High School Wrestling Recruiting

Why We Should Not Overreact to Verbal Commitments

As an individual in wrestling media, and a big college wrestling fan myself, I’m as excited as anyone that the recruiting “dead period” is finally over. College coaches have been given the green light to chat with Class of 2023 (rising junior) recruits. 


This is an immensely exciting time for fans, coaches, recruits, and families alike. Some of the best young high school scrappers in the nation are finally beginning to see some early fruits of their wrestling labor pay off. 


Having said that, here are seven reasons to remain even-keeled, maybe even skeptical about the recruiting news we have already heard and will undoubtedly hear much more of throughout the summer regarding these soon-to-be high school juniors (and even a few rising sophomores).  


+  Young people change their minds often. These teenage kids still have two (or more) full years of high school wrestling left. A lot can happen for a recruit in two years, both on the mat and off the mat. There are still many unofficial and official visits to be had, and a young athlete can be swayed in a different direction by every one of them. 


+  Academic interests may change. As I said before, these kids still have half of their high school careers remaining. With that, taking a specific class in high school could either inspire or deter you from a field of study. Should that occur, a school list may need some adjusting. Not every school has the same degree offerings. 


The free year of eligibility due to COVID-19 creates roster turmoil. It is great that many athletes were able to get some reparations for the uncertainty and craziness the coronavirus pandemic unleashed on college athletics and the world. That said, it has made college rosters more jam-packed than ever before. At roughly 9.9 full scholarships per team, this poses an apparent problem and ultimately a trickle-down situation for incoming recruiting classes. Simply put, there are fewer scholarship dollars and roster spots to go around due to 2021 being a “free” season. The impact of this free year of eligibility will be felt for many years to come. Sadly, this extra year was created with good intentions, but those that will hurt the most (and likely miss out on a scholarship opportunity) are the upcoming recruiting cycles. 


+  The coaching carousel is real, and it changes things. The reasons an athlete chooses a wrestling program are numerous. Arguably the biggest (or one of the biggest) reasons is the coaching staff and how it can help develop and support the recruit over their career. As we have learned this offseason, coaching changes happen often and sometimes without warning. That being said, a last-minute or sudden change could cause a recruit to change their mind. 


+  The transfer portal can through a wrench in recruitment. The transfer portal has been busy this offseason. We have seen the portal be graced by NCAA qualifiers, All-Americans, NCAA finalists, even an NCAA champ. Any transfers (in or out) can change a wrestler’s outlook on a particular school. 


+  Name, image, and likeness (NIL) developments will change the college athletics landscape. Just like the transfer portal has changed college athletics, so too will the NIL changes set to come into play later this summer on July 1. As it seems now, schools and compliance officers will have the final say in what deals can and cannot be signed by athletes. If certain schools are exceptionally strict with what type of sponsorships athletes can sign while in school, that will undoubtedly impact what schools or conferences a high schooler chooses. This issue becomes even trickier to navigate when you consider not all states will be supporting these NIL rights as early as 2022.


+  Committing too early can take away other scholarship offers. If an athlete commits to a school early, it will likely decrease some of the attention from other colleges and universities throughout their recruitment. It is always better to have more offers than less obviously. You never know what can happen. As all of the above bullets alluded to, or even a significant injury should pop up. With that, it’s risky to limit your number of scholarships offers so early in your high school career. 


All this to say, it’s exciting that numerous Class of 2023 athletes, and even TOM’s No 1 Class of 2024 athlete, Mason Gibson (Bishop McCort), put out a school list, but these commitments are far from set in stone and should be taken with a grain of salt. 


To Top