How Penn State Can Fit All These Recruits In The Lineup

Matt Shuck Gavin Teasdale

As Penn State has continued to load up on blue-chip recruits the past couple years, fans of other teams have but one source of solace: The Nittany Lions can't start all of them.

There is a belief that some of these wrestlers may be forced to transfer if they ever want to start, so we wanted to lay out PSU's roster for the next few seasons to see if that was true. Our conclusion is that, at this time, only one or two guys will be affected. Additionally, having elite wrestlers on the bench is nothing new for elite teams. It wasn't that long ago at Penn State that (eventual) NCAA champion Matt Brown was on the bench behind Ed Ruth. During Tom Brands' tenure at Iowa Joey Slaton, Thomas Gilman, and Sammy Brooks saw seasons on the bench behind other top-tier wrestlers.

We've already laid out the options for Penn State's 2017-18 lineup here, so let's get into the team's 2018-19 lineup. Several (first-world) problems will persist through 2021-22 for the Nittany Lions.

2018-19

Redshirt: (Brody Teske - 125, Joe Lee - 157, Travis Wittlake - 174/184, Michael Beard - 197, Seth Nevills - 285)
Depth:  (Jered Cortez - 141, Jarod Verkleeren - 149, Mason Manville - 165)

125 - Gavin Teasdale, Fr.
133 - Roman Bravo-Young, Fr.
141 - Nick Lee, So.
149 - Brady Berge, RFr.
157 - Jason Nolf, RSr.
165 - Vincenzo Joseph, RJr.
174 - Mark Hall, Jr.
184 - Bo Nickal, RSr.
197 - Anthony Cassar, RJr.
285 - Nick Nevills, RSr.

The Nick Lee/Jered Cortez question at 141 is one that exists through next season. However, it works better for the incoming recruits to have Lee wrestle as a true freshman and true sophomore. Below them, Gavin Teasdale and Roman Bravo-Young could wrestle right out the gate at 125 and 133, respectively. This allows Penn State to redshirt Brody Teske.

At 149, there is a question about Brady Berge or Jarod Verkleeren, with the one who doesn't start being in a potentially precarious situation to ever find the lineup. Jason Nolf, Vincenzo Joseph, Mark Hall, and Bo Nickal continue to hold their spots, and Seth Nevills slots in for his brother, Nick.

But at 197, they have a similar problem with Lee and Cortez. The oft-injured Anthony Cassar will be a junior in 2018-19, so would PSU start Cassar and give Michael Beard a redshirt? Or if Beard is good enough, will he get the nod right out of the chute, keeping Cassar on the bench his whole career?

2019-20

Redshirt: (Adam Busiello - 125, Roman Bravo-Young- 133)
Depth: (Jarod Verkleeren - 149, Mason Manville - 65/74, Anthony Cassar - 197)

125 - Brody Teske, RFr.
133 - Gavin Teasdale, So.
141 - Nick Lee, Jr.
149 - Brady Berge, RSo.
157 - Joe Lee, RFr.
165 - Vincenzo Joseph, RSr.
174 - Mark Hall, Sr.
184 - Travis Wittlake, RFr.
197 - Michael Beard, RFr.
285 - Seth Nevills, RFr.

Heading into 2019-20 we could start to see a musical chairs of redshirts at the lightweights. Teske comes off a redshirt, and Bravo-Young goes on one. This could also of course be Teasdale, but the point is, one may very well be taking the year off. As you will see, redshirting RBY now makes more sense later.

Once again, the Berge/Verkleeren spot at 149 is an issue, particularly if Berge can only hold the weight for a couple years. Mark Hall closes out his storied career in an Olympic year, the only senior on the team beside Vincenzo Joseph.

We originally had Hall taking an Olympic redshirt here, and it is of course still an option. But we have been led to believe he is wrestling straight through, four years in a row. That same Olympic redshirt applies to Mason Manville in Greco as well, but the only real issue there arises if both take it.

We've already mentioned the two-year starting conundrum for Beard and Cassar. Nevills continues to hold down heavyweight, and Travis Wittlake slides right in to take over for Bo Nickal.

2020-21

Redshirt: (Gavin Teasdale - 133)
Depth: (Jarod Verkleeren - 149, Mason Manville - 165)

125 - Brody Teske - RSo.
133 - Adam Busiello, RFr.
141 - Roman Bravo-Young, RSo.
149 - Nick Lee, Sr.
157 - Brady Berge, RJr.
165 - Joe Lee, RSo.
174 - Mason Manville, RJr.
184 - Travis Wittlake, RSo.
197 - Michael Beard, RSo.
285 - Seth Nevills, RSo.

In the post-Olympic year, Teske is in his second starting year at 125, and now Gavin Teasdale takes a redshirt. Redshirt freshman Adam Busiello tags in at 133, with RBY bumping up to 141.

Nick Lee bumps up to 149 in his senior year, with Berge going up to 157 and Joe Lee up to 165. The obvious guy this lineup affects is Verkleeren, but Manville takes over for Hall.

Wittlake starts for a second year in a row, and Beard has no more challengers. Nevills anchors the lineup.

2021-22

Depth: (Jarod Verkleeren - 149)

125 - Brody Teske, RJr.
133 - Gavin Teasdale, RJr.
141 - Adam Busiello, RSo.
149 - Roman Bravo-Young, RJr.
157 - Brady Berge, RSr.
165 - Joe Lee, RJr.
174 - Mason Manville, RSr.
184 - Travis Wittlake, RJr.
197 - Michael Beard, RJr.
285 - Seth Nevills, RJr.

The lightweight situation finally comes to a head in 2021-22. Someone will be going up to a weight that may be too big for him, and/or we see a situation in which a wrestle-off winner gets to pick his lighter weight.

Can RBY get big enough to wrestle 149? Is Buseillo or Teasdale going to quickly outgrow 125/133? If not, is Teske the odd man out? I don't think we'll know the answer to that for several years.

We cannot emphasize hard enough how very possible it is for all of these situations to change. There are unquestionably recruits who are currently high school sophomores and juniors that Penn State will be recruiting, some of whom may be lightweights. At no point in the writing of this did we want to slot in recruits who have not yet committed to PSU. But right now, this is our best guess as to how Cael Sanderson and his coaching staff can play with their lineup moving forward.

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