Feature Articles

TOM 2011 College Wrestling Recruiting Class Rankings

Willie Saylor, Editor

With the early signing period come and gone, we turn our attention to the top incoming classes of talent for next year.

There are a number of highly coveted prospects with their college plans still up in the air, and we’ll feature them in an upcoming ‘best available’ segment. But the vast majority of elite recruits are off the board and ready to matriculate to their schools of choice.

And we’re ready to handicap them!

This year leading storyline, as recruiting wars go, is marked by big classes at the top. Every season, or recruiting year, there are a few typical ‘templates’ of incoming cohorts, in unofficial nomenclature:

1. The Monster Class- where a school has a significant amount of scholarship money available and is able to accumulate the crème de la crème of graduating talent. An example? See Iowa’s class last year.

2. The Perfect Storm- a veritable mix of bona fide studs peppered with other less-heralded talent that could prove to be stars at the next level.

3. The Small but Spectacular- a class that is short on quantity, but includes two or more phenoms.

4. The ‘Truckload’- where a school was able to sign a plethora of mid-tier recruits. Like all recruiting classes, some individuals will sparkle and some will fade amidst the demands of Division I wrestling. But classes like this often give the program stability and result in unforeseen gems. In recent years, many ACC schools have taken this approach.

 Of course there is a great deal of subjectivity in any rankings, and perhaps more so in ranking an entire class. College coaches are pressured with maximizing productivity out of each dollar they spend. As such, part of my assessment is based on recruiting efficacy; when deciding between a tier of classes, I’ll often side with the group that appears to have more utility to their program.

For instance, what good does a highly ranked 125lber do to a program with young successful starters at 125 and 133? This may, in my perspective, diminish the value of a certain signee.

In this regard, we’re talking the finer points of differentiating classes. In a much broader sense, recruiting classes are defined by ‘can’t miss’ talents. And beyond simply their prowess on the mat, their stock is augmented by their character. Getting good grades, staying out of trouble, and maintaining a work ethic requisite for DI wrestling, all help in actuality and in my assessment here.

How do I know a prospect will satisfy the above criteria?

I don’t. Each and every year there are kids that defy expectations, or surpass them. All anyone can do is take the information they have; the notes on character and work ethic, the long history of performance, and project that to remain status quo.

In the end it’s stability in a prospect, both on and off the mat, that makes a ‘can’t miss’ precisely that.

 Class of 2011 Trends

It appears to be a ‘thinner’ year than the last two previous classes, where even the Honorable Mention hauls had multiple ranked kids. This year, one ranked kid and a few ‘back end’ athletes can get you in the Top 25.


Maybe because last year’s class was so darn tough. In 2010 power states such as PA, NJ, OH, and CA graduate monster senior classes. And while CA has another good crop and Illinois heavily supports the national class, the seniors in New York and Iowa were a bit down this year in terms of elite recruits.

Another corollary issue is how much money schools have available for this cycle. Most of the recruiting hauls are rather small due to what was mentioned above, and the fact that many schools used a good deal of money on last year’s class (see Iowa and Iowa State).

Additionally, there are three groups that may have weakened the overall quality of classes this year: 1) the nearly dozen kids who were, at some point, ranked that have signed with non-DI programs, 2) the half dozen or so ranked wrestlers that signed on to play football, and 3) the nearly three dozen wrestlers, who were ranked at some point, who have not made any such college decisions despite signing period coming and going.

In all reality, and this might be scary should it become a trend, many non-DI schools secured rather impressive classes. It could be the beginning of a trend where we see increased financial support from the DII’s and NAIA’s luring wrestlers to their campuses. For instance, the cohorts headed to JUCO at Clackamas, and DII at Notre Dame are very, very nice. Maybe it’s a grade thing? Or it could be just a one-year blip.

On the plus side for Division I, the dearth of scholarship, and perhaps the fear of pulling the trigger, has turned out nicely for what is largely considered the ‘next-tier’ programs. Utah Valley, Ohio University, and Buffalo all landed a windfall of talent. And thank god Brown was granted a stay of execution; they have a very good group coming in.

All things considered, this is great for the sport. It (potentially) begets parity. Which brings more teams success. Which gives more fans in more places things to cheer about. Which increases the sports footprint.

That being said, looking ahead to next year, with stocks replenished in PA, OH, and NJ, and with a bumper crops in Minnesota, Iowa, Florida, and Michigan and another in CA, the volume of DI talent should be back to normal levels, but with this general caveat: current collegiate rosters are almost universally young.

Across the country we have seen a sort of odd phenomenon. When Iowa’s three-peat team graduated, many other teams lost a good number of their starters to graduation too that same year.

The effect is that the country is inordinately young. Everywhere, from the PAC-10, through the Big 10 and Big XII, and right on through to the ACC and EIWA, teams are filled with underclassmen. Traditional powers Oklahoma State, Iowa, and Minnesota each only graduate one starter this year, and very few the next. National Champion Penn State loses just Pataky this year and HWT Cam Wade and Frank Molinaro next. Over 20 of the 80 NCAA All-Americans this year were Sophomores or younger and a large percentage of last year’s outstanding group of high school Seniors were redshirted. One could go on and on at just how few scholarships are going to be opened next year. So while the talent, nationally, might restock, the money may not.

Without further ado, here’s this year’s recruiting class rankings and, for reference, links to last year’s class rankings.

Class of 2010:  http://news.theopenmat.com/2010/05/tom%E2%80%99s-2010-recruiting-class-rankings/

*Last year’s recruiting class ranking following school name. Prospects will be listed with their final TOM National Ranking.

#1  Nebraska  (LY: 10th)

#1-Jake Sueflohn (WI), 141

#2-James Green (NJ), 149

#20-Austin Wilson (NE), 157/165

#20-Cory Brester (NE) 184/197

#3-Donny Longendyke (MN), HWT

TR-Tyler Caldwell, (Oklahoma), 165/174

Class Overview:

As good as Sueflohn has been in his final two years of high school, I think his best days are ahead of him. As a Junior he beat much more polished (and frankly, talented) kids than him. After a good summer, his skill level has increased, and college coaching coupled with his gritty, non-stop style, should only make his curve go upward.

