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The 2020 recruiting battle took a strange detour as programs tried to shore up their classes in the spring. Unsigned seniors were left with a dead period where they weren’t able to travel to campus to get a first-hand look at the facilities. Twenty years ago this would have been a much bigger deal.
Most seniors had made decisions before we all went into quarantine. There are still a few unsigned seniors making decisions. Several posted their commitments this past week while locked down at their homes. The biggest recruit not to make an announcement yet is #21 Jesse Vasquez (CA).
There are several metrics to consider when ranking recruiting classes. Overall talent, lineup fit, immediate impact, long-term impact, and expected starting positions filled are all considered when looking at the classes. High-end prospects carry a lot of weight with the national championship being determined at the individual tournament. If you looked at the classes through the lens of building a dual meet team there would be several teams swapping spots. That's not the current format, so the heavy hitters have a bigger impact.
These rankings only evaluated graduating seniors from the 2020 class and were discussed at length on episode 70 of Who's #1: The Show. There are several teams getting impact transfers or got mid-season transfers that we are not considering for this ranking.
At The Top:
- The Cowboys have the most high-end talent coming in, but there are some injury concerns.
- The Hawkeyes finished second with the luxury of an entire starting lineup returning next year and are already setting themselves up well for 2021.
- The margin between Missouri and Penn State is very small, and hinges a lot on how you think each team will be able to maximize the talent fitting into weight classes, as well as the addition of Greg Kervkliet at heavyweight. We didn't factor him in here.
In The Middle:
- Nebraska and NC State got a boost from hitting needs and replenishing their roster at the optimum weight classes.
- Virginia Tech has better overall talent than their class ranking, but they may lose years in the starting lineup. Many in this class will be battling for a starting spot with other young talent on the roster already in Blacksburg.
- #11 through #14 could be ordered many different ways depending on what you value. West Virginia has the balance of a large class. Michigan State and Wisconsin get the nod for high-end talent. The small classes with high-end talent have much less room for error.
At The Bottom:
- Michigan has so many question marks with the Olympics in limbo that they were difficult to evaluate when looking at how well they filled needs.
- Oklahoma has a nice class, but they will have to get creative with the roster to not lose starting years with roster battles.
The rankings come straight from the Senior Big Board.
#1 Oklahoma State
|165||Elise Brown Ton||TX|
Without injuries, the possibility is there for the Cowboys to be landing the top two prospects in the class, which is where AJ Ferrari and Dustin Plott started their senior year on the Big Board. However, there are question marks when it comes down to health since neither wrestled a match this season. The field closed the gap, but the Cowboys are still unquestionably at the top and should be considered the unanimous #1 class.
There will be a log jam in the upper weights, particularly with Kyle Haas coming in 2021, but it’s never a problem to have the depth to overcome injuries and have everyone challenged for a starting position.
The same concern will play out between 125lbs and 149lbs with a roster chock-full of talent. The Cowboys have been dealing with the roster battles for a long time. John Smith and his staff will figure out how to get their best team on the mat.
Bookends are a challenge for every college roster. Konner Doucet will be a welcomed addition at the upper end. How long can Trevor Mastrogiovanni or Jakason Burks wrestle 125 in their careers? The more options you have at 125lbs, the better.
Five Top-100 recruits is the second most of the class (broken down in full below). I don’t expect anyone from this group to wrestle right away with a stacked lineup returning for the Hawkeyes. When you think about good teams reloading, this is the type of class that fits that definition.
Time is on Iowa’s side. Ybarra, the Schrievers, and Schroeder will have the ability to redshirt and figure out the pecking order down the line. Kennedy and Christenson start the reloading at the upper weights. Six starters will graduate and need to be replaced for the 2021-22 season. This is a solid group to start the replacement process.
Iowa has almost their entire lineup returning next season. With the addition of Jaydin Eierman, the Hawks have a team that will go into the season as solid favorites. Needs will come down the line and this recruiting class starts to prepare the roster for departures next season. Tough to miss, when there are not any immediate needs.
The Tigers appear to be the first beneficiary of Old Dominion dropping their program, as they pick up a commitment from our #12 heavyweight Steven Kolcheff (MI).
The departures of Dylan Wisman and Connor Flynn creates room for the Tigers to get creative with the current roster and the incoming class to maximize production. Much of that depends on O'Toole and Peyton Mocco, who are long time friends and training partners from the Askren Wrestling Academy, working out who goes 165 and who goes 174.
