2014 Recruiting Class Rankings

2014 Recruiting Class Rankings

Rating the Division I Wrestling recruiting classes for the Class of 2014.

A heartbeat of mine. I suppose I love the narrative; the development from high school freshman through college signee and onwards. Over the years it’s become a basic equation.

From a head coaching perspective, wrestling is a simpler puzzle than other sports.

Recruiting --> Development --> Results.

There is no game planning. There is no strategy. Recruit the best you can, develop them, and win.

Below you’ll find analysis to differentiate recruiting classes, which of course, is not without subjectivity or interpretation.

Here is what I look at...

Productivity - Getting utility out of guys. Points in my book for (potentially) starting positions. While it might be possible to foresee a flame out or an overestimation of talent, no one can account for injuries or weight changes. This is a picture at this time with the best information and projections we have.

Fit - I put a lot of weight in to how recruits fit in to the projected line-up.

Rankings - Not wholly indicative of what I think their potential is. Some #3’s I just feel, for a variety of reasons, will never pan out at the next level. While some #16’s are hidden gems with their best days ahead of them.

and not:

Where They’re Going - A lot of times your gut reaction when evaluating classes is to think “What will (insert coach) do with him.” The logical conclusion is that the better program/coach will do more with a wrestler of the same caliber than one with a lesser reputation. I try not to look at it like that. I evaluate the potential of a wrestler going to Iowa the same as I would do if he were going to Our Sister of The Poor University.

On to the analysis...

#1-Penn State Nittany Lions
5-Year Cycle: #6, #18, #4, #3

Ranked Recruits:

#1-Jason Nolf, PA (165)

#1-Nick Nevills, CA (HWT)

#2-Bo Nickal, TX (184)

#7-Corey Rasheed, NY (174)

#16-Gary Dinmore, NJ (157)

Others: Jordan Pagano, NJ (157); Kyle Baker, PA (157); Anthony Cassar, NJ (197)

In State College: The Lions are in the midst of a dynasty predicated upon a perfect combination of recruiting and coaching. With the graduation of (and schollies coming off the books for) Taylor and Ruth, the Nits desperately needed a monster class. And they got it.

True to their track record, the staff went after talent with upside and exceptional character; particularly, the C’s (Casey, Cody, Cael) wrangled in the N’s (Nevills, Nolf, and Nickal).

Why They’re Here: Both quantity and quality. The Lions got three of the most coveted recruits in the nation and at some point could have half their starters from this class alone.

It goes without saying that there are no ‘sure things’ in wrestling recruiting. But Nolf, Nevills, and Nickal are high character kids who live the sport and have their priorities in line off the mat.

Penn State owes at least 3 of their 4 National Championships to the bonus points of Taylor and Ruth. Replicating that is highly unlikely, but all three of these guys are high-pace, point-scoring monsters who will get their share of bonus.

Additionally, the Lions got a huge boost in the late period as 3 state finalists committed to them. A Top 50 prospect whose value might be a bit underscored because of a lack of competition in major national events, New York’s Rasheed is a total package with advanced skills both on his feet and on the mat. And it gets better - he has the frame to grow in to a 174, right where PSU could use him.

While Dinmore was rather inconsistent in the offseason, he certainly was a gamer when it was showtime. He was a 3x State Runner-Up, losing in the finals to Anthony Ashnault twice and Jack Clark as a SR. He joins fellow Garden Stater, Anthony Cassar, who was an undefeated state champ this year.

Flashback Stat: PSU does a good job at spreading out/getting production from multiple classes. I.E., they don’t graduate gluts of talent that leave them depleted. Next year’s starting line-up will likely feature at least two starters from four different recruiting classes.

Needs for Next Year: As the above stat indicates, the roster is paced and filled with quality that leaves very imperatives. That being said, they desperately need a 125lber. Nico has just one year left. They should also target 141/149’s for the impending departure of the Altons.

#2-Ohio State Buckeyes
5-Year Cycle: #9, #9, #2, #8


#1-Kyle Snyder, MD (197)

#2-Micah Jordan, OH (157)

#2-Thomas Haines, PA (HWT)

Others: Cody Burcher, OH (141); JP Newton, OH (149); Ryan Harris, OH (174); Seth Williams, OH (184)

In Columbus: The Buckeyes are on the verge of what could be a run of national team titles and this class factors in both immediately and down the road. Kyle Snyder was the #1 prospect this year and perhaps one of the most college-ready high schoolers in history. He’ll start out of the gates as a potential NCAA finalist and as a major point scorer to what should assuredly be a Buckeye team that has a podium finish.

