Curious about all the hammers who you DIDN'T see at the conference and NCAA tournaments at the end of the 2016-17 season? We've compiled all our redshirt reports for all 10 weight classes to create the Mother Of All Redshirt Reports. It's MOARR offseason wrestling analysis than you even knew you wanted to read!
Zeke Moisey, West VirginiaMoisey had a magical run to the 2015 NCAA finals as an unseeded true freshman qualifier, beating the Nos. 15-, 7-, 6- and, 2-seeded wrestlers along the way. Injuries cut Moisey's sophomore season short and kept him off the mat for the entire 2016-17 season. Head coach Sammie Henson is no doubt excited to get his All-American back in the lineup for the Mountaineers.
Watch Moisey take out 2017 NCAA champion Darian Cruz in the 2016 Southern Scuffle consolation semis in the video below:
Ryan Millhof, Arizona StateMillhof sat out the 2016-17 season after transferring from Oklahoma to be part of the dynamite squad head coach Zeke Jones is putting together at Arizona State. Millhof had a very light schedule this past year, wrestling in a single open and not facing off against any ranked wrestlers. Still, the Suwannee, GA, native was a seventh-place finisher at the 2016 NCAA tournament and will slot in nicely in a Sun Devils lineup that returns five qualifiers from the 2017 NCAA tournament and NCAA champ and fellow transfer Jason Tsirtsis.
Watch Millhof also get the better of the reigning 125 champ (unfortunately for Darian, when you're the champ, the losses you've taken become your opponents' highlights) at the 2016 NCAA Championships.
Ronnie Bresser, Oregon StateBresser took a redshirt season after making the NCAA as a true freshman and sophomore. The local Oregonian finished in the round of 16 after receiving the No. 10 seed in 2015. In 2016, Bresser finished in the bloodround after getting the 11th seed. The Beavers are hoping Bresser will break through in 2018 and secure a long-awaited All-American honor. Bresser had an short competition schedule this season, wrestling in only two tournaments. Though he did win one, the always tough Reno Tournament of Champions.
Sebastian Rivera, NorthwesternThe No. 87 recruit on the 2016 Big Board had a productive redshirt freshman year. Rivera placed fourth at the prestigious Midlands Tournament, held in his home gym on Northwestern's campus. The New Jersey native knocked off four NCAA qualifiers during the season, including Illinois' Travis Piotrowski, Ohio's Shakur Laney, Missouri's Barlow McGhee, and on two separate occasions Wisconsin's Johnny Jimenez. Rivera also kept a toe in freestyle water, wrestling in both the Dave Schultz and Bill Ferrell Memorial Tournaments. Rivera will have to beat out teammate Anthony Rubinetti for the starting job at 125 for the Wildcats next year.
Danny Vega, Iowa StateVega will attempt to fill in for departing Cyclones senior Kyle Larson, who Vega actually beat earlier in the season at the Harold Nichols Open. An Arizona native, Vega was the No. 45-ranked recruit on the 2016 High School Big Board. Vega had a busy redshirt season, wrestling in four tournaments and winning the UNK Holiday Open. Challenging Vega for the starting spot will be Markus Simmons, a rising redshirt sophomore who finished the season with a 18-8 record.
Kyle Norstrem, Virginia TechHailing from Florida, Norstrem will look to join his older brother, rising senior 141-pounder Kevin Norstrem, in the Hokies lineup next year. He was the No. 79 recruit on the 2016 Big Board and will have big shoes to fill as two-time All-American Joey Dance graduates this year. Kyle wrestled in four tournaments unattached and completed his redshirt campaign with an 11-5 record.
Austin Assad, MichiganAssad had an impressive redshirt 2015-16 season and was the starting 125-pounder for the Michigan Wolverines for half the season. But the Ohio native got hurt midway through the year necessitating the un-retirement of fifth-year senior and All-American Conor Youtsey. Assad will look to rebound in 2017-18 as the Wolverines return quite a lot of firepower, including recent graduate transfer and All-American Kevin Beazley.
While it's very early to be speculating on how next year's lineups and weight classes will shake out, we'll do our best to highlight everyone who we think will be jumping off the bench and on to the starting squad. Below is a non-exhaustive list of guys to keep in eye on who may have their breakthrough performances in the 2017-18 season and challenge for All-American honors in Cleveland.
- Brandon Jeske, Old Dominion
- Devin Schroder, Purdue
- Alex Mackall, Rutgers
- Gage Curry, American
- Brandon Cray, Maryland
- Jonathon Tropea, Rider
- Lucas Hall, Michigan State
- Paul Bianchi, North Dakota State
- Dalton Macri, Cornell
- Matthew Schmitt, West Virginia
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.
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.