I think the Tigers addressed their needs. There will have to be some sacrifices to optimize weight classes, but the personnel is there.
#4 Penn State
Two Top-10 recruits and four on the final Big Board makes for a solid class for the Nittany Lions. Penn State is loaded with young talent in the upper weights and this class is starting to solidify the lightweights for the departures of Nick Lee and Roman Bravo-Young in the coming seasons.
Austin Boone finished second at 145lbs in the national rankings and could prove to be a steal as he committed late in the game this winter. He's the first wrestler from Michigan to sign with PSU during the Cael era.
This class could be viewed very differently if you believe Robert Howard will be wrestling 125lbs. Bartlett and Howard appear to be positioned to take over 133 and 141 when Lee and RBY depart. That will take some creative shifting of eligibility with redshirts and greyshirts. One scenario could place Howard at 125lbs next season before following up with a redshirt. Lee and Boone will provide immediate depth in the middleweights with the possibility of fighting for starting positions immediately.
125lbs has been a need for the Nittany Lions since the departure of Nick Suriano. Howard may be a stopgap for one season, but it’s difficult to see him being a career 125 pounder.
Another class with five Top-100 recruits. Saunders and Diakomihalis lead the way both being in the top 15. The class is a nice mix of Big Boarders and guys with solid upside that may have flown under the radar.
The uncertainty surrounding Olympic Redshirts and many other layers makes it almost impossible to figure out the lineup without being inside of coach Koll’s office. The initial guess is that Saunders and Diakomihalis will be used right away as the Big Red push for a team trophy, though word is Greg D might end up taking a gap year. It’s hard to see Saunders, McClenahan, and Handlovic separating too much over their college careers. This might limit the production ceiling of an excellent class.
It appears the Big Red have their needs met. The uncertainty around the rescheduling of the Olympic Games and trials have put Cornell in a tough position. It was impossible to see this coming. Any missed needs will be created by extra deferment of eligibility.
|184||Brandyn Van Tassell||UT|
The Huskers’ four Big Board recruits went 176-1 during their senior years, highlighting a class that perfectly meets the needs in Lincoln. Serrano won three Fargo stop signs and four Colorado state titles while Allred pinned his way through single class Indiana after recovering from shoulder surgery that derailed his quest to make the Cadet world team. Both are Top-20 prospects that will have time to adjust to the college game in this room full of veterans.
Haas finished off with his second state crown in single class California and Reno closed out an undefeated career in Missouri, one of the few that the Tigers let out of the Show Me state.
Timing is perfect for the Huskers as they will have the luxury of redshirting their incoming class behind proven stars as they finish out their eligibility. Serrano, Haas, and Allred will all have great mentors that will help bring them along in their college development. There is no such thing as too many 125lbers. Reno will press for the starting spot right away and could be a long term solution at a weight class that is tough to fill for many programs.
Isaiah White leaves a big pair of shoes to fill. The Huskers could get creative, but they would be better positioned with some more depth coming in at the upper middleweights. That may come in the form of Brock Hardy, who is back from his Mormon mission. Hardy was not counted here as he was included in our 2018 recruiting rankings.
#7 North Carolina
Five Top-100 recruits, including a top-10 guy in Lachlan McNeil, place the Tar Heels just outside the top five. This class shows the momentum Coleman Scott and his team have built with both Gavin Kane and Cade Lautt following their older brothers to Chapel Hill.
This is an extremely talented class going into a roster full of young talent. McNeil and Santiago could swing this class if they are able to get all the talented middleweights in the lineup without having to sit someone for a year. Too many heavyweights is like the problem of too many 125lbers. It’s not a problem for the program. However, only one at a time can impact the lineup and score points at the NCAA Championships.
There isn’t a spot on the Tar Heel roster that you can find a glaring hole. They did a nice job restocking the roster. Now they need to figure out how to get the most talent in the lineup at once.
#8 NC State
Only three Top-100 recruits, but the Wolfpack landed several guys right outside the top 100 with the capability of having a career that exceeds that of many on the Big Board. Ed Scott appears to be on the trajectory of a top-tier recruit.
The Wolfpack is set to graduate a large class after next season. The heir apparents are lined up with this recruiting class: Scott in for Hayden Hidlay, Trumble in for Reenan, Jack in Tariq Wilson, and the Bullards being followed by some combination of the four upper-middleweights they're bringing in. If the projected weight classes pan out, there will be a smooth transition in Raleigh.