Why They’re Here: The surety of Snyder and the promise of Micah Jordan and Haines. While there’s less data on Micah due to less national competition, his talent is undeniable. He’s a 4x AA talent with the pedigree and character to see it through. No question marks with him. Then you have Haines, the most accomplished heavyweight in PA history. He’s one of the most athletic heavies to come along in quite a while and will be in room with a ridiculous amount of resources to make him transition. In the end, you’re looking at three major point scorers in a program that could have a historic run.

Why They’re Not Higher: The big three for OSU and PSU are basically a wash. The edge for PSU comes with Rasheed, Cassar, and Dinmore. There’s also the question at HWT, where Tavanello came on strong at the end of the year. Most project Haines to win that spot over Tavanello, however if he doesn’t, it reduces the value of the class.

Flashback Stat: Ohio State has brought in small, star-studded classes almost every year for the last 5 years, all which will contribute to their 2015 success. 2010: Logan and Demas, 2011: DiJulius, Hunter, Courts, 2012: Martin and Tavanello, 2013: Bo and Tomasello.

Needs for Next Year: Micah will take over after Demas. So the real area of emphasis needs to be 141 when the Logan Era ends.

#3-Northwestern Wildcats
5-Year Cycle: NR, #13, NR, #2


#1-Bryce Brill, IL (157)

#1-Johnny Sebastian, NJ (174)

#2-Stevan Micic, IN (125/133)

Others: Sammy Gross, OH (133); Regis Durbin, IL (197); Conan Jennings, OH (HWT)

In Evanston: Drew Pariano has done an outstanding job in all facets of running the ship: recruiting (this class), development (Jason Tsirtsis, Pierce Harger), and administration (adding Jay Borschel, redshirting Tsirtsis). The Wildcats had an NCAA finalist each of the last two years and with the talent from this haul, that trend could continue.

Why They’re Here: A monster class with three guys about as good as it gets at the HS level. Along with Tsirtsis, who just ended his Freshmen season, Schmitt (133/141) and Sliga (184) who are coming off redshirt, you could be looking at a group of Top 4-ish NCAA finishers in a couple of years. Development of a few other guys could have the Wildcats poised for podium finishes.

Why They’re Not Higher: PSU has a bit more. OSU (with Snyder) has a bit more of immediate impact. Brill should be ready to roll out and training with Tsirtsis everyday will set him up for success. But being cautious and looking at the current environment in DI, Micic will be entering a loaded 125 mix. Sebastian will need to rehab an injured shoulder and adjust to a lower (174) weight class. There should be little concern for either guy, but when splitting hairs in class analysis, it warrants a notation.

Flashback Stat: As you can see from the 5-year cycle, Northwestern has been engaged in the ‘every-other-year’ process when it comes to recruiting. They should now be set up to pluck just one or two studs per year in 2015 and 2016 to round out what should be a powerful and balanced line-up.

Needs for Next Year: Northwestern has exactly one wrestler on the roster at the following weights: 165 (Harger), 197 (Polizzi), and HWT (McMullan). Those weights are imperatives for 2015.

#4-Oklahoma State Cowboys
5-Year Cycle: #8, #4, #5, #13


#1-Chance Marsteller, PA (165/174)

#3-Ryan Blees, ND (157)

#5-Chandler Rogers, OK (165/174)

#6-Gary Wayne Harding, OK (141)

#7-Mike Magaldo, NJ (133/141)

#8-Preston Weigel, KS (197)

#20-Jacobe Smith, OK (165)

Others: Dusty Hone, UT (133); Tanner Allen, OK (HWT)

In Stillwater: Another year, another top flight recruiting class for the country’s most decorated program. Six Top 10’s and one of the most celebrated careers in Marsteller will have the Cowboys ready and reloaded.

Why They’re Here: Marsteller and Blees should be full fledged producers for years to come. And Rogers, when he gets in to the line-up will prove valuable. I had them about even with Cornell, but Weigel gives them an edge, in my opinion. I think he’s highly under valued and that he’ll provide valuable service time.

Why They’re Not Higher: OSU has a (good) conundrum on their hands and the value of this class will be affected by it. Dieringer is moving to 165 and Collica will most certainly not be back at 141. It probably opens a slot for Blees to start (at 157) sooner rather than later. However, where do Chance and Rogers go? Crutchmer and Jordan Rogers, both just Sophs next year, will most likely man 74 and 84.

In the end, they could just redshirt everyone they can and figure it out later. But there is a scenario where this class, as good as it is, gets marginalized.