The toughest weight class to project in college is 149. So many talented kids converge on it that it makes for a cluster of truly outstanding athletes. Calling any prospect at 149 a ‘can’t miss’ is a scary proposition for even the keenest eye of talent, but I’ll go on record and say that about James Green. Along with Alex Dierenger, who we’ll get to later, Green is the best in this class at seamlessly repositioning to get off another shot when initial ones are blocked or defended.

Why They’re Here:

It’s feasible that the Huskers nabbed half their starting line-up, including their HWT of the future, which is always a tall task. Sueflohn and Green provide a bright future at two weights which the Huskers have struggled with. A #1, a #2, and a #3, plus a little Brester and Austin Wilson, who was a Senior Nationals Runner-Up, losing only to the #1-ranked wrestler in the country in the finals. It works for me. And I’m sure it will for Coach Manning.

The late addition of Tyler Caldwell, a two-time All-American, including an NCAA finalist appearance last year, takes this class, from #2/#3, to the top spot. The Huskers will get two years out of him. And, in contrast to projecting who the top stars of tomorrow will be from high school, Caldwell is already a proven commodity.

#2  Ohio State  (LY: 8th)

#11-Johnni DiJulius (OH), 133

#4-Cam Tessari (OH), 141

#1-Hunter Steiber (OH), 141/149

#3-Kenny Courts (PA), 184

#1-Andrew Campolattano (NJ), 197

Orry Elor (CA), HWT

Class Overview:

Coach Ryan received very early verbals from DiJulius, Steiber, and Tessari, and the Buckeyes were well on their way to a stellar haul. DiJulius is the owner of three state titles. Steiber and Tessari each have four. Late in the cycle, Kenny Courts, a PA two-timer and Campolattano, just the second NJ wrestler to capture four state titles, joined the party. In between, Coach Ryan landed Elor, a Fargo All-American, at a weight that’s long been in need in Columbus.

Why They’re Here:

Incumbent starter, Nick Heflin, had a very productive campaign this year. So there may be a bit of a jam with him, Courts, and Campolattano. But otherwise, each of the recruits fills a future or current line-up need. And remember, the Buckeyes have blue-chipper Derek Garcia, who committed last year before rehabbing knee injuries, coming in at 165. While he was officially listed as 2010 commitment, and not listed above, his eligibility doesn’t start until this fall. Bottom line, with two #1’s and four in the Top 4; can’t get much better than that.

Why They’re Not Higher:

We had the Buckeyes #1 before the Caldwell transfer. Of course, Nebraska will get just two years from him but he comes without the questions of even the most talented high school seniors. While OSU’s group may include many stars of future, none are projected ‘locks’ for AA status from the get-go. And if you count Caldwell as a #1, Nebraska goes 1-1-2-3, at the top, to OSU’s 1-1-3-4. Pretty comparable, but with the edge to Nebraska and Caldwell in the ‘sure thing’ category.

#3  Central Michigan (LY: UR)

#2-Zach Horan (PA), 125

#15-Luke Smith (IL), 141

#1-Nicky Hodgkins (PA), 149

#9-Joey Kielbasa (IL), 157

#11-Mike Ottinger (PA), 165

#4-Devin Pommerenke (MI) HWT

Ty Davis (OH), 141/149

Class Overview:

Head Coach Tom Borelli has had his Chippewas wrestling at a high level (10 straight MAC championships and 5-straight top 15 NCAA finishes) for a long time. And, with no disrespect directed to previous athletes there, Borelli’s been turning coal into diamonds. Now he gets a chance to really make hay with one of the best recruiting classes of the year.

Horan has been an elite wrestler nationally since his freshman year. A rare 4-time state finalist in PA, he’s also made three appearances on Fargo’s big stage. He’s an immediate upgrade at 125, and perhaps the greatest recruit to ever head to Mt. Pleasant.

Smith has placed 3-2-1 in the Land of Lincoln. This year he won his title in a very tough bracket feature two other nationally ranked wrestlers, and defeated the defending Fargo Champion, 8-0, in the finals.

Hodgkins had a phenomenal high school career. He was a two-time state champion, winning NHSCA’s and Super32 along the way. This year at S32, he beat the #8, the #4, and #2 ranked wrestlers en route to his title.

Kielbasa also is from Illinois, and also beat a ranked wrestler in the state finals this year, giving him three state golds. He also won a loaded NHSCA Jr. bracket in Virginia Beach last spring.

Ottinger came on to the national scene late, and as a bit of a surprise to many folks. He was a state title contender his junior year before missing the postseason with a shoulder issue. This year he beat the #5-ranked wrestler in the country in state finals, before upsetting the #1 overall recruit, Destin McCauley, in the Dapper Dan Classic.

There’s no doubt Pommerenke is among the country’s elite big men. He didn’t lose a regular season match in three years and is one of the very few kids to post a win over #1-ranked HWT, Brooks Black. In fact, Pommerenke was selected for postseason All-Star teams before suffering a serious knee injury midway through the year.

Why They’re Here:

You have to applaud the recruiting efforts here. Borelli and staff have really upped the ante. With 6 state champions from power states and national-level credentials amongst each of them, this class likely represents the bulk of a Chippewa line-up that will be Top 10-ish at NCAA’s in time. Borelli grabs the two toughest slots to fill: bookends in Horan and Pommerenke, not to mention some dynamite talent to anchor the middle.

Why They’re Not Higher:

Tough call. The incoming Buckeye class is just more credentialed on paper. In comparing the two classes, the Chips have the edge in immediate impact and surety. But OSU has the edge in overall talent and long-term potential.

#4  Penn State  (LY: 3rd)

#1-Nico Megaludis (PA), 125

#7-Jordan Conaway (PA), 125

#7-Luke Frey (PA), 141

#1-Morgan McIntosh (CA), 184

#15-Colin Campbell (NC), HWT

Class Overview:

Sanderson and Co. did an outstanding job with this class. They targeted needs and landed them. A replacement for Pataky. Check. A solution to their problems at 197. Check. More depth at HWT. Check. This class is ranked 3rd, but the recruiting job by the staff is #1.

