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|This week in college wrestling: Recruiting at a fever pitch|
By Jason Bryant InterMat
And we're off! The 2006-07 wrestling season is here, but wait, did it really ever end?
In the last two years, it would seem that the number of schools receiving verbal commitments from the top-ranked wrestlers in the nation is growing. Now, wrestlers are committing before they even take the mat for their senior season.
Is it about the pressure or is it about the offer?
Since October 23, over 55 wrestlers have verbally committed. In contrast, only 30 had committed from October 23-November 1 last year. Overall, 113 wrestlers have committed as of November 1, while last year, only 50 had committed.
The most active schools have been Bucknell, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Hofstra, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, Penn State, UT-Chattanooga, Eastern Michigan, Lehigh and Division II Newberry College.
Virginia, Virginia Tech, Ohio State, Oregon State, UT-Chattanooga, Hofstra and Eastern Michigan all have new coaches this season and they are doing whatever they can to give themselves a solid base for the future by offering up scholarship money early.
Virginia's first-year coach Steve Garland has already received commitments from nine wrestlers. He's already starting on his rebuilding effort in Charlottesville.
Edinboro received two early signees last season, Shawn Fendone and Kyle Fluke, but both of their commitments were announced after the early signing period. This year, the Fighting Scots have already received commitments from Thomas Straughn of Ohio and Paul Paddock of New York.
Arizona State was active last year in the early period and already this year, coach Thom Ortiz has received verbal commitments from Kyle DeBerry and Vicente Varela.
Of the Top 20 recruits ranked by InterMat - 13 have already committed and this is still a week before the first National Letter of Intent will even be received by college coaches.
October 27 was the busiest day so far, with 12 wrestlers announcing their commitments, including ranked wrestlers DeBerry, Dustin Kilgore of Ohio, Kyle Rosser of Michigan, Shane Nay of Missouri and Nick Nelson of Pennsylvania.
Albert White of Illinois is the top prospect in the nation that hasn't yet announced his commitment, while New York's Corey Jantzen, is the only other wrestler in the Top 10 to also remain uncommitted.
Last year's top recruit, current Lehigh freshman David Craig signed early, but he announced his commitment to Lehigh over Minnesota, Virginia Tech, Iowa State, Michigan State and Oklahoma State on October 20, 2005.
This year's top recruit, Virginia's Cody Gardner, announced his intention to attend Virginia Tech before he'd even taken the mat for the state championship his junior season and Gardner kept his commitment to Virginia Tech even after a drama-filled offseason which saw Tom Brands and his staff leave Blacksburg and head to Iowa City.
Minnesota's Zach Sanders committed to the Gophers back in May.
The power programs in the Big 12 and Big 10 are being active, but that tends to go with the territory. The ACC has had a solid early recruiting cycle with both Virginia and Virginia Tech picking up five wrestlers ranked in the Top 150.
Maryland landed No. 10 Eric Medina from Blair Academy as well.
Oklahoma State has received commitments from three Junior National champions - Clayton Foster of Idaho, Luke Ashmore of Texas and Jamal Parks from Oklahoma.
With the signing period starting in just a week, expect numbers across the board to increase.
Hey, dual meets!
The first two dual meets of the season took place this past week with Great Falls beating Northern Idaho 30-15 and Southwestern Oregon beating Yakima Valley 27-18. While the NAIA and JUCO's got started, the college opens and a few duals get going this weekend.
West Virginia, Eastern Michigan, South Dakota State, The Citadel and the University of the Cumberlands are hosting opens, while Edinboro hosts the Avalon Duals with Division II Mercyhurst, Maryland and Stanford.
Several schools will use the first weekend of the season to finish out their line-ups with wrestle-offs and intrasquad matches.