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Iowa's wrestling recruiting gains a bonanza of in-state guys.

Tony Hager

Sometimes you wait several months to hear good news in recruiting.  And sometimes you get four verbals in one day (plus another one the day before).  When it rains, it pours (middleweights).  Iowa's wrestling recruiting got a much-needed big victory last week when standout Pennsylvania prep Michael Kemerer gave his verbal commitment to Iowa; this week Iowa got verbal commitments from a host of in-state wrestlers.  The tide of verbals began Monday night:

That was just the beginning, though:

A 2015 class that numbered two 48 hours ago (Cash Wilcke and Kemerer) now numbers seven.  It's important to remember that wrestling scholarships don't work the same way as scholarships in football or men's basketball; in those sports, coaches are required to provide "full" scholarships and are limited to a certain number of scholarships. In wrestling, coaches are limited to 9.9 scholarships, but scholarships are not required to be "full," so that scholarship money can be portioned out as desired.  It's unclear how much scholarship aid the young wrestlers who gave verbal commitments to Iowa this week will be receiving (although it's probably not a lot, for reasons I'll get into shortly), but their arrivals don't necessarily take up "spots" that would otherwise go to other recruits (as they would in football or men's basketball).

These recruits differ from Kemerer (and 2016 recruit Kaleb Young) in several key ways: they're in-state (not Pennsylvania preps), they're not members of the highly-regarded Young Guns wrestling club, and they're not highly-touted recruits.  Kemerer is a blue-chip recruit (#10 in the nation per d1cw; #16 per InterMat), while none of the five wrestlers who committed to Iowa this week are ranked by either service.  This doesn't mean that they're bad wrestlers or undeserving of the opportunity to wrestle for Iowa.  But it does mean that it would probably be a mistake to get carried away with expectations for any of these guys.

Wrestling production and recruiting rankings have a complicated relationship (a topic I hope to explore in another post shortly), but ultimately it's similar to the relationship we see between recruiting rankings and production in other sports: it's better to be ranked than not ranked and generally the higher the ranking, the better it is.  But again: rankings are not infallible (far from it) and while it's not commonplace at big programs like Iowa, it's not unheard of for wrestlers unranked by recruiting services to go on to have very good careers.  Wrestlers develop at different rates and sometimes the right program with the right coach and the right workout partners at the right time can help a guy blossom; that's certainly what we'll be hoping for with Messrs. Erickson, Woodard, Glynn, Glosser, and Shaw.


FROM: Mediapolis HS
ACCOLADES: 121-10, placed 4th, 2nd, and 3rd at Iowa State Tournament

Erickson, who chose Iowa over interest from Minnesota and UNI, is still searching for that elusive state title, but he's been on the podium -- and in the top four -- every year so far, which is no small achievement.  Erickson also owns an 8-1 win over Minnesota recruit Larry Early (#34 overall, InterMat), which is a nice feather in his cap.


FROM: Bettendorf HS
ACCOLADES: placed 7th, 1st (138 lbs, 3-A), and 5th at Iowa State Tournament

Woodard has been growing like a weed during his high school career at Bettendorf; he wrestled at 126 lbs as a freshman, won a state title at 138 lbs as a sophomore, and finished fifth as a junior at 152 lbs.  He projects at 149 or 157 in college, but that may be underselling him if this growth pattern continues.  Like Erickson, Woodard also reportedly chose Iowa over Minnesota.


FROM: Bettendorf HS
ACCOLADES: 70-26, placed DNP, DNP, 2nd at Iowa State Tournament

Glynn, Woodard's teammate, joins the growing contingent of Bettendorf wrestlers on the Iowa roster (in addition to Glynn and Woodard, current Iowa wrestlers Logan and Connor Ryan also hail from Bettendorf).  He's also a second-generation wrestler at Iowa -- his dad, Paul Glynn the elder, wrestled for Dan Gable's Iowa teams in the '80s.  Glynn opted for Iowa over several other fairly big programs: Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Missouri.


FROM: Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont HS
ACCOLADES: 140-11, placed ?, 4th, Champion (138 lbs, 1-A) at Iowa State Tournament

Along with Woodard, Glosser is the only other commit from this week that has a state championship to his name; he claimed top honors at 138 lbs in the 1-A field a year ago.  He'll be looking to retain that title this year... but is clearly hoping for bigger things in the future, too:

"I've always wanted to be a Hawkeye since I was little," said Glosser, who also talked to Missouri, Coe and Cornell College. "They're one of the best wrestling schools in the nation, and I want to [be] the best in the nation at some point."


FROM: Southeast Polk HS
ACCOLADES: 86-37, placed DNP, 5th, and 3rd at Iowa State Tournament

While Glynn and Woodard will add to the Bettendorf contingent on the Iowa roster, Shaw will add to the Southeast Polk contingent, which also includes likely 133 lb starter Cory Clark and potential future 174 lb starter Alex Meyer.  Shaw doesn't have the credentials that those two had coming out of high school (though he does have good bloodlines as the nephew of former Iowa All-American Jessman Smith), but his career has been one of consistent improvement:

Shaw had the least impressive offers of Iowa's most recent batch of commits (he chose Iowa over Grand View, Wartburg, and Central College), but the rapid improvement he's made every year of his high school career could suggest that there's talent there that just needs more time and development.

* * *

One of the more curious details about these commitments: they're all in the 141-149-157 range (although Glynn could start out as a 133 lb wrestler, given that he was wrestling 120 lbs as recently as last year).  The star of this year's recruiting class, Michael Kemerer, also projects at 149/157 and Class of 2016 recruit Kaleb Young could be another 157 lb guy (although he might also grow into a heavier weight, like 165).  Iowa's added quite a few guys at those weights in recent years, including Connor and Logan Ryan, Topher Carton, Logan Thomsen, Seth Gross, Tagen Lambotte, and Skyler St. John; not to mention more short-term solutions like transfers Eric DeVos and Edwin Cooper.

In part, this is likely because middleweight is a very populous weight (it's harder to find guys who can stay at the lighter weights and at the upper weights you start losing athletes to other sports; coaches from those other sports aren't exactly beating down your door if you're a good athlete at 150 lbs), but it's hard to shake the feeling that it's also being done with one eye on the utter mess that 149 lbs has been for several years (and that 157 could become, given that there's no clear-cut blue chip successor in place for Derek St. John).  The best way to guard against a repeat of the dark times at 149 may be to grab as many lottery tickets as you can and see which ones pay out.  We'll have to wait and see which (if any) of these recent recruits emerge from the middleweight muddle, but in the meantime -- welcome aboard, gentlemen.  We're happy to have you at Iowa.