Megaludis captured 3 state titles in PA’s big class and finished his career with just one loss. He also had a Fargo finals appearance. McIntosh also won 3 state titles in single-class CA. Last summer he won Fargo. Frey has always been in the thick of things in talent-rich PA, posting career state placings of 1-4-2-3, and winning a title at NHSCA’s. All Conaway did was beat #1-ranked Evan Silver in the Dapper Dan, and PSU scooped him up when Liberty dropped their program. Coming out of North Carolina, Campbell isn’t the most widely known commodity to most folks. But he’s a talent, winning state titles, AA’ing in Fargo, and making the finals at two of the crown jewels of high school wrestling: NHSCA Sr. Nationals and the Super32.

Why They’re Here:

Sure-fire talents Megaludis and McIntosh. Frey is and has been one of the country’s best for years. Don’t be surprised if he’s in the line-up immediately. Conaway could be the leadoff guy for a few years if Nico outgrows the weight. Campbell is, at the very worst, a serviceable HWT, who could prove to be the man for the Nits.

Why They’re Not Higher:

So much talent, so little room. It was a real chore differentiating between the numbers 1-4 classes. Megaludis and McIntosh will almost assuredly be 4-year guys. But, what about the others? Conaway certainly sits for at least a year or two. And do we evaluate him as a guy who got taken down by a high school junior seven times in one match, or the guy that beat the #1 kid in the country in the Dapper Dan? Does Frey get through the Sherlock/Alton barricade at 41/49? And, is Campbell the long-term solution or a stop-gap between incumbent starter Wade, and a HWT of the future? These questions put a potential limit on how much this class can contribute. There is a scenario where only two in this class are of full service with the others being spot starters. On the other hand, what if Sherlock or Alton got hurt and Frey was the man (and he’s capable of it) for three or four years? It makes his signing much more valuable. In the end, I tend to be cautious, and Nebraska seems more poised to get use out of a group that’s nearly equal in talent. Ironically, if they were going to a school with less depth in the room, these future Lions could be at least two spots higher.

#5  Oklahoma State  (LY: 13th)

#2-Austin Ormsbee (NJ), 133/141

#3-Alex Dierenger (WI), 149

#17-Zach Skates (OK), 165

#4-Austin Marsden (IL), HWT

Class Overview:

Two years ago, Coach Smith brought the #1 recruiting class in the country to Stillwater when he grabbed five highly sought-after prospects and a JC National Champion. What that meant for recruiting in future years, was that scholarship monies would be tight. But that’s ok for Smith and company. Because they have, in my opinion, the best eye for evaluating talent in the business. Many programs can sign a bunch of highly ranked kids. But The Cowboys also seem to target the right ones, and the ones that fit their program best.

Why They’re Here:

Marsden wrestled 189 as a Junior, and when TOM broke the news of his signing to OK State, he stated in his interview with us, that the plan was for him to be the Cowboys’ HWT of the future. This year he wrestled 215 and was as dominant a wrestler as you’ll find across the country.

Both Ormsbee and Dierenger were Fargo Champions last summer and Cheesehead Champs during the year. Both of these guys have been ranked among the nation’s elite for years. And remember the ‘right guys’ comment? Ormsbee and Dierenger both have the ‘slickness’ Cowboy fans have come to expect and appreciate. Perfect fits for the orange singlets.

Why They’re Not Higher:

While this is a tremendous class, there might be similar issues that Penn State has. Room. Ormsbee is coming off a season in which he missed part of the year with leg (knee, ankle) injuries. And can he continue to make 133? He’s been at 135 his entire high school career. If Jordan Oliver stays at 133 for the next two years, the situation will be even cloudier, as Ormsbee would be ostensibly blocked for a starting gig by Oliver and Kindig.

Similar, situation for Dierenger. If Oliver and Josh Kindig move up to 141 and 149, respectively, Alex will either find getting into the line-up difficult, or be forced to move to 157.

For Skates, a national-caliber wrestler for years, he’ll have to navigate an absolutely loaded depth chart up top. He has the ability to be a Cowboy starter, but it might take a couple years.

Right now, Marsden appears to be the only one with favorable odds to crack a starting position as a R-Freshman. One year left for Alan Gelogaev, then to the big stage for Marsden if he can beat out little Rosholt.

The Penn State-Nebraska dilemma is echoed here in the OK State-CMU situation, where one school may have a bit ‘bluer’ blue-chippers, but the other have a faster track to varsity time. Again, only time will tell who gets the most production from this class.

#6  North Carolina State  (LY: UR)

#8-Nick Francavilla (NJ), 125     

#14-Coltin Fought (PA), 133

#18-Henry Carlson (AL), 149/157

#2-Chris Phillips (OH), 174

#17-Josh DaSilveira (FL), 184

#5-Harrison Honeycutt (NC), 197

Gabe LeVey (VA), 141

Adam Mathews (PA), 141

Joey Gaccione (NJ), 149/157

Josh Davis (NJ), HWT

Class Overview:


N.C. State at 6?

Coach Jordan is essentially bringing in a new line-up.

Francavilla was a terror last year, losing just one bout and capturing a third straight state title. Coltin Fought was really on top of his game at the end of the season, reaching the state finals for the second year in a row (and winning it this time), and going on to be crowned at Sr. Nationals.

Carlson won his fourth state title (3 in Alabama, 1 in Virginia). He’s placed in everything: Fargo, S32, NHSCA, Beast of the East, etc.

Phillips joins Carlson as 4-timers in this class. He also won an Ironman title this year (his second).

DaSilveira won a state title after capturing an NHSCA Jr. Nationals title in ’10.

Honeycutt, a multiple placer at Fargo, won his third state title. He was a S32 Runner-Up as a Junior in 2009.

Why They’re Here:

Three kids in the Top 8, six total in the Top 20, with considerable additions that weren’t ranked. The talent level of the Wolfpack room just doubled (or better). I don’t think it’s hyperbole that this incoming recruiting class might be able to beat their incumbent members in a dual. Right now. How’s that for value and utility?

