Senior-Level events, Steiber should be the spark-plug that gets the Buckeyes going for the next four years. I don’t say this often, if ever, but you’d have to consider Steiber an All-American, if not finalist, contented immediately.

While the Buckeyes may only receive the services of Fortune, who was a JUCO Champion, for an abbreviated period, he’s by all accounts legitimate and will make an immediate impact.

Josh Demas is a kid that flies a bit under the radar. But he’s athletic and has all the tools. With the coaching he’ll receive in Columbus, his ceiling is extremely high and belies his #9 ranking. His only loss in his senior campaign occurred in the Ironman semi’s in a one-takedown bout with standout Nick Sulzer.

Why they’re here: Talk to college coaches and they’ll tell you the toughest thing in recruiting is finding career 125lbers and DI-ready heavyweights. Coach Ryan nabbed both in one class, and the best available, to boot.

Why they’re not higher: Simply on volume. If you talk efficiency, tOSU scores perfect. Although, this class could have been monster. The Buckeyes missed on potential recruits Mike Evans and Marshall Peppelman, and Derek Garcia deferred enrolling until next season. That would have given tOSU 4 #1’s and Fortune. But that’s water under the bridge. As it stands, the Buckeyes got themselves an outstanding class and Garcia in the fold for 2011.

#9 Oklahoma (LY: 2nd )
#8 Justin DeAngelis (149) OK
#20 Matt White (157/165) OK
#12 Parker Madl (165) KS
#8 Ronnie Balfour (165/174) OK
#18 Kyle Colling (197/HWT) NY
#12 Qunicy Mondaine (197/HWT) OK
Ian Fisher (133) OK
Chase Nelson (157) KS (Labette CC)

I love what the Sooners did with this class. After a stellar crop of light and middle weights came in last year, the Oklahoma staff concentrated on the back half of their line-up. Their individual rankings are on the bottom side of the Top 20, due in some part, to less national exposure. But, they’re all talented and accomplished.

Why they’re here: They have six guys ranked in the Top 20. Most of them are raw and unpolished kids who should improve greatly under Spates and Henson. In my opinion, you’re looking at a few future All-Americans in this class. They’re prospects in the same vein as last year’s Tyler Caldwell.

Why they’re not higher: Like I said: ‘raw and unpolished’. It’s one reason they aren’t ranked higher individually. They have work to do to get there. But the coaches certainly have a good bunch to work with.

#10 Nebraska (LY: 3rd)
#3 Keith Surber (133) IL
#11 Greg Amos (149) MO
#6 Brandon Wilborn (157) MO
#5 Robert Kokesh (165) SD
#20 Matt Dwyer (197) IL
Brandon Rubino (125) IL
Chad Stroh (141) CO
Dakota McGrew (174) MO

For the second straight year, Nebraska-bound wrestlers tore it up at Senior Nationals. Last year it was CJ Napier and Cody Compton winning titles. This year Huskers-to-be made three finals appearances at NHSCA’s, winning two titles, a runner-up, a 3rd, and a 5th.

Keith Surber rallied up the rankings. He finished 3rd in our final list, but had a claim to the #1 spot after beating the incumbent, Frank Cagnina, at the Dream Team Classic. He should fit into the line-up nicely from the get-go, between David Klingsheim and Napier, who is reportedly moving up to 141.

I had the opportunity to see Brandon Wilborn twice this season. As luck would have it, it occurred at the first (Super32) and last (Sr. Nationals) events of the season. No high school wrestler in the entire country improved so much over the course of one season. Which is saying something, because he wasn’t too shabby at Super32’s to begin with.

Why they’re here: Of the weights they identified as needs, three of their recruits were in the top 6 in the country, two others in the top 20. Along with last year’s class, Nebraska has put together a team to contend going forward. They also have brought in quality depth both last season and this season. The unranked guys listed are all state champions.

Why they’re not higher: I’m not sure how ready some of these guys are to compete right away. Surber and Wilborn, probably. And maybe Kokesh. The others may need a season or two of preparation. I know the Nebraska’s rankings are higher, but all things considered, The Sooners probably get more Varsity years out of their group than this Husker class.

#11 Maryland (LY: Honorable Mention)
#6 Frank Goodwin (133) MD
#4 Mark Hartenstine (141/149) PA
#7 Ben Dorsay (149/157) VA
#1 Spencer Myers (HWT) PA
Jenkins Monzey, (125) MD
Kenny Collado (125) NY
Shane Gentry (125/133) VA (Prep Transfer)

Gentry enjoyed a fine career at Colonial Forge and ended the 2009 season on our Top Prospect list. After a season at Navy Prep, he’s on board the Terp train.

