photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com
About two weeks ago, TOM posted an article with ten notable transferred that had occurred this offseason. Since that time, more have been announced, and more are expected. This time we have another All-American that is on the move and a pair of wrestlers that were looking for new homes after the unfortunate loss of the Eastern Michigan wrestling team.
Sean Russell, Minnesota – 125 (Previous school Edinboro)
With the departure of Tim Flynn from Edinboro to West Virginia, we see two of the Fighting Scots top returners transferring. The first is Sean Russell, 2017 All-American, after finishing seventh at 125 lbs. Russell won three EWL championships for Edinboro and earned top 11 seeds in each of last two NCAA Championships. The addition of Russell is perfect for the Gophers. It has not been a well-kept secret that Ethan Lizak and Mitch McKee plan to move up from 125 and 133 lbs, respectively, for next season. Before Sean’s transfer, the best option for Minnesota may have been to let blue-chip true freshman Patrick McKee man 125 lbs during his initial season in Minneapolis. Now they can redshirt the younger McKee while Russell uses his final year of eligibility and Lizak can bump up to a more comfortable, natural weight.
Dakota Geer, Oklahoma State – 184 (Previous school Edinboro)
The second wrestler that is leaving the Edinboro program is 184 lber Dakota Geer. In 2016-17, Geer was named the EWL freshman of the year when he won an EWL championship as a true freshman at 184 lbs and was given the 14th seed at nationals. It was announced late in last preseason that Dakota would redshirt the 2017-18, season, but before that release, he was in the top ten in preseason rankings. During his redshirt season, Geer accumulated a 15-4 record and won the early season Clarion Open. This transfer is not quite as crucial for Oklahoma State, compared to Russell to Minnesota. The Cowboys already return Keegan Moore, who qualified for NCAA’s last season as a freshman and signed 184 lb recruit Anthony Montalvo from California. Geer does bring more talent into the OSU room and the winner between him, Moore and Montalvo will likely be in the top 12 or 15 nationally.
Brian Andrews, Wyoming – 285 (Previous school Northeastern Oklahoma A&M)
Another Cowboy program that gets a boost from a transfer will be Mark Branch’s Wyoming team. The Cowboy’s have picked up the services of NJCAA third-place finisher Brian Andrews, who competed as a true freshman at 285 lbs for Northeastern Oklahoma A&M. Andrews made the NJCAA semifinals and was in a tie match last in the third period before getting pinned. He will assist in a weight class that needs help for Wyoming. The Cowboys have not had an NCAA qualifier at 285 lbs in either of the last two seasons. There are a host of heavyweights on the Wyoming roster, including the incumbent Sam Eagan, who will be a senior in 2018-19. They will have the luxury of redshirting Andrews if needed or starting him if he’s ready to compete in the Big 12.
Mason Kauffman, Northern Illinois – 157 (Previous school Eastern Michigan)
The latest wrestler to transfer from Eastern Michigan after the EMU athletic department announced they would be dropping their wrestling program is Mason Kauffman. Mason was a two-time Wisconsin state champion that just completed a freshman season redshirting for the Eagles. While redshirting he putting together a 12-8 record while wrestling at 157 lbs. Kauffman will be another contender in the mix to start at 157 for the Huskies. NIU’s returning starter Caden McWhirter is coming off a 9-10 season where he went 2-2 at the MAC Championships.
Tanner Smith, Chattanooga – 149 (Previous school Eastern Michigan)
Probably the most promising transfer to come out of EMU is Tanner Smith. Though he was not pegged as a blue-chip recruit, Smith forced fans to take notice after he racked up a 19-0 record and won five open tournaments while redshirting in the 2017-18 season. His most notable win was a major decision victory over 2017 SoCon champion Matt Zovistoski of Appalachian State in the Cleveland State Open. He picked up a second win over a past NCAA qualifier when he knocked off NC State’s Jamal Morris at the Edinboro Open. Smith will jump into the 149 lb weight class for the Mocs, who do have 2017-18 starter Roman Boylen returning. Though he did not qualify for nationals, Boylen did put together a solid 19-14 season and could take a redshirt, if needed.
Fred Green, Oregon State – 157/165 (Previous school Virginia)
Oregon State has signed Virginia’s Fred Green, who will be transferring back to the Pacific Northwest. A native of Washington and the same high school as Beavers assistant coach Taylor Meeks, Green will move back to the Pac-12 in hopes of revitalizing his career. OSU will be the third DI stop for Fred, who started at Boise State and then transferred to Virginia when the Broncos dropped their program after the 2016-17 season. Green had an encouraging redshirt season when he was 18-8, and he did not qualify for NCAA’s, he posted a winning record while starting as a redshirt freshman for BSU. At Virginia, Green had a rough go of things after the calendar turned to 2018, dropping 10 of his final 14 bouts. Oregon State returns NCAA qualifier Hunter Willits at 157, though he never redshirted, so that could be an opportunity for Green to slid into the starting lineup. Hopefully, a change of scenery, closer to home will benefit Fred in his final season of eligibility.