Why They’re Not Higher:

This group has the quality, quantity, and projected team impact to be ranked higher. But, as talented as they are, several of these recruits come with warning labels, for various reasons.

Francavilla dealt with the always precarious shoulder injury this year. Fought and Carlson showed inconsistent periods at times. Phillips, while possessing other-worldly ability, has had folks question his commitment to the sport after being conspicuously absent from national competition throughout the last three offseasons. Likewise, Honeycutt hasn’t really been heard of on the national scene since October of ’09.

While their potential is undeniable, and the Wolfpack staff has to be ecstatic, I’m taking a conservative approach here, which puts them a slot or two behind where they could be.

#7  Old Dominion  (LY: UR)

#3-Rob Deutsch (NJ), 125

#7-Chris Mecate (CA), 141

#10-Taylor Moeder (KS), 149

#4-Pete Baldwin (FL), 149/157

Brandon Choate (PA) 133

Josh Clark (VA), 149

Class Overview:

The ODU staff has been doing a bang-up job bringing in new talent for the past few years. But the work this cycle by Head Coach Steve Martin, a relentless recruiter, takes the cake.

Rob Deutsch has been national caliber for years. A four-time state placer, Deutsch also has multiple placings at Fargo and other national tournaments. He was The Beast of the East Champ in a brutal weight class this past season.

Mecate, a S32 Champ in 2009, heads to ODU after winning a state title in California’s monster single class. He went on to place 3rd at NHSCA Sr. Nationals.

Moeder had one of the most impressive arcs over the past season, bursting into national recognition by: winning a Fargo GR title, placing 4th in FS, and reaching NHSCA Sr. National Finals after taking 4th as a Jr.

Baldwin, who owns the national high school record for both wins and falls in a career, is yet another ODU recruit clicking on all cylinders to close out his prep career. Baldwin was a FloNationals Runner-up last year, placed 5th at Super32, and won the Powerade, before, like Moeder, reaching NHSCA Sr. National Finals.

Choate was a placer at both the Powerade and the PA State tournament. Clark, a former Beast placer, missed his senior season after having surgery.

Why They’re Here:

Martin now has the blue-chippers he’s been coveting. Four wrestlers ranked in the Top Ten, these guys are ultra-talented. Worst case scenario, Coach Martin picked up 40% of a future starting line-up. More likely, he secured multiple guys that will contend for AA honors.

What’s more is that the staff isn’t just targeting the best talent available, but rather, identifying needs. The Monarch roster has youngsters (Robinson and LaValle) ready to step in at 125 and 133, but really needed talent from 141 through 157 to balance their bottom half. They got it.

Why They’re Not Higher:

As far as quality, ODU couldn’t have done better. A truly remarkable job here by Martin, who puts as many hours into recruiting research as anyone. The only thing keeping them from being higher is volume. As far as efficiency, grade it an A+ for the Monarchs.

#8  Cornell (LY: 4th)

#3-Nashon Garrett (CA), 125

#14-Caleb Richardson (VA), 125/133

#15-Bricker Dixon (MO), 125/133

#6-Nik Pena (CA), 141

#17-Jacob Aiken-Phillips (GA), HWT

Joe Rendina (MI), 133

Duke Pickett (VA), 157

Owen Scott (NY), 174

Craig Scott (NY), 184

Class Overview:

With the graduation of line-up staple, Mike Grey (133), and with Frank Perelli (125) having just a semester of eligibility remaining, Coach Koll and Company went heavy down low, grabbing five prospects between the first two weight classes. And they nabbed some great ones.

Nashon Garrett has really been coming on. A Fargo AA last summer, Garrett captured his second Cali title this winter.

A mainstay in the national rankings, Richardson placed highly at Fargo, Beast, Ironman, Cheesehead and NHSCA’s over the years.

Dixon is a multiple Fargo placer. He’s also won the KC Wrestling Classic twice on three finals appearances.

Pena won second consecutive 130lb. state title this year.

Aiken-Phillps was your Super32 Champ last fall and placed 3rd at both the NHSCA Jr. and Sr. Nationals the last two years.

Why They’re Here:

Whoever comes out of the battle for the first two (or three) spots, The Big Red got their lightweights of the future, all of whom are national-caliber The wild cards here may be the Scott Brothers, who have placed at NHSCA’s several times and could be in the mix with Lewnes gone and when Bosak and Simaz depart. They could certainly add value to this class should they prove their mettle.

Why They’re Not Higher:

If you ask Coach Koll, I’m sure he’d be happy with this class. But their long-term affect on the program may be limited due to what is already on the roster. Perelli will be the guy in St. Louis, and Tyler Biscaha could be waiting in the wings at 125. Joe Stanzione stands in the way of suitors for the 33lb spot, and there’s considerable depth at 141 with Ryan Dunphy, Mike Nevinger, and Chris Villalonga. Furthermore, Cornell has several talented kids (Marshall Peppelman, Billy George, Omar Akel) ready to contend from 65-97, which may make the Scott Bros’ affect minimal. A great crop, and certainly a lot of talent, but an issue of riches gives reason for pause.

#9  Lehigh (LY: 14th)

#2-Mason Beckman (PA), 125

#8-Nathaniel Brown (PA), 174

#12-John Bolich (PA), 184/197

#12-Jack Delia (NJ), HWT

Chris Dinnien (PA), 125

Jimmy Carucci (NY), 141

David Quakenbos (PA), 197

Class Overview:

Slow and steady. That’s what Lehigh brings to the table in the recruiting wars every year. You rarely find The Mountainhawks pulling in Top 5 classes, but you also rarely see them outside the Top 20. Recruits seeking a perfect storm of wrestling development, guidance, impeccable academics, and large and informed wrestling crowds are happy to find on home on South Mountain, Bethlehem, and this year is no different.

Why They’re Here:

The jewel of the class is Mason Beckman, who just capped off his second consecutive undefeated, Ironman- and state title-winning season. He’ll be immediately thrust into the starting gig at a weight that Lehigh has struggled with the past two years. And it should be noted that the Lehigh staff does perhaps the best job in the country at taking HS seniors and preparing them, in just a few months, for the rigors of DI wrestling. Expect similar, laudable, results from Beckman as they received from Dutton, Cagnina, and Napoli as true freshman in recent years.