With him in the fold coaches McCoy and Beckerman are bringing what should be a significant portion of the line-up to campus in one class.

Dorsay was the Beast Champ. Goodwin, who had a fairly uneventful season was a Fargo AA last summer.

Spencer Myers won the Dapper Dan match ousting then-#1 Trevor Rupp in one of the few PA victories. He seems to be a perfect fit for Coach McCoy to work with; a long, lean, athletic heavyweight.

Hartenstine has placed in nearly all the major national tournaments. He brings an odd set of talents to College Park, in that he’s more proficient on the mat than in neutral. If he can work on his leg defense, he could be an immediate impact. He placed at last year’s East Stroudsburg Open.

Why they’re here: This is your blue-collar class of the year. Think of a ‘high floor’; the risk of these guys experiencing a hiccup is minimal as they’re all hard-working, character guys. Those ranked (and Gentry) should be serviceable from the start.

Why they’re not higher: Maryland gets a fine base to work with. But they’re not flashy. Expecting immediate AA status from any of these guys might be a stretch. They could post good records and be competitive in the ACC. But how many matches they win at NCAA’s will be determined on their work and their development.

#12 Indiana (LY: 23rd )
#13 Zach Zimmer (125) CA
#6 Brandon Wright (125/133) IN
#11 Joe Duca (125/133) NJ
#2 Ryen Nieman (141) MI
#6 Taylor Walsh (149) PA
#18 Preston Keiffer (165) NJ
Brian St. James (125) GA

Aided by Asst. Joe Dubuque’s New Jersey connection, the Hoosiers are bringing in a banner class. All seven of the recruits listed were state finalists in this season, including Duca, Nieman, and Walsh, who won’t multiple titles.

Why they’re here: It’s a whole lotta talent. Several of them are lightweights, which Indiana has had recent success with. And most of them will probably be able to take a redshirt year and develop before they collectively pose a nice core in 2011.

Why they’re not higher: Three guys at two spots at the lightweights + incumbent starter Matt Ortega on the roster, which, without a weight increase for several guys, will make one of them expendable. Taylor Walsh, though he always seems to win, has quite an unconventional style. Can it be effective on the next level?

#13 Oklahoma State (LY: 1st )
#1 Josh Kindig (141/149) PA
#2 Nick Schenk (133/141) DE

Like Cornell’s class, without the accompaniment, The Pokes collected what could be the two missing pieces to round out their chances for the very near future.
The Cowboys are young and talented and have everything put in place outside of the flexibility in the lighter weights. Should Schenk and Kindig not be needed for 2010, they can redshirt and get ready for 2011 when Albert White moves on.

Either way the Cowboy staff did an excellent job at identifying needs and patching holes with phenomenal talent. Again, an ‘A’ for efficiency here.

Why they’re here: Two of the top prep wrestlers for two desperately needed weight classes.

Why they’re not higher: Because there’s just two of them, and because neither may be needed for a year. After last year’s #1 recruiting haul, this is all they needed.

#14 Lehigh (LY: 17th )
#1 Frank Cagnina (133/141) NJ
#9 Steve Dutton (141/149) NY
#13 Anthony Salupo (149/157) OH
#6 Eric Hess (165) PA

For Head Coach Pat Santoro and Asst’s Dillon and Hughes, priority #1 (and 2) this recruiting cycle was getting replacements for 4-year starters Matt Fisk and Seth Ciasulli. They did just that with the additions of Cagnina and Dutton, two kids who’ve wrestled at a high level nationally.

Why they’re here: With the mid-to-upper weights set, 33 and 41 were the only pressing needs. And the Mountain Hawks settled that in a big way. Hess has shown the ability to wrestle with the best in the country.

Why they’re not higher: A few reasons. 1) The small size of the class. 2) The number of guys they already have on the roster from 149 thru 165. 3) Eric Hess’ health. Let’s all hope he makes a solid recovery.

#15 Virginia Tech (LY: 18th)
#5 Ty Mitch (125) OH
#3 Devin Carter (125/133) VA
#9 Harrison Hightower (157) OH
T.J. Mitchell (125/133) GA
Chris Moon (157/165) VA
Tanner Eitel (174) TX
Angelo Malvestuto (197) NY

To say that VT is focusing on lightweights would be an understatement. They have 5 guys at 133 or less on their roster, picked up three more in this class, and are rumored to have a transfer coming in at this weight as well.