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.
Other names to watch out for:
- Nathan Boston, Campbell
- Micky Phillippi, Virginia
- TyShawn White, Lock Haven
- Dylan Duncan, Illinois
- Chaz Tucker, Cornell
Kanen Storr, Iowa StateFirst-year ISU head coach Kevin Dresser will be counting on blue-chip recruit Kanen Storr to help anchor a revamped lineup, as the new-look Cyclones will have to replace seven graduating starters from the 2016-17 season.
Storr is an ideal candidate around whom to build a lineup, having amassed a 24-5 record as a redshirt freshman. While wresting unattached, Storr notched wins over NCAA qualifiers Colton McCrystal, Luke Pletcher, Russell Rohlfing, and Zach Synon. Storr also finished second at the junior freestyle division at the U.S. Open last weekend in Las Vegas. The No. 32 recruit from 2016 should make an immediate impact for the Cyclones.
Storr made it to the finals in a stacked weight class at the Open, as evidenced by this semifinal victory over two-time NCAA qualifier Pat Lugo of Edinboro, seen in the video below:
Chad Red, NebraskaCornhuskers fans are used to chanting "Go Big Red" at matches. Soon that cheer will take on extra significance, as the No. 8-ranked recruit on the 2016 Big Board is expected to make his varsity debut next season. Red had an outstanding redshirt season, going 19-3 and placing fourth at the Midlands. Red owns wins over national qualifiers Jack Hathaway, Cole Martin, and Russell Rohlfing, while only taking losses to Anthony Ashnault, Matt Kolodzik, and teammate Colton McCrystal.
That last loss will makes things interesting for head coach Mark Manning, as McCrystal returns next year for his senior season. The loser of the Red-McCrystal wrestle-off will likely have to go up to 149, which would potentially make Collin Purinton, whom Red also beat last year, the odd man out for the Cornhuskers.
Luke Karam, LehighLehigh head coach Pat Santoro has managed the deferred enrollment of his lightweights with expert precision, as All-American senior Randy Cruz graduates just in time for Luke Karam, the No. 31-ranked recruit of 2016, to come off redshirt to step into the starting position.
Karam compiled a 20-9 record during his redshirt campaign, which included a win over two-time All-American Earl Hall. Karam should give the brown and white one of the best trios of lightweights in the nation alongside Darian Cruz and Scott Parker at 125 and 133, respectively.
Carter Happel, IowaHappel, the No. 34-ranked wrestler on the 2016 Big Board, racked up a sterling 22-3 record during his redshirt season. But Tom Brands will have quite a few decisions to make as several young Hawkeyes vie for the starting spots at 141.
Rising sophomore Vincent Turk had a promising redshirt season the year before and might have been the Hawkeyes' 141 starter last year if it weren't for an injury he suffered early in the season. Brock Rathburn, Paul Glynn, and Danny Murphy also all wrestled matches at 141 last year.
Glynn and Murphy joined Happel at the U.S. Open last week, where Happel lost in the 66kg round of 12 to teammate Keegan Shaw, who spent last year wrestling at 149, a spot that is unfortunately for Shaw held on lockdown by three-time All-American Brandon Sorensen.
Ke-Shawn Hayes, Ohio StateInjuries threw a monkey wrench into OSU head coach Tom Ryan's plans for 2017. Redshirt freshman Ke-Shawn Hayes suffered a season-ending injury in November 2016, forcing Ryan to pull Luke Pletcher out of his redshirt and bump him up from 133 to plug the hole in the Buckeyes lineup.
Ohio State is undoubtedly a stronger team with a healthy Hayes back in business, but the question now is what happens to Pletcher, and by the same token, senior Nathan Tomasello, who just finished third at 133 at the last NCAA Championship.
However the lineup shakes out, Ryan has a problem on his hands many coaches wouldn't mind having for themselves.
Vying with Ohio State and Iowa for biggest lineup question mark of next season is Oklahoma State, which has three potential All-Americans returning to wrestle 141. One of those guys is two-time national champion Dean Heil, which likely leaves Tristan Moran and Boo Lewallen on the outside looking in.
Tristan Moran & Boo Lewallen, Oklahoma State
Moran placed sixth at the Southern Scuffle and third at the Reno Tournament of Champions. Lewallen won the Reno TOC and lost in the bloodround of the Scuffle. They both beat 2017 All-Americans last year and are both rising redshirt sophomores.
It's possible that either could challenge at 149, but waiting to claim that spot is All-American and Boise State transfer Geo Martinez. I'm sure Oklahoma State head coach John Smith is doing what he can to keep both wrestlers happy and in orange and black singlet, but I'd also bet that there are more than a few other head coaches who wouldn't mind having either one on their roster.