Nate Brown, who has been nationally-relevant for years and has won NHSCA’s, is also a major acquisition. Along with Bolich, a PA State Runner-Up this year, the two will look to form a duo to replace, in some form,  Meys/Hamlin/Kennedy in due time.

Delia is a two-time state runner-up in New Jersey, losing in the finals each year only to foes ranked Top 5 in the country.

It should also be noted that 2010 signee, Eric Hess (157/165), after a bout with cancer, is back on the mat. He wrestled extremely well at Fila’s, and will enroll this fall when his eligibility will start for the first time. While I don’t include him here (because he was factored in last year) his addition and the prospects of the other four, once again give Lehigh formidable reinforcements.

Why They’re Not Higher:

Because Beckman is the only ‘sure thing’. While he’ll be pressed to action (and in my opinion, successful), Brown is in a slightly more difficult situation. Austin Meys is the incumbent starter, and just a Soph. next year. That being said, Meys’ injury is significant, and Brown, who is good enough to push Meys, regardless of the injury situation, could pay dividends sooner rather than later.  Hamlin will be around for two more years blocking a move by Brown or Bolich (who was a very small 189lber) to 184. And Delia, while very successful in a power state, didn’t compete much at all on a national level.

So while, like Cornell ahead of them, you’d expect these guys to work their way in eventually, it may take a couple years, potentially limiting their contributions, at least on paper.

#10  Virginia Tech (LY: 15th)

#6-Nick Brascetta (OH), 141

#8-Lex Ozias (MD), 149

#4-Matt Stephens (OH), 157

#14-Bubba Scheffel (MD), 174

Christian Funder (NC), 149

Austin Gabel (CO), 184

Class Overview:

You didn’t think Coach Dresser would let Coach Martin out-recruit him that much, did you?

No, the rivalry both on the mat and in the living room between VT and ODU is alive and well, as the Hokies check in at #10.

Anchored by duo’s from Ohio and Maryland, Blacksburg will be welcoming a very solid class.

Brascetta and Stephens come from perennial powerhouse, St. Paris Graham.

Brascetta started off as a lightweight (he won Ironman as a FR. 103lber) and has grown like a weed, wrestling up at 140 this year. He ‘s also posted placings at Fila’s and Super32 in his career.

Stephens has been Top 4 each year at his state tournament. And, although he hasn’t wrestled in many national tournaments (do any SPG kids?) he did place at Super32 two years ago.

Ozias and Scheffel hail from the same school as well: Southern Garrett.

Ozias was a 3-time champ, 4-time finalist in Maryland. He placed 3rd at both NHSCA’s and Super32 last year and was 5th in Fargo.

Scheffel captured three state titles (and was 3rd as a FR) and won NHSCA’s as a JR.

Austin Gabel is a multiple-time state champion. He was undefeated at The Clash the past two years wrestling for one of Colorado’s premier programs, Ponderosa.

Why They’re Here:

Virginia Tech’s class is ranked 10th here based almost entirely on talent, not any certain starting opportunities. Who wins starting spots is up to the kids to decide in the room. And while other classes ranked behind them MIGHT field more immediate starters, the talent here is just too good to override.

Why They’re Not Higher:

For similar reasons. This class is comparable in talent to Lehigh. And while Lehigh will have its own problems working their new studs into the line-up, VT is going to have a major log-jam of young talent. This class is composed of middleweights, primarily. And the VT roster has kids named Diaz, Neibert, (Brian) Stephens, Dong, Yates, Moon, and Hightower right in that wheelhouse. If a majority of the kids in this class start early, they’re even better than I thought.

#11  Buffalo  (LY: UR)

#17-Arik Robinson (NY), 125

#8-Blake Roulo (VA), 149

#13-Justin Lozano (CA), 165/174

#16-Jake Waste (MN), 165/174

#19-Justin Heiserman (MI), 197

Abdulgawi Mohammed (NY), 125

Danny Gormley (NY), 133

Class Overview:

The staff at Buffalo are on to something. After crowning 4 MAC Champions and sending a school-record, 6, individuals to NCAA’s, Jim Beichner has facility upgrades in the works and Frank Beasley, who works the recruiting trail tirelessly, has one of the best hauls of the year.

At the top, Arik Robinson became just the 4th four-timer in NYS history. This season he was named Most Outstanding at both the state tournament and Eastern States, the highest regarded regular season tournament in the Empire State.

Roulo has long been in the national picture. A 3-time Fargo AA and this year’s Beast runner-up, Roulo became just the second wrestler to ever win four class titles at NHSCA’s.

Lozano was a state runner-up this year, earning his second state medal. He’s also made finals appearances in 5 Counties, Doc Buchanan, and NHSCA’s.

Waste has a lengthy resume in both folk and international styles. He just won a Fila GR title in April after winning a state title in Minnesota. In 2009 he became the 6th ever Cadet Triple Crown Winner.

Heiserman was a three-time state finalist, two-time champ and an NHSCA placer this year.

Why They’re Here:

The Bulls nabbed quality kids at a number of weight classes that will keep that, at minimum, competitive in the MAC for years to come. With this group, look for an increased Buffalo presence in the rankings and at the NCAA tournament in the future.

Why They’re Not Higher:

Last year the Bulls brought in the Soria Brothers to man the lightweights. And they’ve performed better than expected in open competition last year. So Robinson starting isn’t a foregone conclusion.

This class, while heavy on ‘prospects’ in every sense of the word, lacks a #1 type guy. Their impact to their program is immediate, which is why they’re #11. But to become competitive nationally, the individuals here still have so work to do.

#12  North Carolina  (LY: HM)

#3-Evan Henderson (PA), 141/149

#13-Nick Catalano (PA), 149

#17-Robert Henderson (PA), 149/157

#10-John Staudenmayer (PA), 174

#10-Alex Utley (OH), 184

Cameron Throckmorton (PA), 125

Christian Barber (NJ), 149/157

John Guzzo (NJ) 165

Frank Abbondanza (NY), 174

Class Overview:

Coach Mock, with a bit of Cary Kolat’s influence, brings a talented group to Chapel Hill. The prize of the class is Ironman and 2x National Prep Champ, Henderson. If unorthodox technically, he’s a grinder, and perhaps one of the most competitive kids in this year’s senior class. He’s ready for the college line-up now.