Well then, why are they this high? Because at some point, and despite all of the potential line-up hypotheticals, at least 4 of these guys will be in the starting line-up at the same time and propel OK State to a podium finish. It’s the upside. They’re just too talented. Cornell might get more years of service out of their 2014 class, but OK State will get more NCAA medals.

Flashback Stat: Oklahoma State and Ohio State are the only two schools to wrangle Top 10 Classes each of the last four years.

Needs for Next Year: With Klimara gone, the Cowboys need a 125 solution. They could also start thinking about life after Austin Marsden at HWT.

#5-Cornell Big Red
5-Year Cycle: NR, #8, #3, #4


#4-Jon Jay Chavez, ID (157/165)

#6-Jeramy Sweany, CA (HWT)

#7-Dalton Macri, PA (125)

#7-Joey Galasso, PA (149)

#8-Dillon Artigliere, NJ (174)

#15-Drew Garcia, MI (174/184)

#17-Brandon Womack, AL (165)

Others: Will Koll, NY (133); Kyle Simaz, MI (157); Jake Anderson, PA (197)

In Ithaca: Cornell continues to solidify itself as a perennial force. Both their recruiting and development have been outstanding. The scary part is, they’re extremely young. As a Junior next year, Nahshon Garrett will be the elder statesmen of the group.

Why They’re Here: Koll and Hahn did a great job identifying needs and landing future superstars. Macri will slide in for Nahshon (whenever that may be), Galasso, for Villalonga. Move Realbuto and Palacio up and get Chavez in at 57. They also got Sweany as their future HWT, a spot that Cornell has struggled with. Four starters on a championship-caliber team? That’s the way to recruit.

Why They’re Not Higher: I’m really high on Artigliere. However he’ll probably be stuck behind some combo of Palacio-Jake Taylor-Gabe Dean, potentially minimizing his value. Same can be said of Womack behind Realbuto/Palacio.

Flashback Stat: Perhaps more than any other program, Cornell has had success developing guys that weren’t considered blue chippers in to national forces. Nahshon Garrett, Cam Simaz, Steve Bosak, Gabe Dean. What a run.

Needs for Next Year: With their youth, Cornell seems to have all bases covered. And they have incredible depth, too, particularly from 41 to 84. The development of Steve Congenie will determine if they need to target 197 going forward.

#6-Nebraska Cornhuskers
5-Year Cycle, #3, #11, #1, #10


#3-Tyler Berger, OR (149/157)

#4-Derek White, OK (197)

#8-Hayden Tuma, ID (141/149)

#10-Colton Adams, NE (141/149)

#11-Nick Bennett, MI (157)

Others: Sean Murphy, ND (133); Jake Eccles, LA (157); Dustin Williams, KS (165)

In Lincoln: The Huskers have been one of the most consistent recruiters over the last decade. With this group, they bring in the imperative replacements for Green and Sueflohn.

Why They’re Here: Nebraska landed James Green and Jake Sueflohn in the class of 2011 and started them off and running without redshirts. Berger and Tuma will get that benefit, and with Adams and Bennett, the middle of the Husker line-up could be set for four straight years. They’re that good. What’s more is that Bennett and White might be two of the most underrated recruits in the country. Bennett has been a little inconsistent, but he’s a monster slayer. White has been the opposite; he’s extremely consistent but without the elite wins. They’ll get immense production out of this group of 5 potential starters to go along with a core of Lambert, Montoya, and Dudley.

Why They’re Not Higher: This Husker group compares closely to the Cornell class, but is less polished than, say, Oklahoma State. There is also the possibility of them blocking each other from 41-57 if they can’t stretch Bennett to a 165.

Flashback Stat: Nebraska is the only team to be in the Top 11 the past six seasons in recruiting rankings. However, last year’s #3 class turned out to be a bit of a mirage as transfers Destin McCauley, Pat Downey, and Anthony Abidin didn’t work out.

Needs for Next Year: The Huskers have had immense struggles in getting ‘their guy’ at heavyweight. Donny Longendyke was the #3 HWT in the country when they signed him in 2011. When he didn’t work out, it threw their plans into disarray at that weight. They’ll need a HWT and a 174 to replace Robert Kokesh.

#7-Illinois Illini
5-Year Cycle: #5, #7, NR, #18


#2-Michael Pixley, MO (197)

#4-Jered Cortez, IL (125/133)

#5-Brock Ervin, KY (141/149)

Others: Andre Lee, IL (197)

In Champaign: The youth movement for the Illini continues. Mark Perry is a recruiting whiz. Illinois graduates just two starters this year and two after 2015 to give them an amazingly talented core from their three consecutive Top 7 classes where eight individuals were ranked in the Top 5.