Other names to watch out for:
- AC Headlee, North Carolina
- Tyson Dippery, Rider
- Brent Moore, Virginia Tech
- Michael Prieto, South Dakota State
- Sam Turner, Wyoming
Ryan Deakin, NorthwesternIf college wrestling fans weren't familiar with Ryan Deakin before this season, it's a good bet they'll be well acquainted with him by the end of this season.
Hailing from Broomfield, Colorado, Deakin had a redshirt campaign for the ages, announcing his presence with authority at the 2016 Midlands tournament by placing third in a loaded bracket. During his redshirt season, Deakin scored wins over the Nos. 11, 13, 14, and 16 seeds from the 2017 NCAA tournament. He also beat three other national qualifiers just for good measure. His only losses were to Brandon Sorensen, Steve Bleise, and Jacob Tucker. Deakin avenged his losses to both Tucker and Bleise later in the season.
Just to make sure folks didn't think he was a one-style wonder, last week in Las Vegas Deakin reeled of six straight victories to win the 66kg junior freestyle weight class, beating two-time cadet gold medalist Yianni Diakomihalis in the finals. I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that Deakin is going to be pretty decent for the Wildcats next year.
Check out Deakin in the video below as he edges Diakamohalis in the U.S. Open junior finals:
Alec Pantaleo, MichiganSome serious hammers are taking of their redshirts next season at 149, and Michigan's Alec Pantaleo may be the most fearsome of the bunch.
The Canton, Michigan, native has already been to two NCAA tournaments, earning sixth place in 2016. Pantaleo will not have an easy path to the top of the podium, however, as he will have to get past Hodge Trophy winner Zain Retherford, among others, if he stays at 149 next year.
But at the U.S. Open this last weekend, Pantaleo demonstrated that he can hang with the best in the country. Although it was a freestyle tournament, Pantaleo finished fifth, beating highly decorated multi-year NCAA All-Americans Jason Chamberlain and Jason Welch along with the way. Expect Pantaleo to wreak havoc at whatever weight he ends up wrestling this upcoming season.
Geo Martinez, Oklahoma StateGoe Martinez is, like Pantaelo, already an NCAA All-American, having finished eighth in 2016. Geordan made his way to Stillwater via Boise State, where he was a two-time NCAA qualifier.
Martinez will need to be at the top of his game to fend off the many challengers for the starting spot in the Cowboys lineup. There are a couple of sophomore studs by the name of Tristan Moran and Boo Lewallen returning at 141 who might be interested in bumping up. There is also fellow 149-pounder Jonce Blaylock, who Martinez beat last year in sudden victory at the Reno Tournament of Champions.
Other names to watch out for:
- Zander Wick, Wisconsin
- Gary Dinmore, Rider
- Cortlandt Schuyler, Lehigh
- Jacob Tucker, Michigan State
- Freddy Stroker, Cornell
- Kennedy Monday, North Carolina
Griffin Parriott, PurdueThe No. 7-ranked wrestler on the 2016 High School Big Board had a relatively quiet redshirt season, going 11-2 without any marquee victories. Parriott didn't suffer any bad losses either, only dropping close matches to All-American Jake Short and junior college champ and Ohio State transfer Dayton Racer.
Parriott has plenty of bona fides though. The Minnesota native is a 2016 Fargo champ in both freestyle and Greco-Roman. He also won the 70kg junior freestyle tournament last week at the U.S. Open after placing third in the 66kg weight class a year ago.
With Purdue senior Alex Griffin graduating, Parriott is in perfect position to take over the 157 weight class next season. The Boilermakers could also potentially save money by only having to replace half of the names in the programs when they list the starter at 157.
You can watch Parriott take the 70kg junior freestyle U.S. Open title over Joe Lee in convincing fashion in the video below.
Evan Wick, WisconsinThe heavier of the two Wisconsin Wick brothers had an outstanding season of deferred eligibility, finishing the year with a 25-4 record and scoring wins over 2017 NCAA qualifiers TJ Ruschell (his teammate), Alex Griffin, Kyle Langenderfer, Clay Ream, and Colin Heffernan. Wick won seven straight matches in the consolation bracket at the Midlands to finish fourth.
With Ruschell graduating, the Badgers faithful should not expect a drop-off in production at 157 pounds next year with Wick in the lineup. The Californian can also boast of impressive freestyle credentials, having finished third in Las Vegas at the 74kg weight class in the junior freestyle division.
Hayden Hidlay, North Carolina StateWolfpack fans should be stoked about what they've seen already from Hayden Hidlay. The No. 6-ranked wrestler on the 2016 Big Board had a terrific redshirt season, winning 20 matches against just three losses, all to NCAA qualifiers.