Catalano was a state runner-up. Henderson, an Ironman runner-up and Beast placer. Staudenmayer capped an undefeated season with a PA big school crown. He also won the Beast of the East this year. Utley was a 2x OH state champion. Barber won a title in NJ this year and was the Sr. National Runner-Up.

Why They’re Here:

On the immediate impact of Evan Henderson, and a boat-load of quality, DI-caliber reinforcements. Outstanding class.

Why They’re Not Higher:

This group might just be a bit deeper and more talented than Buffalo’s, but, just how many starters do they get out of this group? Four of them are for two weights, one of which is complete stocked on their current roster. And Staudemayer and Utley are at weights where they brought in talented guys (Petroski and Giorgio) last year, both of whom performed excellently this year. It also would have behooved the Tar Heels to target more lightweights, an area they’re particularly thin at. In the end, a great job by UNC. Getting to the point where they’re struggling to get talent into the line-up is a good thing. If they can develop these guys, they’ll have a very competitive squad.

#13  Minnesota  (LY: 5th)

#12-Brad Dolezal (WI), 157

#13-Steve Keogh (MN), 165

#1-Logan Storely (SD), 174

Jordan Kingsley (MN), 125

Class Overview:

Along with Morgan McIntosh (PSU), Jesse Thielke (OTC), and Destin McCauley (OTC), Logan Storely was one of this year’s gems. He’s one of the few wrestlers in the country that you can give your stamp of approval as “DI-ready” the moment he steps on campus. He’s won both Fargo and NHSCA’s, and won six state titles. The last two years, he’s been absolutely dominant.

Dolezal and Keogh, once opponents, are now teammates. Dolezal has many international style placings, including a Fargo title as a Cadet, and went a combined 10-2 at Junior Duals last year (with one of those losses to Keogh).

Keogh was a state champion and Cheesehead champ his junior year and a runner-up at both in  ’11. He placed 4th at a loaded Fargo JR weight last summer.

Why They’re Here:

Largely on the strength of Storely. And partly on the fact that Dolezal and Keogh have a ton of potential.

Why They’re Not Higher:

Size. It’s possible that the Gophers are getting one starter here. Dolezal and Keogh could find it difficult to get into the line-up, particularly if former Olympian, Jake Deitchler is healthy. Dylan Ness and Danny Zilverberg at 157 are also possible hurdles and Minnesota also has Alec Ortiz and Cody Yohn with two years of eligibility in that vicinity.

The strange thing here too, is that JRob and staff didn’t target a prime-time 125lber for Zach Sanders impending departure. There isn’t a Gopher on the roster that can step in at 125 when he leaves. And, although they grabbed Jordan Kingsley here, he’s not the size, or at the level, where he should be expected to be competitive in the Big Ten in just one year.

#14  Wisconsin (LY:  UR)

#8-Matt Kelliher (MN), 141

#11-Cody Caldwell (IA), 157

#10-Connor Medbery (CO), HWT

Class Overview:

Let’s get this out of the way: most folks probably anticipated First-Team Clinch Gear All-Americans, Jesse Thielke (133) and Destin McCauley (149) to be included here, and with them a very high team ranking for the Badgers’ 2011 recruiting class. But both will take a year of prep work at the Olympic Training Center before matriculating to Madison, at which time their eligibility will start. So plug them in to a phenomenal start for the Badgers’ Class of ’12.

Why They’re Here:

The Badgers got three promising and battle-tested prospects.

Kelliher comes from the famed Apple Valley program.  He was a Fargo Runner-Up last summer in FS and placed in GR. He was also this year’s Cheesehead Runner-Up.

Caldwell is a multiple-time state champ in wrestling-rich Iowa. He posted a 5-1 record at this year’s Clash.

Medbery has 5 career Fargo Medals, and was this year’s NHSCA Sr. National Runner-Up.

Why They’re Not Higher:

All three might need some work before being ready for prime-time. Kelliher has the clearest path to a starting gig, but I would temper expectations for him early in a deep Big Ten weight. Caldwell might be a candidate for a redshirt. He certainly has the frame to get bigger, where the Badgers will need him more. Medbery could be a staple in UW’s line-up. But they do have some other talent there vying for the HWT spot. Whereas Minnesota grabbed a bona fide stud, Wisconsin will have to work with this group to get them DI-ready.

#15  Penn  (LY: 20th)

#16-CJ Cobb (NJ), 141/149

#10-Charlie Lynch (MD), 149

#10-Stephen Robertson (IL), 157

Jeff Canfora (NJ), 133/141

Mark Pinero (LA), 141

Lorenzo Thomas (PA), 157/165

Ian Korb (OH), 174/184

Class Overview:

Penn’s class is Exhibit A in the case to be made that one shouldn’t look entirely at rankings when assessing a recruiting class. The rankings aren’t gaudy, but each of the kids have shown the ability to wrestle with the best, placing highly at major events and knocking off highly regarded wrestlers along the way. Even some of the unranked kids will make the big dance. I’d lay money on it.

Cobb has placed at the state tournament 3 times and at NHSCA twice. Although he’s been at 145 for what seems like forever, he’s on the smaller side. So a move to 141 might not be out of the question.

Lynch, an NHSCA Runner-Up as a JR, was absolutely on fire at the end of the year, picking up a National Prep Championship and M.O.W. honors to boot.

A four-time state finalist in Illinois, Robertson also had a great year, going undefeated at The Clash for the second consecutive year, placing 3rd at a monstrous weight at the Cheesehead, and making the finals of Ironman.

Why They’re Here:

Coach Eiter and staff did a good job here of identifying talent and procuring wrestlers at weights that will be vacated to graduation (particularly in the middle). These guys aren’t the most household names yet, but they could be. That is to say, they have about as much upside, collectively, as most other groups. Most importantly, the talent fills needs, which means Penn will get a lot of miles out of these guys.