Why They’re Here: Pixley and Cortez are bona fide stars that should be 4-year starters and collect several AA honors. Both were ranked #1 in the country at points throughout their career. And both guys come at areas of needs. Pixley will take the place of the departed Mario Gonzalez while Cortez will assume the roll of Jesse Delgado. Ervin is a scrappy and savvy talent that could boost the value of this class if he can break into the line-up sooner rather than later.

Why They’re Not Higher: I love efficiency. And Illinois did that with a small and spectacular class. No fluff (wasted money) here. But classes above them have more projected starters.

Flashback Stat: In their last three classes, Illinois has landed eight individuals were ranked in the Top 5.

Needs for Next Year: Depth in the 174-197 range, with Dallago and Gonzalez now gone.

#8-Maryland Terrapins
5-Year Cycle: NR, NR, NR, #11


#4-Alfred Bannister, MD (149)

#7-Josh Llopez, MD (174)

Others: Anthony Genco, Md (125); Adam Whitesell, MD (133); Matt Pente, MD (149); Toby Hague, MD (157); Patrick Gerish, NJ (165); Garrett Wesneski, PA (197)

In College Park: Two out of three ain’t bad. Kerry McCoy and staff saw the talented Maryland Class of 2014 coming a long time ago and allocated those scholarship dollars accordingly. They landed two of the three, missing on on uber prospect Kyle Snyder.

Why They’re Here: A #4 and a #7 usually doesn’t get you this high. But Bannister and Llopez aren’t your typical 4 and 7. Both of their weights are loaded and they are right there with the rest of their cohorts. They’re great talents with AA written on them if they develop, and they are vital to the success of a Terrapin program entering the Big Ten.

Why They’re Not Higher: It all hangs on just two recruits. Should either not work out, the value of the class is busted.

Flashback Stat: This is Maryland’s first ranked recruiting class since 2010 when they landed four Top 7 guys including Spencer Myers.

Needs for Next Year: The Terps will get Ryan Diehl in next year for 133/141. They’ll need to hit the upperweights hard on the recruiting trail with Sheptock and Boley graduated and Myers following them this year.

#9-Indiana Hoosiers
5-Year Cycle: NR, NR, #25, #12


#3-Jake Danishek, OH (157)

#12-Cole Weaver, MI (141)

#12-Fletcher Miller, IN (HWT)

#18-Bryce Martin, CA (174/184)

Others: David Conte, CA (125); Logan Marcicki, MI (165/174); Dakota Thacker, IN (197); Gavan Jolley-Little, IN (HWT)

In Bloomington: The good news? Indiana’s class is real solid this year. The bad news? A track record of attrition means their roster is thin.

Why They’re Here: I value blue chippers and Danishek is just that. He is talented enough to be considered a prospect you could make in to a national finalist. Weaver is a proven warrior on the national scene. Fletcher Miller, Bryce Martin and Logan Marcicki also have the potential to be regulars in the starting line-up. The Hoosiers should get solid production from them. Combine their potential with few roadblocks in getting in the line-up, and Indiana could be looking at 5 of their 10 starters from this class alone.

Why They’re Not Higher: Outside of Danishek, the group is solid-but-not-spectacular. Potential? Yes. Locks? Not quite. They need to have work ethic and they’ll need to be developed.

Flashback Stat: Some of the high profile prospects that have left the program in the last 3 years: Ryan Nieman, Brandon Wright, Quinton Murphy, Kyle Springer.

Needs for Next Year: Replacement for Duca (125) and as much depth as they can get.

#10-Stanford Cardinal
5-Year Cycle: #18, #19, #24, NR


#1-Joey McKenna, NJ (141)

#9-Brian Rossi, IL (125)

#12-Paul Fox, CA (157)

#14-Mason Pengilly, CA (133)

#16-Isaiah Locsin, CA (133)

Others: Walker Dempsey, CA (149), Boomer Fleming, OR (184/197)

In Palo Alto: With consistent Top 25 recruiting classes, Stanford should have a really balanced line-up going forward. They are particularly deep at the bookends; 125/133 and 184-HWT.

Why They’re Here: I love sure things and McKenna is one of America’s elite recruits. He should be in the AA mix early in his career. Fox is a guy I’ve always been high on. He has both the grit and the talent to make it at this level.

Why They’re Not Higher: It’s difficult to get quality wrestlers in to Stanford with their high academic standards. As such, Stanford also signs the best talent they can regardless of weight or need. Three of their recruits will be at weights (125/133) where they have legitimate conference championship title contenders in Evan Silver and Connor Schram.