Hidlay took first place at the National Collegiate Open and more recently placed fourth in the loaded 74kg weight class in the junior freestyle tournament at the U.S. Open in Las Vegas.
NC State head coach Pat Popolizio will now have to figure out how to accommodate Hidlay into a lineup that also returns NCAA qualifiers at 157 and 165 pounds, though surely many other programs wouldn't mind having similar problems.
Jason Tsirtsis, Arizona StateAssuming he receives a hardship waiver from the NCAA, Tsirtsis will be able to bolster an already formidable Sun Devils lineup with one final year of eligibility. As a two-time All-American with both a third-place finish and an NCAA title, Tsirtsis has more accomplishments than we can fit into this article.
After a full year training with Zeke Jones in the Arizona State wrestling room, Tsirtsis could be ready to reclaim his championship form in 2017-18. Tsirtsis will still have to get past his teammate, Pac-12 champ Josh Shields, to earn the starting spot, but if he does, expect the Indiana native to inflict serious damage at NCAAs next year.
Richie Lewis, RutgersThe injury bug hit the Rutgers roster hard last season and senior Richie Lewis was a prime example of the Scarlet Knights' misfortune. Lewis had to shut down his season after just two matches. One of those matches was a 2-0 victory over 2017 NCAA finalist Joey Lavallee. Lewis also notched wins over All-Americans Brian Murphy and Tyler Berger during the 2015-16 season. Those victories and many others have Rutgers fans salivating about the thought of a healthy and hungry Lewis back in the lineup.
Lewis' return could mean either he or NCAA qualifier and rising junior John Van Brill bumps up to 165. Head coach Scott Goodale will have to juggle quite a few returning qualifiers, leaving some Scarlet Knights fans wishing there were more weight classes.
Other names to watch out for:
- Jake Wentzel, Pittsburgh,
- Justin Thomas, Oklahoma
- Ricky Stamm, Hofstra
- Ryan Blees, Virginia Tech
- Mitch Finesilver, Duke
- Laken Cook, Appalachian State
- Garett Hammond, Drexel
Tom and Terry Brands pulled off quite the coup when they got the No. 3-ranked wrestler from the 2016 High School Big Board to commit to wrestle for the Hawkeyes. Alex Marinelli was one of the most sought-after recruits from legendary high school blue-chip factory St. Paris-Graham in Ohio.
Alex Marinelli, Iowa
Marinelli backed up the hype his redshirt year with a fourth-place finish at the Midlands, losing only to Anthony Valencia and Isaiah Martinez and notching wins over three 2017 NCAA qualifiers. Marinelli also advanced to the finals of the Junior Freestyle U.S. Open before getting stopped by the reigning junior world champ, Mark Hall.
Iowa already has a pretty good 165-pounder in NCAA qualifier Joey Gunther, who will have sophomore eligibility next season. The 174 weight class does open up with the graduation of Alex Meyer, but, as we'll see in the next redshirt report, there is another young Hawkeye coming off redshirt gunning for that spot as well by the name of Kaleb Young. So Iowa finds itself in not unfamiliar territory for this program in having more worthy wrestlers than weight classes.
You can see Marinelli demonstrate his freestyle skills as he makes short work of Jeremiah Kent in the U.S. Open quarterfinals in the video below.
David McFadden, Virginia TechRecently promoted head coach Tony Robie will be counting on David McFadden to make up for the points lost by the departure of All-Americans Joey Dance, Sal Mastriani, Zach Epperly, and Ty Walz from the lineup. Luckily for Robie and and the rest of the Hokies faithful, McFadden was a sixth-place finisher at the 2016 NCAAs as a true freshman and has spent the last year honing his skills on redshirt.
McFadden finished the season with an 18-2 record. The New Jersey native also placed fifth at the U.S. Open in a stacked 74kg junior freestyle bracket last weekend in Las Vegas.
Daniel Bullard, North Carolina StateBullard is coming off redshirt and entering a crowded middleweight field for the Wolfpack. Daniel's brother, Thomas, and fellow redshirt freshman Hayden Hidlay will be battling for the job at 157. At 165, Bullard will have to wrestle off with teammate Brian Hamann, a rising senior and 2017 NCAA qualifier.
It is unlikely to be an easy task, but Daniel was the No. 43-ranked recruit on the 2016 Big Board and just wrapped up a successful year of deferred eligibility with a 15-7 record. Whoever emerges from the NC State lineup at this weight is going to cause a lot of problems for their opponents.
Joe Grello, RutgersAs one of the key pieces to Rutgers highly rated recruiting class of 2016, Joe Grello unfortunately did not have much of an opportunity to showcase his blue-chip talent, getting bit by the injury bug that plagued the Scarlet Knights' wrestling room after a mere four matches.