Canfora and Thomas were both Beast Runners-Up. Pinero was a Fargo AA and Beat placer.

Korb has placed at Fargo, Fila’s and four times at his state tournament.

Why They’re Not Higher:

Numbers and national recognition. But a fantastic class. A typical, bang-up job by the Penn staff, who will no doubt coach them up. When the Quakers are in the thick of things for EIWA titles in a few years, we can look back at this class as a precursor. They’re that good.

#16  Utah Valley  (LY: UR)

#4-Jade Rauser (MT), 125

#7-Val Rauser (MT), 133

#14-Jake Falk (UT), 149

Cody Hone (UT), 133

Chris Mayolo (WA), 149

Logan Addis (AZ), 149/157

Napolean Anciete (NV) 157

Chase Cuthbertson (AL), 165

Brian Chamberlain (WA), 197/HWT

Class Overview:

After crowning their first All-American since rejoining the DI ranks, UVU sets out to prove that it was just a starting point as they bring in a great group of future Wolverines.

The Rauser Bros, with a basket load of Fargo medals between them, will fit in perfectly to 125 and 133 where they’ll replace long-time starters Ben Kjar and Flint Ray.

Falk and Addis were both Reno Runners-Up this past year. Mayolo had his coming out party with a 4th place showing at Fargo last year.

Hone was a 4x state finalist. Anciete won three state titles. Chamberlain was 3rd at Sr. Nationals.


An absolutely loaded class for Coach Williams. This should be the bulk of a Wolverine line-up that is competitive in the WWC for years to come. It’s virtually a whole new team’s worth of talent.

#17  Purdue  (LY: UR)

#11-Danny Sabatello (IL), 125

#20-Chad Welch (IN), 157

#20-Drake Stein (IN), 174

Rusty Manness (WV), 133

Doug Welch (IN), 149

Preston Quam (CA), 184

TR-Ivan Lopouchanski (UNCG), 149

Class Overview:

Sabatello, a Fargo AA, won his second state title.

Twin brothers Chad and Doug Welch went back-to-back in Indiana State finals. Chad went on to win Sr. Nationals, with Doug placing 8th.

Stein won his second consecutive state title and was a Fargo Runner-Up in GR last summer.

Manness won his 4th state title and Quam was a CA state runner-up.

Purdue’s class ranking gets a major boost via free agency as well. Lopouchanski who narrowly missed All-American status in Philly (he lost in the R12 in sudden victory), comes to West Lafayette from the UNCG program.


Though many of these guys appear ‘mid-tier’ in individual national rankings, you’re looking at a whole heckuva lot of future starting Boilermakers. Five or better, with Lopouchanski a proven national talent at the college level, in the fold with three years of eligibility remaining.

#18 Virginia  (LY: 17th)

#10-Vinny Waldhauser (CA), 165

#18-Nick Kidd (MA), 184/197

Joe Martinez (CO), 133/141

Blaise Butler (IL), 149

David Wesley (VA) 157

Zach Nye (PA), 197

Pat Gillen (CT), 197

Ethan Hayes (OH), HWT

Class Overview:

Like Penn’s class, several of the unranked kids here are national-caliber. All of them, other than Hayes, appeared in the rankings at some point.

Waldhauser was a state runner-up to #1-Bryce Hammond. He was also a runner-up at the Ironman.

Kidd won National Preps and has placed highly at NHSCA’s.

Martinez was highly ranked until a sub-par performance at the NHSCA tournament. In fact, he won that event as a JR and was a runner-up as a Soph.


A good core of talent here that should be of tremendous value to the Cavs. A caveat is, there team is really young, and a good group of kids came in last year, which will limit some of this year’s impact. Also with several talented big guys already on campus, I’m not so sure why they grabbed so many 97’s. But hey, depth never hurts.

#19  Boise State (LY:  25th)

#19-Casey George (ID), 141/149

#9-Chris Castillo (WA), 157

#18-Taylor West (UT), 165

#19-Scotty Bacon (CA), 165/174

Class Overview:

George-Fargo AA. Tri-State Champ.

Castillo-Multiple Fargo AA’s. NHSCA finalist. Multiple Fila medalist.

West-Reno Champ

Bacon-Washington State Champ. California State placer. NHSCA placer.


Coach Randall fortifies his middle weights with quality, national-caliber talent. The Broncos need replacements for Adam Hall and Kurt Swartz, and next year, Jason Chamberlain. And it appears they got ‘em.

#20  Bakersfield (LY: UR)

#13-Fabian Garcia (CA), 125/133

#1-Bryce Hammond (CA), 165/174

Timmy Box (CA), 141

Adam Fierro (CA), 157/165

Steven Wood (CA), HWT

Class Overview:

Four of these guys placed at NHSCA’s, with Hammond and Garcia winning titles. For Hammond it was his second, to go along with two state titles and a Fargo Cadet crowning.

Box was 4th, Fierro 3rd.

Wood placed 4th in the CIF state tournament.


Any time you can add two studs and three other potential starters, you’ll get a tip of the cap from me. Garcia and Hammond could be national qualifiers rather quickly.

#21  Rutgers (LY:  24th)

#18-Anthony Perrotti (NJ), 133

#13-Steven Rodrigues (NY), 141

#5-Billy Smith (NJ), HWT

Doug Hamann (NJ), 157/165

Class Overview:

Perrotti, Hamann, and Rodrigues placed at the Super32.

Smith was an undefeated state champion this year.


While the Knights get good talent here, they might be getting just one sure-fire starter in Smith. The others will have to battle through a room crowded with talent from past recruiting success.

#22  Iowa (LY: 1st)

#15-Brody Grothus (IA), 149

#7-Kris Klapprodt (SD), 174/184

Patrick Rhoads (MO), 174

TR-Cayle Byers (George Mason), 197

Class Overview:

Grothus is one of the more underrated prospects nationally. In fact, during, and after, NHSCA’s I had more college coaches inquire about him than any other prospect at the time. He placed 3rd there, and had three high state placings, including a title this year.