You can’t deny their ability. Carter and Mitch have been wrestling all over the country at a high level for years. T.J. Mitchell, after an up-and-down season that saw him reach the Midwest Classic Finals and DNP at POWERade, won Senior Nationals in impressive fashion.

Why they’re here: Top shelf talent and some solid kids mixed in. Overall, it’s a talented class that should be very competitive in the future for the Hokies.

Why they’re not higher: The unranked kids have all had big wins, but have had trouble with consistency. The lightweights are their obvious strength, but with Jarrod Garnett, Erik Spjut, Brock Livorio, and Chris Diaz already on the roster, where and when are they going to fit in?

#16 Edinboro (LY: Unranked)
#2 Mitchell Port (125/133) PA
#6 A.J. Schopp (133/141) PA
#15 David Habat (157) OH
Kory Mines (125) OH
Nate Gaffney (197/HWT) PA

The Scots put together a very solid class. Port and Schopp, both 4x state placers in PA, really shined this season, capping their careers with state titles.

Mines and Habat enjoyed fantastic prep careers in one of the toughest states in the country.

Why they’re here: Port and Schopp should be mainstays of the line-up for years to come. And, under the tutelage of Coach Flynn and company, who show a tremendous ability to develop kids, the others could as well. They all have the talent to be DI starters.

Why they’re not higher: Gaffney. A year ago, he beat now #1 Spencer Myers in the state finals, and then again in the state FS finals. Gaffney’s stock was soaring. But a disappointing season (especially the DNP performance at Hershey) raised serious questions. If Gaffney gets back on track, you’re possibly looking at half a line-ups worth of starters for a prominent DI team, all in one recruiting class. In which case, this ranking is way too low.

#17 Virginia (LY: 9th)
#14 Gus Sako (133) OH
#16 Joe Spisak (133/141) PA
#4 Nick Sulzer (165) OH
#19 Derek Papagianopoulis (HWT) MA
Bryan Whitt (125) VA
Tanner Moon (125) AL
Tanner Hirstine (157) CO
Billy Coggins (174) NY

If anyone knows of a sportsbook in Vegas to put a little wager on future All-Americans, drop me a line. I’d love to put some dough on Sulzer. He’s an outright stud with a good attitude.

The Cavaliers class is comparable to the Hokies, with a better spread of talent around all weight classes. Everyone on their list was a state champion this year other than Papa, who was 4th in a deep National Prep HWT field.

Why they’re here: One stud and a troop of very solid kids that could be the bulk of the line-up for years to come.

Why they’re not higher: This class may actually pay more dividends toward their team’s success compared to VT’s. However, the Hokies frontline recruits are more credentialed and, in my opinion, have the talent to be All-Americans sooner than these Cavs.

#18 Illinois (LY: 13th)
#11 Jamie Clark (133)
#3 Jackson Morse (157)
Jed Lightfoot (141)

This class is a bit of a head-scratcher. Not the talent. But the numbers. I like Coach Heffernan’s approach, which seems to be plucking absolute studs and avoiding a room full of ‘average’ recruits. He certainly doesn’t waste schollies on ‘fluff’, which is absolutely critical in today’s collegiate climate.

But last year, Illinois signed just two guys (Sammy White, Tony Dallago). They graduated John Dergo and Patrick Bond, and the state of Illinois is producing a bumper crop of high school talent. I anticipated them signing more. The process of only taking elite guys could be genius. I’m just not sure I understand why they didn’t grab additional guys in this cycle. Four recruits in two years is odd.

Why they’re here: Illinois got an absolute hammer in Jackson Morse. If Clark can regain his old form, the Illini will have done another efficient job using limited scholarships.

Why they’re not higher: When Jamie Clark walked off the mat as a junior, the sky was the limit for him. He was then a consensus #1 wrestler, a prize recruit, and an Ohio legend. But after shoulder surgery and a thigh injury kept him out of action all summer and into his senior season, questions emerged. He was eventually able to get back on the mat and win his third state title. But it was obvious he wasn’t himself. At this time last year, I would have ranked a Morse-Clark class higher. At its full potential, it rivals Kindig-Schenk and Steiber-Demas.

#19 Northern Iowa (LY: Unranked)
#5 Levi Wolfensberger (133) IA
#8 Joe Latham (165) SD
#16 Brock Weatherman (174) IA
Seth Noble (141/149) IA

While the Head Coaching position is still to be decided, the talent going to Northern Iowa isn’t. Four quality wrestlers will head to Cedar Falls.