Flashback Stat: With three 125/133 prospects, Stanford has brought in six in the last three classes.

Needs for Next Year: Stanford is REALLY young and covered at most weights. 149’s wouldn’t hurt if McKenna is determined to be a career 41.

#11-Oklahoma Sooners
5-Year Cycle: #19, #6, NR, #9


#3-Ryan Millhof, GA (125/133)

#7-Andrew Dixon, OK (HWT)

#11-Joel Dixon, OK (184)

#13-Lance Dixon, OK (184/197)

#16-Jacob Rubio, TX (133/141)

#19-Nathan Marek, OK (174/184)

Others: Noah Teaney, MO (133/141); Michael Hamilton, OK (149/157); Gage Stallworth, OK (165); Cale Wilson, OK (174/184)

In Norman: The Sooners will have to reload after losing Patterson, Maple, Howe, and Rutt. What’s left on the roster is Cody Brewer and a cast of talented high schoolers (via their last two classes), that will be looking to prove themselves on the college level.

Why They’re Here: Well, they should have to recruit upperweights for half a decade. The Dixons, Marek, and Wilson should make good on that. Millhof is one of the more college-ready prospects this year. Don’t be surprised to see him start out of the gates at 125. Rubio is a solid prospect that had a fabulous Fargo last year. He should slot in and solidify the lightweights.

Why They’re Not Higher: I’ve been really high on Marek. But like the Dixons, they’re more athletic than they are polished. Mark Cody is one of the best big man coaches in the country. So they’ll be ready. But it might be a couple years. Plus, OU is young up top with sophomores Chaid (184), Johnson (197), and Larson (HWT).

Flashback Stat: Kendric Maple wasn’t ranked coming out of high school in Kansas. Such a great career that I didn’t see coming.

Needs for Next Year: Lightweights, obviously. Millhof, Rubio, Ollie Pierce, Shayne Tucker...they should anchor the front half of the line-up. But there is little depth behind them.

#12-Iowa Hawkeyes
5-Year Cycle: #21, #1, #22, #1


#3-Sam Stoll, MN (HWT)

#7-Seth Gross, MN (141)

#11-Logan Ryan, IA (149)

#16-Burke Paddock, NY (165/174)

Others: Tagen Lambotte, KS (149/157); Mitch Bowman, IA (174); Lance Evans, IA (HWT)

In Iowa City: One of the more discordant topics among recruiting dorks like myself is how Iowa fares on the trail. On one hand, they still land a good haul every year. They’ve had two #1 classes in the 5 year cycle. And perhaps most importantly (on the mat), Iowa has been right there with the Top 5. But many who follow it closely, including myself, feel like it could be much better.

Why They’re Here: Iowa did a good job targeting needs. 141 and 149, for whatever reason, haven’t been the most consistent for the Hawks. Gross is a proven fighter that should be in the mix and Ryan’s #11 ranking is a bit conservative; he could prove much better than that. They’re also preparing for life after Telford with Sam Stoll, who has been one of the best in the country at HWT the last three years. Paddock could be the heir apparent to Evans at 174.

Why They’re Not Higher: While Gross and Ryan are are certainly talented, they’re projects that will need development. How much of an improvement they will be over guys like Kelly/Grothus/Dziewa remains to be seen. And as good as Stoll is, Iowa will have Aaron Bradley coming back from a Mormon mission next year, which may or may not play a part in the immediate production of Stoll.

Flashback Stat: Want to know how important recruiting is? Iowa’s #1 Class of 2010 has dominated the ten varsity spots in their line-up. They got four bona fide starters in Evans, Telford, Moore, and Dziewa (and Mike Kelly). With their #1 Class of 2012 (Burak, Gilman, Clark, Brooks, Meyer), those two classes will make up eight or nine starters on a team that will be in the national title hunt next year.

Needs for Next Year: The Hawkeyes are set in the upperweights with Meyer-Brooks-Burak and three young HWT prospects. 25 and 33 (Gilman/Clark) should be set for a while as well. It’s the middle that needs addressing unless and until someone proves to be ‘the man’ for the next 2 or 3 years.

#13-Iowa State Cyclones
5-Year Cycle:

Recruits: #11, #10, NR, #6

#3-Nathan Boston, KY (125)

#9-Marcus Harrington, IA (197)

#10-Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, NY (141/149)

#15-Logan Breitenbach, MD (157/165)

Others: Dante Rodriguez, NE (133); Ryan Schuman, MN (141/149)

In Ames: While the regular seasons weren’t especially pretty for the Cyclones, they show up in March. Coach Jackson has had them ready to roll for the post-season and he’s done a solid job of recruiting and building depth in the room with this, his third straight Top 15 class.