Grello was ranked No. 60 on the Big Board and is expected to win the starting spot for Rutgers at 165 next year, though he will have plenty of competition from the likes of Scarlet Knights returnees Willie Scott, Dylan Painton, and fellow redshirt Brett Donner.
Gordon Wolf, Drew Longo & Ian Brown, LehighLehigh University has a logjam of NCAA tournament-qualifying caliber wrestlers at 165, with three contenders for the spot last occupied by NCAA qualifier Cole Walter. Though two-time All-American Mitch Minotti graduates to create some breathing space, it might actually get tougher on this particular Mountain Hawk ladder if Jordan Kutler moves up from 157 pounds as many expect him to next season.
It's also rumored that if Kutler moves up to 165, you could see an exodus of Mountain Hawks down to 157. We'll have to wait and see how head coach Pat Santoro resolves this enviable conundrum.
Other names to watch out for:
- Nick Knutson & Colton Clingenpeel, North Dakota State (Also co-winners of the redshirt freshman Name of the Year Award)
- Joe Velliquette, Penn
- Elijah Cleary, Ohio State
- Koltyn Eason, Edinboro
- Connor Flynn, Missouri
Jacob Covaciu, WisconsinNot content with being merely a folkstyle terror, Covaciu won the 79kg weight class in the junior freestyle division of the U.S. Open less than two weeks ago.
The freestyle hardware will complement a growing list of NCAA trophies. Covaciu won three open tournaments competing unattached for the Wisconsin Badgers. He finished the season with 21 wins against just two losses.
Wisconsin head coach Barry Davis will have a couple solid options at 174 next year as 2017 NCAA qualifier Ryan Christensen returns for his junior year of eligibility. One possibility would be for either Christensen or Covaciu to go down to 165 pounds to fill in for departing four-time All-American Issac Jordan.
You can watch the Indiana native Covaciu win gold at the Open over fellow redshirt frosh Kaleb Young in the video below.
Kaleb Young, IowaAs you saw in the last video posted above, Young came up just short of gold in Las Vegas at the U.S. Open. However, it would appear that Young is in the midst of a transition up to a higher weight class. He wrestled all of his redshirt year at 165 pounds but entered the Open at 79 kilograms, or about 174 pounds. Additionally, with teammate Alex Marinelli also coming off redshirt and locked into pole position at 165, our magic eight ball says signs point to yes for Young to move up a weight for next season.
Young had a solid campaign wrestling unattached for the Hawkeyes, finishing in fifth place at the always tough Midlands tournament, where he notched three wins over 2017 NCAA qualifiers. The No. 21-ranked wrestler on the 2016 High School Big Board should be well prepared to take over for Hawkeyes departing All-American Alex Meyer.
Beau Breske, NebraskaThe No. 14-ranked recruit from the 2016 Big Board had an abbreviated redshirt campaign, wrestling in only three matches before shutting down for the college season. Breske has plenty of experience, though, having won multiple high school state titles in Wisconsin and multiple national championships at Fargo. Breske also battled his way past Michigan All-American Myles Amine to win the 79kg weight class of the 2016 U.S. Open junior freestyle tournament.
With senior Micah Barnes graduating, Huskers head coach Mark Manning will be counting on Breske to fill the void at 174 for Nebraska.
Montalvo will arrive on campus this fall with sophomore eligibility, having spot started his true freshman year during the 2015-16 season. With Illinois All-American Zac Brunson using up all his eligibility last season, Montalvo is poised to take the reins at 174 in Champaign, Illinois.
Xavier Montalvo, Illinois
Montalvo had a commendable redshirt season, going 13-4 and knocking off Cinderella All-American Jake Residori from Southern Illinois Edwardsville at the Lindenwood Open. The Illinois native and Montini Catholic grad also wrestled in the monstrous 86kg senior freestyle bracket at the U.S. Open this April. Though Montalvo didn't come home from Vegas with any hardware, the competition was as elite as it gets, with the eighth-place spot in the tournament being occupied by three-time All-American TJ Dudley.
Jacobe Smith, Oklahoma StateJacobe (no relation to head coach John) comes to Stillwater via Northeast Oklahoma A&M, where he was a two-time junior college national champion.
With seniors Kyle Crutchmer and Jordan Rogers both graduating, the 174 spot in the Cowboys lineup is up for grabs, and Smith looks likely to claim it as his own. Smith had a perfect 11-0 record last season, which included wins over Fighting Illini All-American Zac Brunson and his heir apparent Xaiver Montalvo.
Oklahoma State graduated three All-Americans from its roster this year, so Smith will be counted on to step up and make up for some of those lost points if the Cowboys are going to contend for a team trophy at the NCAAs in Cleveland.
