2012 College Wrestling Recruiting Class Rankings

General Notes On Evaluating Classes

  • Some years the talent comes in bunches. Other years, classes are thin with talent. Like the monster 141 crop last year, that means the 141 crop from some previous year proved less stellar. It happens like that. Just because they are the 10 best this year (or thought to be) doesn’t mean they will have any sort of proportional impact as the previous five classes.
  • Give me studs! I value the crème de la crème. While every graduating class contains prospects that prove success that I slept on, the vast majority of your college AA’s were identified by the time they were HS seniors. I value quality over quantity. Ten mid-tier college prospects will invariably beget a sub-par college line-up.
  • The number next to the name may be deceiving. Rankings are largely what they’ve earned in high school, not what I (or college coaches) perceive their college potential to be. There are some kids ranked in the top five that I’m frankly not high on going forward. There are others in the double digits that I have big expectations for. In the end, sometimes the individual numbers don’t jive with the collective team rankings.
  • I like classes that make sense. Sometimes the constituents of a class should equal a higher ranking than I give them. (See: Minnesota). Sometimes I rank a small(er) class higher than one would anticipate. (See: Ohio State). I value fecund and economical classes, which often blurs the line of sum : parts. Overall, and all things considered, I look at the likelihood of the recruits actually getting into the line-up to differentiate otherwise equal classes.

2012-Specific Notes

  • Evaluating the collective class of 2012, and in comparison to recent years, this crop appears to lack immediate impact types. Sure there are some. Maybe your Taylor Massa’s and Jordan Rogers’ and Jason Tsirtis’. But they’re a rarity. While there is certainly depth, it comes in ‘prospect’ form. As much as anyone likes to think they know how recruits will pan out, ‘sure things’ are few and far between this year; the value of the following harvests will be determined not in 2013, but down the road, after many redshirt seasons, and as development (or lack thereof) dictates.
  • There are a larger number of post-grads and grey-shirts this year. Because we were in an Olympic cycle, there are several studs who deferred their eligibility. Destin McCauley, Nathan Burak, and Jesse Thielke all graduated in 2011, but factor in to recruiting rankings now. There’s a significant number of transfers to be calculated too. The more years of eligibility remaining, the more value they add to their new team’s class ranking.
  • This is the first year I’ve done the flashback feature. In going back and examining previous classes, it’s incredible to see the turnover. Almost unilaterally, ever program has been plagued with ‘misses’. There is a good percentage of recruits from the previous two or three classes that are not on respective rosters any longer. It highlights just how inexact a science recruiting is.

I don’t think it’s an issue of a wrong evaluation; generally speaking, the kids highly coveted by college coaches and highly ranked by scouts like myself were properly identified. In the vast majority of cases the kids that left programs did so not because of a lack of talent but because of burn out, character, work ethic, grades, etc…

#1 – Iowa Hawkeyes

Three Year Cycle: #22, #1, #6

  • PG-Nathan Burak, CO (197)
  • #3-Nate Skonieczny, OH (141)
  • #4-Sam Brooks, IL (184/197)
  • #5-Thomas Gilman, NE (133)
  • #5-Alex Meyer, IA (174)
  • #7-Corey Clark, IA (125)

Others: Topher Carton, IA (133); Connor Ryan, IA (141); Isaac Lundgren, IA (141)

Class Overview

With five Top 7 kids and another that would be had he not been in a greyshirt year, the Brands brothers  put together a fantastic class. Unlike a lot of other schools, Iowa doesn’t just chase rankings, but nabs talent that fits their demeanor. Every one of these kids can be described as blue-collar brawlers. For the second time in three years, the Hawkeyes get our nod for the nation’s top class.

Why they’re here

Burak had a great Fargo last summer and has trained at the OTC the last year. He gets big points as an immediate impact guy in a weight that hurt the 23-time National Champs last year. In some permutation, Gilman-Clark/Clark-Gilman, are the future lead-off batters for Iowa. To grab both supreme talents like this in the same class is outstanding.
Burak will step in to a starting spot this year, while Clark/Gilman, and Brooks will almost assuredly be in the line-up the following year. That’s filling 30-40% of the toughest line-up to crack in America with four-year starters in a single class. One heck of a recruiting job.


It’s difficult to find any downside to this class as the Brands Bros. addressed needs with impeccable athletes and proper timing. One thing that stands out is the odd circumstances that surround 149. Iowa hasn’t quite been able to figure out that weight class since the incomparable Metcalf. What’s their answer here? They didn’t address it in this class, lending to the theory that A) they’re confident in Dziewa and/or Ballweg or B) they’re earmarking Skonieczny for this spot. On one hand, it would have been nice to see them more clearly address 49, on the other, there really wasn’t a can’t-miss, immediate impact guy at this weight outside of Jason Tsirtsis. In the end, we’re nit-picking here.


The #1 Class of 2010 has produced two regular starters (Evans and Telford). Dziewa and Ballweg will most likely be in the line-up this year, meaning (potentially) the constituents of the last two #1 Iowa classes will comprise 7 or 8 of the 10 starters for ’13-’14 on a team that will almost assuredly contend for a title. Great work.

Below is a list of the top 10 teams. To view the full 28 page breakdown and all 25 teams join Recruiting Central today, yearly and monthly subscriptions are available.

#2 – Lehigh
#3 – Cornell
#4 – Oklahoma State
#5 – Michigan
#6 – Oklahoma
#7 – Illinois
#8 – Wisconsin
#9 – Ohio State
#10 – Iowa State

Read more …