Wolfensberger and Latham were both state champions and Senior National Runners-Up.

Weatherman and Noble were two-time champs, three time finalists in Iowa.

Why they’re here: There’s a lot of upside with these recruits and all the potential in the world with the ability to move right in and contend for a starting spot. Don’t be surprised to see Wolfensberger and Latham reach the Big Dance in their freshman campaigns.

Why they’re not higher: This group could prove its mettle. But Weatherman and Noble have limited national results. Overall, an awesome contingent headed to UNI.

#20 Penn (LY: Unranked)
#7 Andrew Lenzi (141) NY
#17 Brad Wukie (165) OH
#3 Kyle Cowan (HWT) OK
Canaan Bethea (174) NJ

Coach Eiter did a wonderfully efficient job with this class. All four recruits are state finalists.

Lenzi comes in as one of New York’s most impressive seniors. Wukie flew under the radar with the abundant talent coming out of Ohio this year, but his runner-up finish at Ironman and his state title attest to his ability.

Kyle Cowan never lost a match in high school. Bethea was a runner-up in New Jersey. With the talent in that state, and a single class system, that doesn’t happen by accident.

Why they’re here: Grabbing Cowan late was huge. Quality big men with Ivy League transcripts are a rarity. It’s an efficient use of four roster spots. Count on seeing all four in the Quaker line-up.

Why they’re not higher: National results, which are few and far between in this group. Lenzi and Bethea have placed at NHSCA’s. But, Wukie doesn’t have much national caliber results. And, to my knowledge, Cowan has never wrestled a match outside of his home state. That doesn’t mean they won’t be terrific. Just that, in the grand scheme of things, this group is a bit unproven compared to others.

#21 Binghamton (LY: Unranked)
#2 Tyler Beckwith (174/184)
#8 Lance Moore (HWT)
Nick Meinsen (141)

There’s no two ways around it: Tyler Beckwith is a stud. And at Binghamton he’s in a perfect training environment. He’s one of the very few kids I think pundits could agree that they have few if any reservations about. Watch for him to challenge for AA honors immediately.

Lance Moore has proven to be amongst the nation’s elite big men. In ’09 he placed 3rd in the PA state tournament before moving to New York and winning a title. Shortly after, he gave New Jersey’s 3x state champion, Jimmy Lawson all he could handle in the NHSCA Senior National Final.

Why they’re here: Surety. Beckwith should be a winner from the get-go. Moore should be very competitive in conference and eventually win matches at NCAA’s. Meinsen is a solid prospect.

Why they’re not higher: Numbers. It’s a small class. Other schools might have a leg up in volume of talent. It’s a balancing act between stud AA candidates and line-up productivity, which those ahead of them seem to have a bit more promise of.

#22 Missouri (LY: 20th)
#4 Alan Waters (125) MO
#16 Simon Kitzis (141) PA
#16 Drake Houdashelt (157) MO
Efrain Aguilar (125) WA
Chase Nitcher (149) KS
Johnny Eblen (197) MO
Dan Gonsor (157) OH (U of Virginia)

Missouri brings a talented class to Columbus. Several of these kids have significant national-level awards. The gem is lightweight Alan Waters, a 4x State Champion who made several Fargo National Finals appearances.

Kitzis has long been competitive. He’s been a Fargo All-American, a Beast Champ, and an Ironman Finalist. Houdashelt has won his state tournament and appeared in NHSCA’s Jr. National finals.

This is a tough class to handicap. Waters and Eblen should have the opportunity to start rather quickly. But the others might have to fight through the pecking order. Aguilar and Kitzis had some unexpected losses this year. And Nitcher has little national credentials.

Why they’re here: Because of Waters, and on the potential the staff can work with. Eblen becomes the heir apparent to a long-line of successful Tiger upperweights.

Why they’re not higher: There’s not much certainty. If any of these guys fails to AA (outside of Waters) it wouldn’t be that shocking. While Houdashelt is certainly talented, he’ll have Zach Toal, and several 157’s (including Gonsor) on the current roster to contend with just to get in the line-up. Similar situation for Kitzis behind Bouonus/McCormick.

#23 Michigan State (LY: Honorable Mention)
#11 Sean McMurray (157) IN
#19 Nick Proctor (165/174) IL
#7 Nick McDiarmid (197/HWT) MI
Nick Humes (149) MI
John Rizgallah (184) MI
Kamron Jackson (197) MI (N. Idaho)

Sean McMurray’s ranking may be a bit misleading. He was perhaps the most dominant and versatile (he wrestled many weights) in a Hoosier state that produced an excellent class of seniors.

