Iowa's 2015 recruiting has hit a bit of a lull in recent months; they haven't added anyone to the fold since securing a verbal commitment from future 184er Cash Wilcke back in July. While there ought to be news about more '15 commitments before too long, Iowa's also looking a bit further out, too -- and those efforts paid off with a verbal commitment from PA-area recruit Kaleb Young last week. Young is currently a high school junior, meaning that he's a Class of 2016 recruit -- he won't be joining the Iowa wrestling room 'til the 2016-17 season.
I am proud to say that I have verbally committed to continue both my academic and athletic careers at the University of Iowa! #GoHawkeyes— Kaleb Young (@KaleebYoung) September 19, 2014
Young looks like a recruit worth waiting for -- and securing an early commitment from, too. (Young is one of the earliest commits in recent memory for Brands and Iowa.) He's InterMat's 25th best junior in the nation and Flowrestling has him at #35. As a sophomore last spring, he placed 5th in the 145 lb. bracket at the Pennsylvania State Tournament, a bracket that also included Vincenzo Joseph, Michael Kemerer, and Pat Duggan, all in InterMat's top 40 of 2015 prospects. He has room to improve, certainly, but he's also seeing some very good competition on a fairly regular basis.
Young, from Punxsuxtawney (home of that evil, weather-controlling groundhog), projects at either 157 or 165 at Iowa, which is a big area of need for the Hawkeyes. The only major recruit Iowa has added in that range in recent years is Burke Paddock, who may wind up at 174. Iowa (and the rest of the wrestling world) is in pursuit of Blair Academy's Mason Manville (a 152-lb wrestler who's currently InterMat's #2 in the Class of 2016), a blue-chip recruit who could provide a big boost in that weight range, but landing Young should further fortify the middleweight portion of Iowa's future rosters.
But while Young's own presence at Iowa should be valuable in its own right, his commitment could have significant additional value as well. Why? Because Young is a member of the Young Guns, a wrestling club in western Pennsylvania operated by Jody Strittmatter and Eric Juergens, two Iowa alums. And that club matters because it's an absolute gold mine of talent, as Andy Hamilton explains:
Young Guns is a western Pennsylvania-based club operated by Jody Strittmatter, a two-time All-American at Iowa. Nine wrestlers from the club are currently ranked third or better nationally at their respective weight classes.
Young was joined on an unofficial visit last weekend by fellow club members Spencer Lee, Gavin Teasdale and Max Murin. Lee is ranked the top overall prospect in the 2017 class by InterMat, Teasdale is the No. 3 wrestler in the 2018 class and Murin was a Pennsylvania state champion last year.
Vincenzo Joseph and Michael Kemerer - two other Young Guns wrestlers who are ranked among the top 16 prospects in the senior class - are expected to make official visits to Iowa later this month.
That club has sent several star recruits to Penn State in recent years (most notably, Nico Megaludis, Jimmy Gulibon, and Jason Nolf), so the ability of Iowa to get a foothold there could be big boon to Iowa's future recruiting. Penn State will always have a few advantages over Iowa (proximity to home, in-state tuition), but if Young can help Iowa open up a pipeline to that club and the talent it holds, it could pay huge dividends. Fingers crossed.
But regardless of the larger potential implications of Young's commitment to Iowa, he's a very good wrestler in his own right, as well as one who figures to slot into an area of need in the Iowa lineup. That's worth celebrating on its own. Welcome to Iowa, Mr. Young.
BONUS! Our blog friends at @IAWrestle have a quick interview with Young, as well as highlights of him in action. Go check it out. The IAWrestle fellas also have a breakdown of 2015 recruiting so far -- and what Iowa could do to make a splash this year.