Remember when Iowa landed a verbal commitment from Class of '16 wrestler Kaleb Young a few weeks ago and talked about how that could pay dividends for Iowa beyond securing the services of Young (a considerable young talent in his own right)? Well, those dividends could be paying off sooner than anticipated, as Iowa picked up a verbal commitment from another member of the Young Guns Wrestling Club last night, Class of '15 recruit Michael Kemerer.
Proud to officially announce that I have decided to further my wrestling and academic career at the University of Iowa. Go Hawks!— Michael Kemerer (@Kem_Dawg65) October 8, 2014
I don't know that Young's commitment was any sort of a decisive factor in Kemerer's own decision... but it surely didn't hurt to have a current teammate heading to Iowa in a few years. (Although since Kemerer is a senior this year and Young is a junior, Kemerer will technically be the one paving the way for Young -- and hopefully future Young Guns -- at Iowa.) Just like it surely didn't hurt to have Tom Brands show up at a Young Guns practice on Monday night.
Tom Brands in the house tonight. pic.twitter.com/TVnpajYMQk— Strittmatter (@YoungGunsWC) October 7, 2014
Why does getting an in with the Young Guns matter so much? Talent, talent, talent, as Andy Hamilton explains at Hawk Central:
Kemerer is one of nine wrestlers in Strittmatter's club currently ranked third or better nationally at their respective weight classes.
Michael Kemerer is the 14th wrestler from the Young Guns Wrestling Club to commit to a Division-I program this year.— Andy Hamilton (@Andy_Hamilton) October 9, 2014
Jody Stritmatter, one of the men in charge of the Young Guns Wrestling Club, was a two-time All-American at Iowa, so there were already ties between the Hawkeyes and the club -- Brands & Co. just hadn't been able to turn those ties into commits for Iowa. That seems to be changing now and getting a foothold in a club with so much talent on a regular basis can only be a good thing for Iowa wrestling moving forward.
And Kemerer is a major talent, recruiting-wise. InterMat pegs him as the #16 recruit overall in the Class of 2015, while d1collegewrestling slots him as the #10 recruit in the 2015 class. Flo puts him as the #2 HS wrestler at 145 lbs heading into the season. In fact, based on the d1cw rankings (the only ones with easily-accessible archives), Kemerer is the highest-ranked recruit Iowa has landed since Mike Evans in 2010 (#4 overall). Recruiting rankings don't mean everything... but they're a good start and a pretty good indicator of strong potential. Kemerer is almost a lock to be the centerpiece of Iowa's 2015 class as well, given that recruits are committing to schools earlier and earlier. Take a look at d1cw's list of the top 2015 recruits again -- there aren't many of the top 50 that haven't given a verbal commitment yet.
Kemerer projects at 149/157 in college, both clear areas of need for Iowa. It would be a surprise if Kemerer wrestled as a true freshman next year -- in Brandon Sorenson Iowa has a good option at 149 or 157 for the next four years and Edwin Cooper, Eric DeVos, Brody Grothus will all be upperclassmen at 149/157 in 2015-16 -- but he could be a staple of Iowa's middleweight lineup for years to come. In fact, with Young projected at 157/165, Iowa could have a pair of Young Guns locking down the middleweight spots for a while.
If for some reason you're wondering about Kemerer's academic bona fides... don't.
Michael Kemerer picked Iowa over Cornell, Lehigh and Stanford. He's a 3x PA state finalist who has a 3.9 GPA and scored a 33 on the ACT.— Andy Hamilton (@Andy_Hamilton) October 8, 2014
Athletically, Kemerer is a two-time Pennsylvania state finalist (at some absolutely brutal weights) and won the Powerade Christmas Tournament, a notable event out east that attracts a lot of top talent. In fact, he beat recent Penn State recruit -- and likely future college opponent -- Vincenzo Joseph at the Powerade event last year. (Joseph did avenge his loss in the finals of the Pennsylvania State Tournament, eking out a narrow win over Kemerer.)
As for what sold Kemerer on Iowa... it sounds like the usual: excellent coaches, good facilities, and a fanbase that's large in size, passionate about wrestling, and very knowledgeable about the sport. Per Hamilton:
"I felt like I couldn't go wrong with any of (my choices), it was just picking that one that really fit me (best) and Iowa just kind of fit," said Kemerer, ranked by InterMat as the No. 16 overall prospect in the 2015 class. "Iowa's coaching staff is great. My family and I really like the (Iowa coach Tom and associate head coach Terry) Brands and just going out on my visit and seeing how much everyone loves wrestling out there and how amazing it was. I've been to matches at Carver-Hawkeye and to see how crazy that crowd gets and how knowledgeable they are was something that always attracted me."
In football, Kirk Ferentz has a much better chance of sealing the deal with an out-of-state recruit if he can convince them to make a visit to Iowa City and get a sense of what the campus is like, and that holds true to an extent in wrestling, too. Once a kid sees what it's like to wrestle in Iowa City -- especially if they're able to come to a dual meet with 10,000 screaming fans yelling and cheering for the Hawkeyes -- not too many of them are able to say "no" to that. Welcome aboard, Mr. Kemerer.