I don’t think the Wolfpack could have covered their needs any better than lining up the class they are bringing in. They built depth and will have redshirt freshmen ready to fill in the lineup for the 2021-22 season. The only question is, will this group bring a trophy to Raleigh like the 2016 class did in their second year on campus?
#9 Virginia Tech
This is a star-studded class with four guys in the Top-100. Earlier in the season they could have been considered a lock for the top five. I included Brandon Green on the list because he could impact the program without being able to take the mat. Catka could benefit from timing as he is set up for a career that coincides with many of the current top heavyweights graduating right as he enters his prime.
The talent is there for the Hokies to be a little higher than the ninth-ranked recruiting class. The lineup fit is where they are held back. The current roster is going to make it impossible for the incoming class to have maximum impact on the program that they could if they were filling into a different roster. Either the recruit is not going to fill the lineup early in their career, or they are going to be a slight upgrade over the incumbent starters.
For as much as the Hokies were penalized for recruiting over a strong roster, they don’t have a glaring hole on their team that needed to be addressed.
Four Top-100 recruits headline the class headed to Bethlehem with a slew of wrestlers who finished just outside the Big Board but a few spent time on there during their high school careers.
The lightweights will have pretty good timing at 125 and 133lbs. Sheldon Seymour will have a chance to redshirt and grow into the weight class, while Drew Munch will battle with Jaret Lane after a redshirt season.
Manzona Bryant is in a similar situation to Munch where he will battle with an incumbent starter for just one year if the Mountain Hawks don’t get creative with enrollment. Lawrence will join a crop of young talent in the room that includes high school rival Luca Frinzi. JT Davis and Caden Wright may become more important with Chris Weiler now in the transfer portal, though he only had one season of eligibility remaining.
This is a very Lehigh-esque class. The Mountain Hawks always have fantastic depth and this group ensures that for the near future.
One weight that will be a little thin on the Lehigh depth chart is 197lbs. They may have someone projected to grow into that weight class. Lehigh has had success with pushing guys up in weight and I don’t think they’ll have a problem adjusting their roster.
#11 Michigan State
Two Top-100 recruits with Saldate emerging into a superstar. Lujan is a nice pickup that could be a long-term answer at 125lbs that is so coveted. They continue the California pipeline for the fourth time in five years, with Christian Rebotarro, Jaden Enriquez, and Peyton Omania already on the roster.
The Spartans did a nice job lining up 125-165lbs with projected starters exhausting eligibility next season. They could position themselves to have a core group enter the lineup as redshirt freshmen.
They have some time with Cam Caffey at 184lbs, but there is going to be a huge need at 197 and 285lbs. Ideally, they would have started to restock the roster this year before it becomes a “must-get” situation a year from now.
#12 West Virginia
This class could divert from our analysis greatly in either direction. There are four Top-100 recruits in the class, but three of them wrestled the same weight class this season. It is a group that has Tim Flynn written all over it, as he'll need to extract every ounce from them and get at least one to overperform their rank.
The incoming Mountaineers will make a formidable middleweight lineup for years to come if they can spread out from 149-184lbs. Drousias could be a long-term answer at 125lbs. The entire class hinges upon Dowling, Roberts, and Hall being able to be effective in three different weight classes. They all wrestled 152lbs this season. Jack Blumer, who has the length to grow into a 174, was one of the "last out" on the Big Board and will also play a role in getting the class to cover as many weights as possible instead of log jamming behind one another.
The coaching staff did a nice job with this class. Depth at 125 and 133lbs is always welcomed. The Mountaineers have a void at 133lbs and some reinforcement there would have helped a lot.
This is a small class with two Top-100 recruits. Nijenhuis is highly regarded and has the potential to put big points on the board at the NCAA tournament down the line.
With the departures of Dylan Lydy and Christian Brunner the Boilermakers need to reload up top. Nijenhuis will make up some of that loss. Rundell is positioned perfectly to take over after the departure of Devin Schroder.
The Boilermakers could have used some additional help in the upper weights. Replacing Lydy and Brunner is a tough task especially when the roster is light from 174-197lbs.
High-end talent means a lot in the current structure of NCAA tournament scoring. When you land the top recruit in the class you have to feel good about the class. Braxton Amos has the potential to score big points at NCAAs right away.
Medora and Zargo help fill the departure of Cole Martin and Calhoun bolsters the roster giving coach Bono options in the upper weights. It appears the roster has room and is built for Amos to wrestle right away.
