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Tech signs six to wrestling NLIs

November 25, 2008

 

BLACKSBURG – The Virginia Tech Athletics Department, along with head wrestling coach Kevin Dresser, announced Tuesday the signing of six student-athletes  from six different states to National Letters-of-Intent to compete for the Hokies. The group will enroll at Tech next year and begin competing shortly thereafter.

 

“Overall, we’re real excited about these six guys,” Dresser said. “We feel like we’ve just completed our third straight quality recruiting class. We’ve got some guys at areas where we feel like our depth is a little vulnerable so we feel like we’re putting the pieces of the puzzle together a little more each year.”

 

The group is a strong one as several are ranked nationally and bring impressive high school credentials to Blacksburg. Below is a look at each student-athlete, in alphabetical order.

Andrew Clement wrestles at Grassfield High in Chesapeake, Va., and projects to be a 174-pounder in college. He is a two-time Virginia Group AA state champion at Christiansburg High and also won the Super 32 Tournament before transferring to Grassfield.

 

“I know a lot about Andrew,” Dresser said. “My last year at Christiansburg was his freshman year and the level of toughness Andrew possesses is unbelievable. He’s got to make the step from high school to college, but we think he’s a real diamond in the rough.”

 

Hayden Countryman is one of the most accomplished wrestlers in Alabama history. He has won the Class 6A state championship in the 152-pound classification for four consecutive years and will have an opportunity to win his fifth state title this winter. A projected 149-pounder in college, Countryman wrestles for Prattville High.

 

As a junior, Countryman finished with a 59-1 record and earned NHSCA All-America honors. Should Countryman win the individual state championship title this winter, he will become only the second wrestler to win five individual state championships. He also had 58 pins last season. He is ranked 17th in the country at 152 pounds by W.I.N. Magazine.

 

“Being from Alabama, Hayden is a little bit untested, but has stepped up at the national events,” Dresser said. “He’s very, very athletic. He’s very skilled. It’s going to be a big step for him as far as the day-in and day-out grind at the college level. I think this kid could be really good.”

Taylor Knapp is a NHSCA national champion who is ranked 11th in the country by Wrestling USA Magazine at 152 pounds. The Collins Hill (Ga.) High product took third at the state tournament as a freshman but has taken the title the past two seasons and went 59-1 last year. He takes a 146-10 record into his final year.

 

Knapp is ranked 15th in the country by W.I.N. Magazine at 152 pounds and the No. 74 overall recruit in the country by InterMat. He is projected to wrestle at 157 pounds in college.

 

“Taylor comes from a great program in Georgia,” Dresser said. “He is a very skilled wrestler. He knows a lot about wrestling and is way ahead of the curve, technique-wise. I think his biggest step is going to be from the physical maturity part of it. He has a lot of room to grow.”

 

Erik Spjut wrestles at The Woodlands High in Texas and is ranked fourth nationally at 130 pounds by W.I.N. Magazine. A NHSCA High School All-American, he is a two-time Texas state champion and a three-time placewinner. The projected 133-pounder is ranked the No. 66 overall recruit in the country by InterMat.

 

“The best way to describe Erik is a spark plug,” Dresser said. “He’s one of those guys who, as the match goes longer, he gets better. That’s exactly what we need right now in our room. We need a guy with a big gas tank. I think that’s the most exciting thing about this guy. He’s very physical. He’s going to be fun for the crowd to watch because he lays it all out there.

 

Brian Stephens wrestles for St. Paris Graham High in Ohio and is a two-time Ohio state placewinner. The projected 149-pounder grappler was a NHSCA High School All-American.

“Brian comes from one of the top programs in the country,” Dresser said. “He’s very skilled and is used to the grind. I don’t think he’s going to miss a beat coming in here. He’s a tough kid, but we need to get him a little bit more offense coming into college. But he could step in and be a contributor right now.”

 

Cody Tyler is a projected 125-pound who wrestles at Oak Park High in Missouri. W.I.N. Magazine currently ranks him eighth in the country at 119 pounds. Tyler placed second in the state the past two years.

 

“We came across Cody late in the recruiting process,” Dresser said. “He also comes from a great program. He’s a lifer at 125, and any time you can get a quality guy who’s placed high at Fargo and other national meets, that’s a plus. Luckily, he fell into our hands late in the recruiting season, but everything we’ve seen from him, we like a lot.”

Tech will also have several walk-ons join the program and are expected to sign at least on other student-athlete in the spring.

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