Other names to watch out for:
- Andrew McNally, Eastern Michigan
- Fox Baldwin, Virginia
- Austin Bell, Pittsburgh
- Dale Hilleman, Iowa State
Peter Renda, North Carolina StateLast season, 184 pounds was one of the toughest NCAA weight classes in recent memory. This season, Pete Renda and some of his competitors will return to varsity action, potentially matching the fearsomeness of the previous season.
Renda spent some time up at 197 during his redshirt campaign before dropping back down to 184 to place fifth at the redoubtable Midlands. Renda wrestled 174 pounds his first two seasons at NC State before having a breakout season his junior year at 184, placing third at the NCAAs held in Madison Square Garden.
Renda also kept busy on the freestyle circuit, wrestling in the senior U.S. Open in Las Vegas a couple weeks ago, where he advanced to the bloodround before being eliminated by Nebraska's three-time All-American TJ Dudey.
Wolfpack head coach Pat Popolizio also gets Nicky Hall, who spot started at 184 for the Wolfpack last year, back this fall.
You can watch one of Renda's victories at the U.S. Open in the video below, where he takes out Army's Victor Terrell.
Domenic Abounader, MichiganAbounader only wrestled in five matches last season before suffering a season-ending injury, though luckily he hadn't yet burned his redshirt, so he was able to take the rest of the year off knowing he'd be able to come back this fall.
Head coach Joe McFarland and the rest of the Wolverines faithful will be pleased to have Abounader back in the lineup. The three-time qualifier and 2016 bloodround finisher will join six returning All-Americans in one of the most hyped squads of the 2017-18 season.
Willie Miklus, MissouriDespite using his redshirt privilege back in 2014, Miklus makes our report anyway, by dint of wrestling just a single match last season before calling it a season due to injury. Prior to getting hurt, Miklus was poised to continue his quest for four NCAA All-American honors, having placed seventh as a freshman and sixth the following year. Miklus will have to settle for becoming "merely" a three-timer, assuming he makes it back to the podium steps in Cleveland.
Miklus will be a welcome addition back into the Tigers lineup that will be looking to replace a heap of NCAA points lost by the graduation of senior studs J'den Cox and Lavion Mayes.
Chris Weiler, LehighChecking in as our first redshirt freshman on our 184-pound list, Chris Weiler will arrive on Lehigh's campus in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, this fall looking to improve on his successful year of deferred eligibility where he racked up 25 wins against eight losses.
The No. 36-ranked recruit on the 2016 High School Big Board will be the favorite to start for the Mountain Hawks but will face stout competition from several classmates, including Andrew Price and Kyle Gentile, among others. Weiler has been steadily growing into his collegiate weight, as he was a Super 32 champion at 170 pounds back in 2015.
Max Dean, CornellOlder brother Gabe left some mighty big shows to fill, but Max should be prepared to hold his own on the Cornell roster, having deferred enrollment in a greyshirt year and wrestling a full schedule with the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club.
Max was the No. 74-ranked wrestler on the Big Board, which is only one spot below where two-time NCAA champ Gabe was ranked back in 2012. Matching that kind of output would be a tall order for anyone in the high school class of 2016, but the sky is the limit considering Max's talents and ability.
Dean pulled double duty at the junior U.S. Open last weekend, placing sixth in the Greco-Roman division and third in freestyle.
Greg Bulsak, ClarionThe Golden Eagles are expecting big things next year from their No. 89-ranked recruit from the class of 2016. Bulsak has not given Clarion fans any reasons to doubt him, going 16-4 in a solid redshirt campaign.
Bulsak will join returning NCAA qualifiers Jack Gromacki and Brock Zacherl on a very young squad that is primed to do some damage this year when tournament season rolls around.
Andrew Marsden, Oklahoma StateNolan Boyd departs Stillwater as a two-time All-American, surpassing all reasonable expectations for an unranked recruit from the high school class of 2012. We should see Andrew Marsden step into the breach left by Boyd at 184 pounds for the Cowboys.
Though he spot started his true freshman year at 197, Marsden wrestled down at 184 this year while redshirting, amassing a 9-3 record. Marsden was apparently not interested in cutting weight for the junior freestyle tournament at the U.S. Open, however, which he entered and won at 96kg, or about 211 pounds.
Other names to watch out for:
- Gary Jantzer, Utah Valley
- Taylor Venz, Nebraska
- Christian Dietrich and Greg Harvey, Pittsburgh
- Jack Harris, Kent State
- Stephen Loiseau, Drexel
- Alan Clothier, Appalachian State
Nathan Traxler, StanfordThe No. 31-ranked recruit from the 2016 High School Big Board didn't get in any matches as an unattached wrestler during his year of deferred eligibility for the Stanford Cardinal, but Nathan Traxler did stay busy this offseason. He finished as the runner-up in the brutally tough junior freestyle 97kg bracket (about 211 pounds) at the U.S. Open in Las Vegas a couple weeks ago.