Why They’re Here: Six quality kids. Boston should be a staple in the line-up and a multiple-time qualifier. The folks in Iowa rave about Harrington, who’s coming off a solid Fargo. Even Rodriguez and Schuman could see valuable service time for the Cyclones. The six of them could get a gang of varsity seasons in.

Why They’re Not Higher: It’s a difficult class to evaluate. Production is probably a lock. It’s ceiling that’s in question. In other words, they’ll get to the dance, but will they make noise there?

Flashback Stat: From their #6 2010 Class, only Gadson and Moreno have been highly productive. Others in the class: Luke Goettl, Ryak Finch, Joey Cozart, Mike England and Brandon Jones.

Needs for Next Year: Jackson had an entire roster to re-build, and he’s done a great job. There is a really good amount of depth on the roster with no glaring needs. If I were the Cyclones, I’d spend the next two years recruiting only the bluest of blue chippers and bringing in small classes.

#14-Minnesota Golden Gophers
5-Year Cycle:

Recruits: #16, #14, #13, #5

#4-Tommy Thorn, MN (133)

#5-Nathan Rose, MN (197)

#7-Ethan Lizak, PA (125)

#19-Jack Bass, VA (157)

Others: Collin Carr, IL (184); Will Balow, MN (184/197)

In Minneapolis: The Gopher staff is one of the best and most consistent recruiting teams in the country. The last four years have brought small and modest classes that, on their own merits, might have been higher if it weren’t for the tough road to starting jobs due to their incredible roster depth. It certainly helps that Minnesota is one of the best at developing talent.

Why They’re Here: Tommy Thorn should have ‘star’ written all over him. He’ll be in the AA mix for sure. This is ‘his’ class. Minnesota had a difficult time finding a replacement for 4-year juggernaut Zach Sanders. They hope they found it, of all places, in Pennsylvania. While his athleticism isn’t off-the-charts, Lizak is a tireless worker that should man 125 for years.

Why They’re Not Higher: Lizak and Thorn should turn in to multi-year starters. The value of this class will manifest with the performance of Rose. He should get a clear shot with Schiller graduating and no one else on the current roster. His success could give a huge boost to what the ultimate value of this class is.

Flashback Stat: The 2010 Class brought the Dardanes, Ness, and Schiller. However, in the three classes since, only one full-time starter (Logan Storely) has emerged.

Needs for Next Year: Minnesota is always deep. They graduate a ton next year though: the Dardanes, Ness, Schiller. They’ll be in good hands with Jake Short (149) and Brandon Kingsley (157), but they’ll need a solid 141 immediately, and, depending upon the development of Rose, perhaps a 197, read: Lance Benick.

#15-Virginia Tech Hokies
5-Year Cycle: #4, #23, #10, #15


#3-Zack Zavatsky, PA (184)

#6-Solomon Chishko, PA (149)

Others: Collin Saunders, VA (141); Justus Weaver, VA (157); Chase McDaniel, VA (165); Mike ciavarro, NJ (165); Taylor Misuna, VA (165); Antavian Leary, VA (174)

In Blacksburg: Consistent recruiting efforts have led the Hokies to two straight Top 10 finishes. The roster is loaded with depth both from in-state and from the hotbeds of Ohio and Western PA.

Why They’re Here: Two top-flight recruits. Zavatsky is just a hair away. If he finds just a touch more offense (and it’s been improving), he could be a legit force early in his career. Chishko was a star throughout all four years of high school. Injuries limited him in his final two seasons, but he’s a special talent. If he gets healthy, and I think he will, he’s AA material very soon.

Why They’re Not Higher: If you tell me in 5 years that both Zavatsky and Chishko reached NCAA finals, I will not be surprised. In that way, this Hokie class could turn out to be much higher. But I’m being cautious. Zavatsky needs to develop and Chishko’s health gives me pause.

Flashback Stat: Just look back 1 year for another glaring example of why recruiting matters. They already have an AA from it (Dance), and next year’s line-up will feature four starters from that class alone.

Needs for Next Year: Nabbing Chishko was huge. But with Devin Carter and Nick Brascetta coming off the books, VT will need replacements in the middle (57/65). And although Dance is a lock at 125, a little depth there wouldn’t hurt, either.