Wisconsin has a good distribution on their roster across all weights. The need was at 197lbs and they filled it with the #1 recruit in the class.
Three Top-100 recruits highlight the class that will focus on reloading a roster that is light on upper weights. The Scarlet Knights did well in-state landing three New Jersey state champions.
Poznanski, O’Neill, and Epperly are key additions to a roster that is light from 174-197lbs. Clark will fall into a loaded roster battle that features a few Big Board recruits between 149-165lbs. There will be several capable guys forced out of the lineup there. Shawver will fall into a similar situation as he projects at 133lbs.
The roster at Rutgers is young and talented. If Poznanski, O’Neil and (rFR) Billy Janzer can work things out between 174-197lbs I think Rutgers did well covering their needs.
The Wolverines are similar to Cornell with a lot of athletes left in limbo with the postponement of the Olympic Games. Two top-100 recruits will lead a class that filled the roster with depth across the entire roster.
Gaige Garcia is a double edged sword as his scholarship will be attributed to football, but his time will be divided between the two sports. An immediate need is there at 197lbs for a squad with designs on competing for a team trophy. Garcia redshirting on the gridiron could help push him into the lineup right away on the mat.
Dylan Ragusin could be needed right away, or he could be in a roster battle for years to come. There are lots of moving pieces that include Stevan Micic and Joey Silva. Bullock was a late commitment that could give the Wolverines more flexibility if Myles Amine is out of the lineup for another year.
The Wolverines' need at 197lbs could be met by Garcia. If the split time with football proves to be too much, they might have missed there.
Two top-100 recruits with Stout and Clark headline the class. Don’t be surprised to see weight class movement or creative delays of eligibility to make the most out of this class.
Patrick Brucki has another year left at 197lbs, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Princenton get creative with the roster. Clark was originally thought to be a 133lber, but wrestled up at 138lbs this season. The need down the line will be at both 133 and 141lbs, so bringing in numbers there was important.
The direction change with Kolodzik late in the season left an unforeseen hole at 149lbs. They'll be hoping Miers, who placed 8th at PIAAs as a sophomore and third at National Preps as a junior, can fill in there.
#18 Northern Iowa
Two top-100 recruits in this class could make immediate impacts. Along with the highly ranked recruits the Panther train brought in good numbers in the bottom half of their lineup to create great depth.
The big hole for the Panthers is a 149lbs to replace Max Thomsen. Happel leads the way, but that would take some shifting of the lineup. Nevan Snodgrass appears to be the Steiert’s replacement and could go right away.
197lbs is in a little bit of limbo with Holschlag’s health being in question. Even if he takes the mat next year, an ideal situation would be to have the roster replenished this season With the possibility of a roster battle with Tyrell Gordon being the downside.
Two top-100 recruits headline the Gopher class that did a masterful job filling in the holes left by their departing seniors.
Skatzka, Webster, and Ritter all depart from the upper weights. Stapleton, Salazar, and Skillings replenish the roster between 174 and 197lbs. Nagao is highly regarded and could be the answer to Mitchell McKee’s departure.
The Gophers hit their mark when replenishing the upper weights. There are several options to juggle their lineup to account for the McKee departure in the lower weights.
Two top-100 recruits headline the class. Greyden Penner made a huge move up the board with a great Super32 performance in the fall.
The Sooner lineup was very young this past season with eight underclassmen in the starting lineup. Redshirts are available to maximize eligibility on the top side of the lineup. Tanner and McDougald will make for a deep roster of middle weights.
Redshirt freshman Tommy Hoskins is the only wrestler left on the roster at 125lbs. Every roster could use a few extra 125lbers. Oklahoma could use some depth here in a weight class with a lot of turnover.
|Rank||Team||Top 100 Recruits|
|8||North Carolina State||3|
- Army West Point
- Lock Haven
Army brings in a massive class that features #28 Dalton Harkins (PA) at the top. Columbia is adding #98 Matt Arciuolo (PA) among others as Zach Tanelli begins to pick up recruiting steam. Lock Haven gets a great fit in #25 Tyler Stoltzfus (PA) as he is already a hammer on top. New Navy coach Cary Kolat inherits a group that features #20 Andrew Cerniglia (PA) and gives the EIWA six teams out of the 24 mentioned in this article. Ironman champ Frankie Tal-Shahar (FL) is the marquee addition to the Wildcats, where Matt Storniolo has gotten recruits to exceed their high school credentials before.