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As you saw in the Virginia Tech depth chart breakdown, the Hokies will once again be in contention to be a top-10 team at the NCAA Championships next March. Before Virginia Tech can win on the nation's biggest stage, they have to win on the recruiting trail. As you'll see below, the Hokies have been one of the most consistent programs in the country at landing the top talent in the United States, and they will once again be in contention for blue-chip recruits in the class of 2021 and 2022.
The Last Decade In Hokie Recruiting
Five times since 2011, Virginia Tech has finished in the top 10 of the recruiting rankings for a 10-year average of 14.4. That success has led to big-time success at the NCAA Championships. Since 2011, the Hokies have finished in the top 10 six times, twice were 11th, and brought home a team trophy in 2016.
Level of need: Upgrades needed
2020 signees: #51 Sam Hillegas (North Hills, PA); #68 Eddie Ventresca (Pope John, NJ)
Current 2021 verbal commitments: None
2021 & 2022 uncommitted targets: #21 Cooper Flynn (McDonogh School, MD); #66 Erik Roggie (St. Christopher's, VA); #1 Nic Bouzakis (Wyoming Seminary, PA); #2 Ryan Crookham (Notre Dame Green Pond, PA)
Sam Latona has four years of eligibility remaining, and the Hokies also signed a top-100 recruit in the class of 2020, Eddie Ventresca, who projects as a 125-pounder, so the upgrades aren't needed there.
There are no long-term answers at 133 or 141 that are currently on the roster, signed in the class of 2020, or committed at the moment. However, in the depth chart and long-term lineup article, I broke down the many options the Hokies have in terms of wrestlers shifting weight classes throughout their career, and I don't want to go over that again but, Latona could move up and eliminate the need for a 133-pounder. That would also open the door for National Prep champion and top-25 recruit in the class of 2021, Connor Flynn, who listed the Hokies as one of his top schools. Three-time Virginia state champion Erik Roggie, who is a top-65 recruit in the class of 2021, could also be an option for the Hokies. Both hammers project as 125-pounders and things are getting a little crowded there in Blacksburg.
Where the Hokies need help at the most in this weight range is at 141, and they are targeting the top two ranked wrestlers in the class of 2022. While Bouzakis and Ryan Crookham both wrestled 126 last season, I believe that they aren't done growing yet. The Hokies also have a connection with Bouzakis as Associate Head Coach, Jared Frayer, is a fellow Florida native and very familiar with the family.
Recently Virginia Tech has established a pipeline to Pennsylvania landing Hunter Catka, Sam Hillegas, Clayton Ulrey, and a few weeks ago landed a commitment from top-25 recruit in the class of 2021, Trey Kibe. Could Crookham become the most recent Pennsylvania hammer to head to Blacksburg?
The Hokie coaching staff is hopeful that Hillegas can hold 141, but I'm not confident that he can do it longer than a season or two at the most.
Watch Bouzakis and Crookham battle in the Ironman finals.
Level of need: It wouldn't hurt
2020 signees: #57 Clayton Ulrey (Lower Dauphin, PA)
Current 2021 verbal commitments: None
2021 uncommitted targets: #8 Caleb Henson (Woodland, GA)
Bryce Andonian has three years of eligibility remaining at 149, Connor Brady hasn't wrestled a varsity match yet, and Mekhi Lewis still has three years of remaining after his Olympic redshirt.
The Hokies also already signed the replacement for Lewis in the class of 2020 when they inked Pennsylvania state finalist and Cadet world team member, Clayton Ulrey.
The big target in this weight range for the Hokies, and likely North Carolina, and North Carolina State is Georgia standout Caleb Henson. A top-10 recruit in the class of 2022, Henson has been top six at Fargo, Super 32, and FloNationals at loaded weights.
Brady is the only listed 157-pounder on the roster so it wouldn't hurt to get more depth there than just Henson. The Peach State hammer wrestled 145 as a sophomore so I would expect him to be a 157-pounder by the time he got to Blacksburg if he does choose the Hokies.
Watch Henson roll at the Cadet World Team Trials.
Level of need: Threat level midnight
2020 signees: #6 Hunter Catka (Sun Valley, PA); Sam Fisher (Fauquier, VA); Nathan Warden (Christiansburg, VA); Simeone Holmes (Cosby, VA); Colby Kassir (Cape Henry Collegiate, VA);
Current 2021 verbal commitments: #24 Trey Kibe (Mifflin County, PA)
2021 & 2022 uncommitted targets: #11 Nick Feldman (Malvern Prep, PA); #7 Rylan Rogers (Blair Academy, NJ)
I say "threat level midnight", but that level of need is really only at one weight. At 184, Hunter Bolen still has two years of eligibility remaining and in the class of 2020, the Hokies signed a trio of Virginia natives. However, they might not be done at that weight as top-10 recruit in the class of 2022, Rylan Rogers, is a Hokie target.
The biggest need on the roster is at 197. Stanley Smeltzer did not qualify for the NCAA Championships a year ago and still has two years of eligibility remaining with no clear replacement waiting in the wings. The aforementioned Rogers wrestled 182 a year ago and could possibly grow into a 197-pounder. The Hokies are also a top school and have a connection with the 11th-ranked recruit in the class of 2022, Nick Feldman. The Malvern Prep standout's father was the Hokies second-ever All-American. The National Prep champion projects as a 197-pounder, but his dad was a heavyweight on the collegiate level.
Finally, at heavyweight, the Hokies are in good shape as NCAA qualifier John Borst has two-years of eligibility remaining and the Hokies signed the sixth rated heavyweight in the class of 2020 and two-time Pennsylvania state champion, Hunter Catka.
Watch Feldman beat Princeton commit Peyton Craft to win a National Prep Championship.
Keep it locked on FloWrestling all month as we continue to roll out depth chart breakdowns for the nation's top D1 programs and also take a look at the high school wrestlers they are targeting.