The Marmion Academy alum was also a two-time Illinois state champion and a Fargo All-American.
You can watch Traxler blank Ohio State-bound uber recruit Chase Singletary in the semifinals of the U.S. Open in the video below
Colbray had a relatively quiet first year campaign, finishing the season 6-5, including a varsity match up at 285 in the second dual meet of the year. The No. 23-ranked recruit had a more impressive showing at the recent U.S. Open, however, finishing third at 96kg bracket of the junior freestyle tournament.
Samuel Colbray, Iowa State
Newly hired head coach Kevin Dresser will have options at 197 next year, as Colbray will battle with rising redshirt junior Marcus Harrington for the spot in the lineup. Colbray may also take his redshirt season, having forgone that option his true freshman year.
Ben Darmstadt, CornellLike many of his teammates, Darmstadt delayed enrollment at Cornell for a year and wrestled unattached in open tournaments, competing with the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club. He compiled an 18-4 record, including an impressive victory by pinfall over 2017 NCAA All-American Ryan Wolfe of Rider.
The No. 38-ranked recruit of 2016 also doubled up on styles at the U.S. Open, wrestling in both the Greco-Roman and freestyle junior tournaments, both at 96kg. Darmstadt finished seventh in the freestyle bracket and fourth in Greco-Roman.
Eric Schultz, NebraskaCornhuskers fans had the pleasure of watching stalwart All-American Aaron Studebaker man the 197-pound slot in the lineup over the past three years. With Studes' graduation this year, those fans will be looking to Eric Schultz to step into that role this fall.
The No. 35 recruit from the class of 2016 should be well prepared for the job, having run up an impressive 26-3 record while wrestling unattached in open tournaments. Of incidental but still interesting consequence, none of Schultz's losses were to NCAA Division I opponents.
Schultz was unable to place at the U.S. Open after entering a stacked 96kg bracket in the junior freestyle tournament. Schultz was eliminated in the bloodround by Sammy Colbray, reversing the result of a folkstyle match between the two wrestlers from November 2016.
AJ Nevills, Fresno StateRegardless of your partisan rooting interests, it should warm the hearts of every wrestling fan to see the words "Fresno State" featured in an NCAA preview article. The Bulldogs from the Central Valley return to DI action for the first time since 2006, when the program was shut down to due to budgetary concerns.
Now, head coach Troy Steiner is ready to get his team back on the mat, and one of the key cogs to the first Fresno State recruiting class in over a decade is California native AJ Nevills.
A member of the illustrious California wrestling Nevills, AJ spent the previous year training with the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club along with his brother, Penn State student-athlete Nick. But AJ, the No. 47 recruit of 2016, was lured back to his home state and will represent the Bulldogs on the mat this fall.
Kevin Mulligan, RutgersMulligan had one of the busiest years of deferred eligibility for the Scarlet Knights last season, wrestling 36 competitive matches and winning 28 of them. The Rutgers frosh by way of parochial New Jersey powerhouse Bergen Catholic is a two-time Jersey state champion and the No. 62-ranked recruit from 2016.
Mulligan's teammate Matt Correnti made the NCAA tournament as a true freshman last season and is expected to take a redshirt year this upcoming season, potentially using that time to bulk up to 285. In the meantime, Rutgers fans have a very solid replacement waiting in the wings in Mulligan.
Blake Rypel, IndianaHoosiers head coach Duane Goldman scored a big recruiting win by keeping Indianapolis native and the No. 41 recruit in the nation in state. Rypel had his choice of offers but will be donning the cream and crimson colors this fall, much to the approval of the fans in Bloomington.
Rypel had a successful redshirt season, achieving a 13-5 record, including a win over NCAA qualifier Brad Johnson of Oklahoma at the always tough Midlands tournament.
Rypel will face competition within the wrestling room to make the starting lineup, but expectations are high for the state champion from Cathedral High School.
Other names to watch out for:
- Anthony Cassar, Penn State
- Derek White, Oklahoma State
- Jacob Anderson, Cornell
- Jacob Seely, Northern Colorado
- John Jakobsen, Lehigh
- Christian Araneo, Princeton
- Jay Aiello, Virginia
- Wyatt Koelling, Missouri
- Antonio Pelusi, Franklin & Marshall
Jordan Wood, LehighThere are more crazy-good heavyweights returning to the mat after a year of inaction than we can fit in this article, so for once we are only going to be discussing wrestlers who actually took a year of deferred eligibility and not folks who missed the season due to injuries or other reasons.
