We're going to take a deep dive into each NCAA weight class and review all the returning studs who didn't start this past year, whether due to taking a redshirt, injuries, or other reasons.
Now Up: 133 PoundsYou can find our redshirt reports on other weights here:
125 | 141
Taylor LaMont, Utah ValleyUtah Valley hasn't had a ton of success at the NCAAs, but its past two All-Americans have been in the lower weights by way of Ben Kjar's fourth-place finish at 125 in 2011 and Jade Rauser's eighth-place finish at 133 in 2016. The Utah Valley faithful are pinning their hopes on Taylor LaMont becoming the next Wolverine lightweight to earn a spot on the podium.
The No. 15-ranked recruit on the 2016 Big Board had a productive redshirt season, starting at 125 and then moving up to 133 after the Southern Scuffle. LaMont will be a threat next year at either weight. Utah Valley also has another lower weight stud waiting to step into the limelight in Durbin Lloren, the No. 73 recruit on the 2016 Big Board. Lloren finished his redshirt season at 9-6 for the Wolverines.
Montorie Bridges, WyomingWyoming's Montorie Bridges spent the past 12 months showing why he may have been slightly overlooked as "only" the No. 93-ranked wrestler on the 2016 high school Big Board. Bridges won the National Collegiate Open, beating No. 15-ranked Taylor LaMont in the finals.
Bridges is not too shabby at freestyle either. This past weekend in Vegas, Bridges placed third at 60kg in the junior tournament, beating Tariq Wilson, the No. 66-ranked wrestler on the Big Board in the consolation finals. Bridges also earned the Ultimate Road Warrior award at the Open, losing in his first match to finalist Vito Arujau before peeling off eight straight victories in the wrestlebacks.
Check out Bridges dispatching Arizona State's starting 125-pounder from last season with relative ease at the 2017 U.S. Open:
Rudy Yates, Northern IowaNorthern Iowa will have a conundrum on its hands at 133 pounds next year, as blue-chipper Rudy Yates comes off a redshirt, presumably to wrestle 133, where the Panthers already have rising junior and two-time national qualifier Josh Alber. Either wrestler could potentially bump up to 141 or, if possible, make the cut down to 125 to fill in for departing two-time All-American Dylan Peters. It's a good kind of problem to have, as Yates showed why he was ranked No .17 on 2016 Big Board, going 15-2 as an unattached wrestler, losing only to two-time All-American Eric Montoya of Nebraska and to NAIA stud Jacob Colon of Grand View.
He doesn't get the victory here in the video below, but Yates holds his own against Daton Fix, the top recruit of 2017, at the 2015 edition of Flo's annual Who's #1 event.
Tariq Wilson, North Carolina StateWilson compiled a pretty full season wrestling unattached for the Wolfpack, going 20-7 on the season. The No. 66-ranked recruit on the 2016 Big Board will have to be at the top of his game to break into NC State's loaded lineup. Two-time NCAA qualifier and rising junior Jamal Morris currently occupies the 133 slot, and two-time All-American and rising senior Kevin Jack is up at 141, although Jack does have a redshirt season to utilize.
Wilson showed why could be the man for the Wolfpack by battling his way through a deep and loaded 60kg weight class at the junior freestyle bracket at the U.S. Open to finish fourth.
Watch Wilson dominate at the U.S. Open with his win over Lehigh's Nick Farro:
Philip Laux, IowaIowa also has some decisions to make at its lower weights. The Hawkeyes graduate one of the best one-two punches in recent memory in Thomas Gilman and Cory Clark. Uber-recruit Spencer Lee will be joining the team next year, presumably ready to start at 125 as a true freshman, but it's all speculation at this point. Philip Laux has spot started at both 125 and 133 during the last three years and could probably go either weight next year. If Lee wears a redshirt next season, expect some combination of Laux and redshirt freshman Jack Wagner manning the first two weight classes for the Hawkeyes.
Cortez comes to State College, PA, by way of the University of Illinois, where the Illinois native spent his first year matriculating. Out of varsity action for two years, first from redshirting, then due to transfer rules, Cortez was to make his NCAA debut this past season. Unfortunately, a midseason injury dashed those plans, and the Nittany Lions faithful are hoping 2017-18 is the year Cortez finally gets to show off his skills at the NCAA tournament. Cortez will add to the embarrassment of riches Penn State returns to next year's lineup, which includes, if you hadn't heard, five NCAA champions.
Jered Cortez, Penn State
Ali Naser, Arizona StateAs soon as Zeke Jones was hired at Arizona State, he immediately went to work assembling a squad not seen in Tempe since perhaps the Sun Devils' glory days of the 1980s. Jones scoured all sources, adding blue-chip recruits and transfers. One of those transfers was Ali Naser. Naser hails from California and spent three seasons at Fresno City College before coming over to Arizona State. He'll have junior eligibility next season and has amassed quite a collection of wins on the freestyle circuit, including victories over Olympians Coleman Scott and Sam Hazewinkel.
Watch Naser edge the USA's 55kg representative at the London Games at the 2015 Bill Farrell tournament held in the New York Athletic Club:
Other names to watch out for who are looking to break into their starting lineups next year include but are not limited to:
- Nathan Boston, Campbell
- Micky Phillippi, Virginia
- TyShawn White, Lock Haven
- Dylan Duncan, Illinois
- Chaz Tucker, Cornell