Klapprodt won NHSCA’s this year. He went 12-2 in both styles at JR Duals last summer. He’s also won Rumble on the Red twice, and placed 8th at Fargo last year.

Rhoads was 6th at Fargo in the same bracket as Klapprodt. He was also a double Fila Cadet placer and moved down to 160 for NHSCA’s where he took 4th.

Byers had just one loss last year; an overtime tiebreaker to Cam Simaz. He also had posted a 9-4 win over eventual national champion, Dustin Kilgore.


On one hand, the Hawkeyes might not get much utility out of Klapprodt and Rhoads, at least for a couple years, based on their current roster. And they’re only getting Byers for a year. But count me in as one of the guys who believes they got value in Grothus. And the Byers rental might just be the acquisition that gets them an NCAA title next March. I’d say that’s a big pick up

#23  Kent State (LY: UR)

#11-Evan Link (PA), 125

#5-Ian Miller (OH), 157/165

Kyle Bauer (WV), 133

Nick Carr (PA), 157/165

Class Overview:

The Flashes, who have been doing a great job on the recruiting front recently, pick up state runners-up Miller and Link. Miller went on to be a FloNat’s RU, Link was a RU at NHSCA’s.

Carr was a state champ in ’10, and a runner-up this year.

Bauer won multiple state titles and placed at FloNats.


KSU grabbed multiple kids who should be staples in their line-up going forward.

#24 Stanford (LY: UR)

#2-Evan Silver (MD), 125

#15-Mike Sojka (IL), 197/HWT

Alex Manley (TN), 141

Josh Lauderdale (WA), 149

Brandon Terwee (IA), HWT

Class Overview:

Two headliners here for the Cardinal in bookends Silver and Sojka.

Silver was among the top lightweights for years, with finals appearances at Ironman, Beast, Cheesehead, and Fargo.

Sojka also performed well on the national scene, earning six combined Fargo/Fila medals.

Manley, from Tennessee’s most storied program, was undefeated at the Clash the last two years.

Lauderdale was a three-time state finalist.


Silver could for a dynamic 1-2 punch in the Pac-10 if Ryan Mango moves up to 133. He’s small, and should be a career lead-off guy that should develop into a national contender for several years. Sojka has a great deal of upside. He comes from Illinois small school division and his arc could certainly be on the upswing with Division-I coaching. Manley and Lauderdale are precisely the type of recruits that Stanford likes to bring along.

#25  Indiana (LY: 12th)

#7-Eric Roach (IN), 149

#11-Lucas Sheridan (CA), 184

Garret Goldman (IN), 197

Clay Chaberski (IN), HWT

Class Overview:

Roach was a 2x state champion in three finals appearances. He placed 4th at both NHSCA’s and Super32 and won FloNats after his JR season.

Sheridan had multiple high state placings. He is particularly impressive in GR, winning a Fargo title in that style last year. This spring he placed 3rd at Sr. Nationals.

Goldman, the son of Hoosier front-man, Duane, surprised many with a terrific run at to the state title beating two nationally ranked kids in the process.

Chaberski was a state runner-up.


What this class lacks in quantity, it makes up for with certainty. Roach and Sheridan will be mainstays in the Hoosier line-up for years.

Honorable Mention:

Army: #6-Conor Youtsey (MI), 125; Travis Mallo (IA), 174; Hudson Buck (CA), 184; Bryce Barnes (VA), 197; Stephen Snyder (MD), HWT

Air Force:  Dylan Hyder (WA), 125; Carter McElhany (CO), 133; Dan Dick (MN), 149/157; Konner Witt (OH), 165

Binghamton: #3-Nick Gwiazdowski (NY); 197/HWT; Derak Heyman (NY), 141/149; Adam Morris (PA), 157/165; Angelo Bortoluzzi (PA) 165; TR-Derek Steeley (Neosho CC), 125; TR-Brian St. James (Indiana), 133

Brown:  Tanner Hough (PA), 125; Zach Tanenbaum (KS), 133; Kenny Staub (ID), 141; Ricky McDonald (NV), 174; Ophir Bernstein (TX), 197

Bucknell: #20-Joe Stolfi (PA), 197; Austin Miller (PA), 125; Brandon Pesarchik (PA), 133; Joe Orecchio (NJ); 141

Columbia: Ryan Ponte (MA), 133; Elijah Sullivan (IA), 141/149; Eric Fajardo (NJ), 149; Chad Ryan (IA), 157; Ben Villaret (NY), 165; Shane Hughes (WI), 184; Matt Idelson (PA), 197; Austin Akins (VA), 197; Wyatt Baker (CA), HWT

Iowa State: Bo Schlosser (IA), 141; Aaron Sorenson (IA), 157; Logan Molina (NE), 165; Taylor Weatherman (IA), 174; Quean Smith (MI), HWT

Lock Haven: #5-Dan Neff (PA), 141; Cody Wheeler (PA), 133; Bobby Rehm (PA), 133; Matt Martoccio (PA), 149; Aaron McKinney (PA), 157/165; Phil Sprenkle (PA), 184

Maryland: #10-Geoff Alexander (PA), 133; #18-TJ Duncan (TN), 157; Josh Polacek (PA), 125; Lou Mascola (NJ), 141/149; Kyle DeHaut (PA), 149/157; Josh Snook (MD), 174/184; TR-Ian Squires (Boston), 141

Northern Iowa: #7-Cody Krumwiede (IA), HWT; Tanner Hiatt (IA), 157

Ohio: Garrett Garness (MN), 141; Zach Rohr (MN), 149; Andrew Romanchik (OH), 149; Spartak Chino (IL), 157; Cody Walters (OH), 165; Marshall Willet (OH), 174

Oklahoma: #11-Cody Brewer (MO), 133/141; Daniel DeShazer (KS), 125/133; Dalton Dennis (FL), 133; Jeromy Davenport (OK), 157; Andrew Spangler (IL), 174; Sam Wheeler (OH), 184

Pittsburgh: #16-Travis Shaffer (PA), 141/149; Ronnie Garbinsky (PA), 133/141; Nick Bonnacorsi (PA) 174/184;

To Top