Jordan Wood definitely fits that bill, having spent the year competing unattached while attending Lehigh University. He compiled a 12-3 record, including wins over NCAA qualifiers Brooks Black and Collin Jensen.
Wood also finished second a couple weeks ago in Las Vegas at the U.S. Open in the junior freestyle tournament. Mountain Hawks fans should be excited to see the No. 20 recruit from the 2016 High School Big Board finally compete in the brown and white, as Wood takes the reigns from graduating round of 12 finisher Doug Vollaro.
You can watch Wood power through Minnesota's likely future heavyweight Rylee Streifel in the semifinals of the U.S. Open in the video below.
Adam Coon, MichiganPerhaps the pound-for-pound best wrestler to be featured in all of this year's redshirt reports, Adam Coon returns to the mats after a one-year hiatus as an NCAA title contender. He'll have a two-time champion and Olympic gold medalist by the name of Kyle Snyder to get by to reach the top of the podium next March, but Coon will start the season with as good a shot as any to unseat the current 285-pound NCAA titleholder.
Coon has a list of wrestling credentials longer than El Chapo's rap sheet, but to very briefly and incompletely summarize, he's a UWW Junior World bronze medalist in both freestyle and Greco-Roman, runner-up at the 2016 USA Olympic Greco-Roman team trials, winner of the 2015 USA University Freestyle championship, and a second- and third-place All-American at the 2015 and 2016 NCAAs, respectively.
Somehow, Coon also found time to major in aerospace engineering and earn the Michigan Academic Athletic Achievement Award.
It's OK to be impressed by Adam Coon.
Michael Hughes, HofstraLike Coon, Hughes took his redshirt season after his true junior year. Hughes made the NCAA round of 16 in 2016 and racked up 28 wins this past season wrestling unattached, against just two losses. Both of those L's came at the Southern Scuffle, where Hughes placed fifth.
Hughes has numerous victories over NCAA qualifiers, including a win over NCAA All-American Denzel Dejournette of Appalachian State. Hofstra head coach Dennis Papadatos could very well be coaching deep into April if Hughes matches the pace he set for himself last season.
Josh Hokit, Fresno StateHead coach Troy Steiner scored a big win for the phoenix-like Bulldogs program when they landed the No. 24 recruit out of California powerhouse Clovis High School.
Josh Hokit went 8-1 during his year of deferred eligibility and will be counted on to lead a Fresno State team that is taking the mat for the first time in over a decade. The California state champ will have his work cut out for him next fall but could very well be a postseason mainstay for years to come.
Matt Stencel, Central MichiganStencel's redshirt resume may lack marquee victories, but there are still plenty of reasons for Chippewa fans to believe the hype around the No. 18 recruit from the class of 2016.
It should be noted that the Fargo and Ironman champ was taking the opportunity afforded to him to grow into the 285-pound weight class, which is quite a bit more poundage than what Stencel wrestled in high school. The active big man from Ohio will have to first earn the starting sport over rising senior Newton Smercheck, but the folks in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, are justifiably excited to see what their blue chip heavyweight can do in a maroon and gold singlet.
Big things are happening in West Gym for Panthers head coach Doug Schwab, and heavyweight Carter Isley is an integral part of the plans to keep the momentum going at Northern Iowa. The 18th-place team at last year's NCAAs graduate its senior 285-pounder, JJ Everard, opening up a space for the No. 58 recruit from 2016.
Carter Isley, Northern Iowa
Isley compiled a commendable 24-8 record during his redshirt campaign. The Iowa native is also a high school state champ and Fargo All-American in both freestyle and Greco-Roman.
Shawn Streck, PurduePurdue head coach Tony Ersland landed a "building block" heavyweight when the No. 29-ranked wrestler from the 2016 Big Board committed to being a Boilermaker. Streck is an Indiana state champ from Merrillville and decided to take his talents about 80 miles south to West Lafayette.
Streck was able to amass a 12-3 record while wrestling unattached at heavyweight, including notching several wins over Division I starters at the highly competitive Midlands tournament. Streck is expected to step into the lineup at 285 for Purdue and replace graduating senior Tyler Kral.
Other names to watch out for:
- Sam Stoll, Iowa
- Amar Dhesi, Oregon State
- Rylee Streifel, Minnesota
- Gannon Gremmel, Iowa State
- Ethan Anderson, Oklahoma State
- Andrew Dunn, Virginia Tech
- Michael McAleavey, The Citadel
- Michael Boykin & Mike Rogers, NC State
That does it for our M.O.A.R.R. If we missed anyone, please let us now so that we may remedy the omission. Thanks for reading!