#16- Virginia Cavaliers
5-Year Cycle: NR, NR, #18, #17


#1-Garrett Peppelman, PA (165)

#10-Will Schany, NE (184)

#16-Chance McClure, GA (197)

Others: Zak DePasquale, VA (165); Jake Henson, GA (165/174); Dom Scalise, PA (174); Austin Underwood, FL (HWT)

In Charlotte: Steve Garland has done an outstanding job of recruiting and building up the roster with quality talent. In the two years that their classes were unranked, they were listed as Honorable Mention. Very consistent.

Why They’re Here: Peppelman has a great all around game. He should be in conversations for conference titles immediately after a redshirt when he takes over for Sulzer. And I’m very high on Schany and McClure. They are two guys that I think have high ceilings and that will benefit immensely from being in a college room. In the end, there is three guys here that I think have great odds at starting gigs, and ultimately, will vie for AA honors.

Why They’re Not Higher: Schany and McClure have some developing to do. The value of the class entirely depends on that occurring.

Flashback Stat: The Cav Class of ’10 was ranked 17th, and they got a ton of miles out of it. Sulzer-Spisak-Sako...job well done there.

Needs for Next Year: 149 and 157. They’re fine at whichever weight TJ Miller goes. But they’ll need another starter and depth around him.

#17-North Carolina Tar Heels
5-Year Cycle: NR, #16, #12, NR


#3-Chip Ness, GA (197)

#5-Jack Clark, NJ (149/157)

#19-Matt Moore, NC (HWT)

Others: Anthony Bosco, IL (125); Alex Rinaldi, NJ (133); Kyle Coniker, PA (174/184); Cory Daniel, MD (HWT)

In Chapel Hill: UNC doesn’t have a problem attracting top talent to Chapel Hill. It’s been retention that has plagued them. Another two stud recruits enter the mix. Let’s see what they can do with them.

Why They’re Here: Clark has the talent to be national finalist-caliber. One of the most athletic big guys in the country, Ness should pay dividends all four years. You’re looking at what should be 8 years of varsity service with those two alone. And I love the ‘others.’ Bosco could be a career 125. Coniker and Daniels were very talented under-the-radar guys.

Why They’re Not Higher: Any time you land two guys of this caliber, you have to be happy. I just consider the classes ahead of them a bit more ‘certain.’ Though, with all classes in this ranking range, they could outperform this placement. For instance, both Ness and Clark AA’ing would do the trick.

Flashback Stat: UNC graduated no starters this year. Next year, they graduate just two (Evan Henderson, Frank Abbondanza).

Needs for Next Year: Everything. Believe it or not, Kraisser (JR) and Henderson (SR) will be upperclassmen already.

#18-Michigan Wolverines
5-Year Cycle: #1, #5, NR, NR


#5-Zac Hall, MI (141)

#11-Garrett Sutton, IL (165)

#11-Davonte Mahomes, IL (174)

#17-Zehlin Storr, MI (149)

Others: Malik Amine, MI (149); Alec Panteleo, MI (157)

In Ann Arbor: Coach McFarland has amped up recruiting efforts in the past few years, buoyed by an in-state talent pool on the rise. With a solid young core, the Wolverines had some exciting dual wins (Minnesota) last year and have reason for optimism.

Why They’re Here: Hall and Mahomes are exceptional talents. Hall should replace Dutton after a redshirt season. Sutton and Storr are two great steals. They are very high upside kids that got under recruited. Storr, in particular, could be a real shot in the arm. He keeps getting better and he could replace the now-graduated Grajales.

Why They’re Not Higher: More projected varsity years from groups ahead of them. Other than Hall, there’s really no guaranteed production. Mahomes and Sutton will be competing in the wheelhouse where the Wolverines are already loaded with the likes of Brian Murphy, Taylor Massa, Jordan Thomas, Domenic Abounader, and 2015’s Logan Massa.

Flashback Stat: How important is recruiting? At least 8 of the ten starters next year will be from the 2012 or 2013 classes that were ranked #5 and #1.

Needs for Next Year: Michigan’s roster is incredibly balanced. And, again, young. They don’t have any glaring needs.

#19-North Carolina State Wolfpack
5-Year Cycle: #14, NR, #6, NR


#4-Michael Boykin, PA (197)

PG-Troy Seymour, NY (165)

PG-Nicky Hall, NY (184)

Others: Troy Gregor, NC (125); Bryce Meredith, WY (133); Kevin Jack, CT (133/141); Jamel Morris, FL (133/141); Sean Fausz, KY (141); Will Crisco, CT (141); Jon Gahagan, IL (141/149); Jamal Morris, FL (141/149); Chandler Pyke, GA (149/157); Derrick Maisonet, IL (184/197); Malik McDonald, NC (184/197)

In Raleigh: That rascal Frank Beasley is up to his old tricks. One of the best recruiters in the game has had his work cut out for him in creating the architecture for Pat Popolizio’s NC State squad. The result has been a competitive room that ups the level of the Wolfpack standard and expectations. The team is extremely young, at times last season starting as many as 7 freshmen.

