Two weeks ago, Ohio State signed one of the best wrestling classes in the nation, headlined by three of the top 10 wrestlers in the country. Today, Intermat Wrestling's Josh Lowe put a stamp on the hype, naming the group as the No. 4 class in the nation.
Talent evaluation in wrestling is a little more concrete than the hit-or-miss nature of college football and basketball recruiting and as Lowe points out, 33 of the 40 starters on the nation's top four teams last season were top 100 recruits in high school.
Spearheading the 2014 recruiting class is Maryland big man Kyle Snyder, who is ranked by many sources as the top recruit in the class of 2014. Snyder amassed an amazing 179-0 record in his first 3 years of high school at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School, including a pair of championships at the Walsh Ironman and three Beast of the East titles.
Snyder is a multiple-time medalist on the national level in both Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling (collegiate wrestling is folkstyle, which is comparable to freestyle), and passed up on the opportunity to chase a fourth high school state title in favor of a year of training at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Snyder won a Junior World Championship after honing his craft in Colorado Springs, and could possibly take an Olympic redshirt year to vie for a spot on the 2016 US Olympic wrestling team for the 2016 Games in Rio.
Here's Snyder winning a Junior World Championship. By technical fall (essentially a mercy rule for you non-wrestling fans):
Snyder is expected to contribute to the Buckeyes immediately, and Intermat projects him at 197 lbs, which is a spot previously filled by NCAA runner-up Nick Heflin for the Buckeyes.
Staying in-state to wrestle for the Buckeyes is Intermat’s No. 6 ranked wrestler in the Class of 2014, Micah Jordan. Jordan is a four-time Ohio state champion for perennial powerhouse Graham and has faced some of the top competition in the nation throughout his career. Following in the footsteps of older brother Bo, Micah bucked the family trend of wrestling for Wisconsin to compete for the Buckeyes.
The younger Jordan is projected to compete at 157 or 165 lbs after wrestling at 145 as a high school senior. Jordan will provide added depth to weight classes that will be among the strongest on the team with Josh Demas, Randy Languis, Bo Jordan, and others vying for spots in the starting lineup.
The third new Buckeye rated as a top 10 prospect by Intermat is heavyweight Thomas Haines. Haines capped off his senior season by becoming just the 12th four-time state champion in Pennsylvania state history. En route to winning his fourth state title, Haines amassed 28 pins during the course of his senior season. Haines, ranked No. 9 overall, could make a splash as soon as he sets foot on campus. He initially committed to Penn State, but decommitted due to their pursuit of another wrestler in a similar weight class. Haines will be in contention for a spot with incumbent Nick Tavanello, who fell just short of All-American status at this year’s NCAA Championships.
Ohio State's class is admittedly top-heavy as there are no other signees ranked in the top 100. With that said, the remaining recruits will help solidify the roster and add depth at some key weight classes.
Ryan Harris committed to wrestle for Ohio State on the heels of an outstanding career at Beachwood High School. Harris placed at the Ohio Division III State Tournament all four years, including a pair of championships in his final two years. Harris is projected to wrestle165 or 174.
Also looking to add depth in one of the upper weights for the Buckeyes is Seth Williams, who projects at 174 or 184. Williams was a four-time place winner for Tiffin Columbian in Ohio’s Division II, including a championship at 170 as a senior.
Cody Burcher will be trading in the recognizable brown and white singlet of the powerhouse Claymont (OH) program for that of the Scarlet and Gray. Burcher was a state placer in each of his four Division II State Tournaments in Columbus, finishing as high as second on two occasions. He's likely to compete at 133 or 141 as a Buckeye.
Rounding out the incoming class is JP Newton of Perrysburg (OH) High School. Newton placed third in the Division I State Tournament in each of his final two seasons in high school. Newton is projected to compete for the Buckeyes at 149 or 157.
As is often the case with many top level programs, Tom Ryan and the wrestling team are a case of the rich getting richer. The Buckeyes return seven starters (out of ten weight classes) from a team that recently finished 5th at the NCAA Championships. Also returning to the lineup are several experienced wrestlers who took a redshirt last season, including two-time All-American Hunter Stieber and Josh Demas. Nathan Tomasello and Bo Jordan, top recruits from the 2013 cycle took redshirts, as well.
Expectations will be sky-high for a team with a good chance to win it all next year.