The Buckeyes have been incredibly successful in the past decade under the watchful eye of Tom Ryan, and that success can be traced back to the Buckeyes’ victories on the recruiting trail. While Ryan is the head coach, he hands the reins off to assistant coach J Jaggers when it comes to recruiting, and Jaggers is nearly as impressive as a recruiter as he was a wrestler himself. The two-time NCAA champion Jaggers has once again brought one of the best crops of incoming student-athletes together to compete for Big Ten and NCAA titles as Buckeyes.
Below, we’ll take a look at the wrestlers from the Class of 2016 that will toe the line for the Buckeyes and make some guesses as to how they may fit into the lineup.
Luke Pletcher (Greater Latrobe HS, Greater Latrobe, Pennsylvania) — No. 2 Nationally at 138 by InterMat, No. 10 overall by FloWrestling
Pletcher cemented himself in the record books of Pennsylvania high school wrestling, winning Pennsylvania AAA state titles as a freshman, sophomore, and senior and earning runner-up as a junior. Pletcher ended his career with a 166-5 record, which also featured four championships at the notable Powerade Tournament. Pletcher’s style is precise and he is excellent at picking his spots from the neutral position.
Though that style often leads to low-scoring matches, Pletcher should feel comfortable in tight matches in the Big Ten where the margin for error is slim in most cases. The Pennsylvania native stands out from other recent high-profile recruits to sign with Ohio State in that he does not often wrestle freestyle or Greco Roman, opting to focus on folkstyle. Pletcher projects to wrestle at either 133 or 141 in college and may step into the lineup at 133 as a true freshman.
Isaiah White (Oak Park River Forest HS, Oak Park, Illinois) — No. 1 Nationally at 160 lbs by InterMat, No. 14 overall by Flo Wrestling
White was a bit of a late commitment, but he decided to wrestle for Ohio State in late January and capped off an outstanding prep career with his third consecutive state title. White is incredibly skilled on his feet, comparing favorably to the Buckeyes’ Myles Martin with his variety of attacks and long frame. White boasts an incredible 127-7 career record, including a perfect 26-0 record as a senior.
White is a standout freestyle wrestler, earning national titles at Fargo in both 2013 and 2014. With his outstanding high school schedule and freestyle achievements, White looks poised to make an impact in the Big Ten from Day 1 as a Buckeye. It has been rumored that Bo Jordan and Myles Martin will each move up a weight class in 2016, so White could get his crack at the Big Ten as a true freshman.
Elijah Cleary (Lake Highland Prep High School, Orlando, Florida) — No. 12 Nationally at 170 by InterMat
Cleary graduates as a three-time Florida state finalist, finishing runner-up as a sophomore at 132 before consecutive titles at 160 and 170 in his junior and senior seasons. Cleary’s two championship seasons were thanks to an impressive 115-2 record in his last two seasons.
Cleary placed three times at the NWCA Nationals, taking 3rd as a sophomore, 5th as a junior, and 2nd as a senior. Though not as high-profile of a recruit as White or Pletcher, Cleary is a tough wrestler and will provide some much-needed depth in the upper half of the lineup.
Kevin Snyder (Our Lady of Good Counsel HS, Maryland) — 190 lbs
Kevin is the younger brother of World and NCAA champion Kyle Snyder, so his signing with Ohio State shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Snyder has placed three times at the National Prep tournament, finishing 8th, 5th, and 4th as a senior. His 4th place finish is notable because he placed behind InterMat’s #1, 2, and 16 ranked wrestlers at 190 in the country. The younger Snyder is unlikely to have the same impact as his older brother, Kevin will serve as an excellent drill partner and serviceable reserve wrestler in the upper weights for the foreseeable future.
Fritz Schierl (Stevens Point HS, Stevens Point, Wisconsin) — 160 lbs
Schierl is a two-time state placers in Wisconsin, earning a fourth place finish as a sophomore. His only loss as a senior came in the state finals, where he lost a 6-3 decision. Schierl is a pinning whiz with some serious credentials in both freestyle and Greco Roman in addition to his skills in folkstyle. Schierl’s unique skill set in Greco may prove beneficial for the team, especially in the middle of the lineup. Myles Martin may want to take a few extra practice rounds against Schierl before facing Bo Nickal in the future. Schierl is most likely to be a backup, but he’ll provide depth to the middle of the lineup.
In addition to these committed wrestlers, Ohio State is also in the running for Nick Reenan, InterMat’s #2 wrestler at 195 and Flo Wrestling’s #4 overall wrestler in the country. Reenan was a state champion in Texas as a freshman before transferring to Pennsylvania’s Wyoming Seminary College Preparatory School, one of the nation’s top programs. Reenan won gold medals in freestyle and Greco-Roman at the Junior Pan Am Games, and spent time at the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs honing his craft. Reenan’s Greco and freestyle chops make him one of the most desired recruits in the country, and for good reason.
He was initially committed to Northwestern, but opted to decommit from Northwestern following the dismissal of head coach Drew Pariano. Reenan is a star in the classroom as well as on the mat, so he should have his pick of schools.
Ohio State should be in the running for his services, thanks to the star-power in the upper weights and the Ohio Regional Training Center. Arizona State with Olympic coach Zeke Jones and Penn State are potential landing spots for Reenan, but Penn recently threw it’s hat into the ring as Reenan’s mentor Brandon Slay (2000 Olympic gold medalist and fellow Texan) was hired to run the Pennsylvania Regional Training Center. The Quakers have had some success in the upper weights at the NCAA tournament recently, and Slay will be a big draw for guys with Olympic aspirations.
Not only is Reenan skilled, but he is versatile, as well. It’s been mentioned that he may compete anywhere between 160 and 197 in college, so Reenan will be a welcome addition to any program he selects.
In addition to the above wrestlers, the Buckeyes were also in the running for a pair of elite wrestlers in the 170 lb weight class, but fell short on both. Alex Marinelli (St. Paris Graham HS, Ohio) was a high school teammate of Bo and Micah Jordan and had initially verballed to Ohio State before changing his mind and signing with rival Iowa. Marinelli won his fourth individual state title this season and was part of four OHSAA Division II state championship teams for the Falcons.
The Buckeyes also missed on consensus No. 1 overall prospect Mark Hall of Apple Valley, Minnesota. Hall won an incredible six individual state titles (Minnesota allows 7th and 8th graders to compete at the varsity level) to go along with six team titles and ended his storied career with an incredible record of 277-4. Hall elected to wrestle for wrestling legend Cael Sanderson and Penn State, so he will be a familiar face to Buckeye fans if he isn’t already.
Be sure to check back next week as I take a page from Birm’s playbook and look at some of the biggest recruits in the Class of 2017 and beyond.