Why They’re Here: It’s not a star-studded class; Boykin was ranked this year, and Hall last year. But the ‘others’ group has so much potential. Meredith, Jack, the Morris brothers, and Fausz were all ranked at some point. If Boykin, Hall, plus 1 or 2 others give quality production, this class will be considered a success.

Why They’re Not Higher: All of them, including Boykin, are projects.

Flashback Stat: Talk about reinventing the program. 30 of the 46 wrestlers on the roster next year will be from the last two recruiting classes. Bonus Fact: not one wrestler remains on the roster from the Carter Jordan Era Class of 2011 that was ranked 6th.

Needs for Next Year: With a large, young roster, and with heady recruiting, The Pack’s roster is balanced. It’s now they can target the truly elite and bring in small groups.

#20-Wisconsin Badgers
5-Year Cycle: NR, NR, #14, NR


#2-Ryan Christensen, WA (184)

#11-Johnny Jimenez, IL (133)

Others: Jens Lantz, WI (141); Jacob Engelbert, WI (141/149); Luke Rowh, MN (149); Jared Scharenbrock, WI (157); Tyler Schmidt, WI (HWT)

In Madison: Another young squad, the Badgers missed out on a few recruits when Donny Pritzlaff and Jared Frayer left to coach at other programs. The result has been a thinnish roster that, all things considered, Coach Davis has done well with.

Why They’re Here: Christensen. I’m super high on him. So much so that I’m devoting this entire ranking to him. He has a complete game on the mat and the intangibles off the mat. A solid cast is around him too. Jimenez has always been solid and will have every opportunity to start with Graff gone and no other 33’s on the roster. And Lantz, Rowh, Scharenbrock and Schmidt could contribute down the road.

Why They’re Not Higher: Outside of Christensen, it’s going to take some work to get these guys on the podium. They have the ability, but I wouldn’t call any of them a lock for AA’s at this time.

Flashback Stat: The only wrestler remaining from the Badgers’ #14 Class of 2011 is Connor Medbery.

Needs for Next Year: Everything, both starters and depth, from 125 through 174.

Honorable Mention:
Bucknell: A really solid class that just missed the cut. Tyler Smith (141/149), Zach Valley (133), Tom Sleigh (184) with Zach Kelly (149/ 157) in tow for ’15. All ranked. A banner haul for Bison.

Lehigh: Milonas (157) headlines with Scotty Parker (125) who will see time early.

Northern Iowa: Josh Alber (133) will flourish at UNI with Adarios Jones (HWT) and Adam Drain (174) coming in with him.

Old Dominion: TC Warner (157/165) and Emilio Saavedra (141) are wrestling nuts. They’ll be solid.

Rutgers: Three ranked: one from their backyard (Giraldo, 141), and two from Indiana (Vinny Corsaro, 157/165 and Wesley Bernard, HWT).

Utah Valley: Two top tens in Roy Nash (HWT) and Kimball Bastian (174).

Thumbs Up - Great Recruiting Effort:
Binghamton: Four solid in-state prospects.

Lock Haven: Really upped the program by signing Bova and Sponseller early.

Army: Fifteen solid recruits should bolster the room.

Northern Colorado: Great job of plucking four under-the-radar guys.

Grand Canyon: A burgeoning program preparing for their DI future is getting off to a good start.

Sacred Heart: Rebuilding the room with 14 signees and showing a commitment to the program.

Buffalo: Twenty-two recruits? The Stutzman era begins.

Thumbs Down - Major Programs with Few Recruits:
Oregon State - Griego is a stud, but he’s the only reported recruit.

Boise State - With a roster that needs volume, the Broncs signed just two.

Best Non-DI’s:

St. Cloud State

Notre Dame


Ouachita Baptist

Looking Ahead - 2015 Commitments

Logan Massa, Michigan

Zach Kelly, Bucknell

Aaron Bradley, Iowa

Tommy Forte, Buffalo

Jake Adcock, Army

Steven Alvarado, Penn State

Chris Debien, Chattanooga

Logan Grass, North Carolina

Robert Steveson, Minnesota

Corbin Allen, Virginia

Fox Baldwin, Virginia

Sam Krivus, Virginia

Sam Ward, Columbia

Colston DiBlasi, Iowa State