Proctor had a bit of a misstep in state finals but had an otherwise outstanding career. He won what was probably considered the deepest bracket at the Illinois state tournament his junior season and was a Fargo All-American.

McDiarmid won multiple state titles and this year’s Senior National crown.

In addition, they get two-time Michigan state champion, Jackson, who placed 3rd at this year’s Junior College National Championships.

Why they’re here: A lot of quality talent. I also like the flexibility the three ranked kids have. They have shown the ability to move up and down the line-up and be successful, a trait that could come in handy for Coach Minkel, and to get them on the mat quicker.

Why they’re not higher: This group will definitely be productive. They’ll be on the mat and winning matches for the Spartans. How far will they go on the national scene is a bit of a question, and as in most cases in recruiting, will be determined upon their development. It’s a class much like Missouri’s except that the MSU guys will have a better opportunity to get in the line-up early.

#24 Rutgers (LY: Honorable Mention)
#18 Jordan Beverly (149) NJ
#10 Nick Visicaro (165) NJ
#12 Anthony Volpe (165) NY
Mike Wagner (197) NJ

The Good: Rutgers is getting four outstanding recruits. All were state finalists. In addition Beverly made the finals of Super32’s and Sr. Nationals. Visicaro was a 2x State Champ and Fargo AA. Volpe won a state title and placed at NHSCA’s all four years. Wagner’s singular loss this season came in the state finals to Campolattano.

The Bad: Their class could have been scary. Joe Duca decided to go to Indiana. Dziewa to Iowa. Meinsen to Binghamton. And Lawson to Monmouth for football.

The Ugly: Rutgers fans are known to be overzealous and display a taking-over-the-world attitude. But it really could get ugly for Rutgers opponents in the future. If Rutgers is pulling classes like this and are still disappointed, it’s probably a good sign.

Why they’re here: There’s no fluff in this class. All four wrestlers are solid and should be productive in their careers.

Why they’re not higher: Another sign that Rutgers truly is on the rise: some of these kids will fight to simply get in the line-up. It could take a year or more for some of them to find their spot, possibly limiting how much they get out of these four.

#25 Boise State (LY: 19th)
#14 Carson Kuhn (125) UT
#18 Kade Moss (133/141) UT
#7 Stephen Hernandez (157) NV
Deron Winn (174) MO (Meramec CC)

Boise brings in an efficient class with four accomplished kids coming on board.

Kuhn has medaled multiple times at Fargo and recently won Western Regionals. He figures to be a career 125lber.

Moss, a 4x Utah state champion also won Western Regionals last weekend. He was just shy of placing in both styles at Fargo last year.

Hernandez has placed at all major national tournaments including NHSCA’s, Fargo, Reno, and the Ironman.

Deron Winn had an outstanding career as a Missouri prep athlete and brings college experience, as he won a JUCO title last season.

Why they’re here: Winn is ready to go now. And Hernandez has the physical maturity to do so as well. These guys are both built for the rigors of the DI grind.

Why they’re not higher: Expectations for Moss and Kuhn should be tempered. It may take them a few seasons to develop. Also, as solid as Hernandez and Winn are, they may have limited upside. Winn is a two-year rental. And Hernandez is a stationary, defensive wrestler. One of Coach Randall’s jobs will be getting him more offensive at the next level.

Honorable Mention:

Cal Poly: #12 Tucker Armstrong (141) OH, #13 Drew Meulman (HWT) CA, Jesse Delgado (133) CA, Dominic Kastl (165) CA, Travis Gallegos (174) CA

Navy: #18 Pat Prada (133) MD, #10 Colton Rasche (133/141) IL, Justis Flamio (125) NY, Joe Locksmith (141) FL

UNC: #11Andre Petroski (174/184) PA, #13Antonio Giorgio (184/197) PA, Pat Owens (133) PA, Nick Heilman (141) NJ, Corey Mock (149/157) NC,

Bucknell: #10 Jordan Rich (141) PA, #18 Stephen McPeek (184) TX, Alex Pelliciotti (133) PA, Jamie Westwood, (174) NJ, Austin Fallon (197) VA

Pitt: #16 Jordan Moss (157) PA, #5 Max Thomousseit (197) OH, Erik Galloway (141) PA, Ty Wilps (184) PA