Ohio State did something no other wrestling program has ever done Wednesday: It signed the top three recruits in the class.
What started way back in August 2019 with the commitment of local star Seth Shumate ended Wednesday evening when seven new Buckeyes signed their national letter of intent, including five men ranked in the Top 45 according to FloWrestling's Class of 2022 Big Board.
No. 1 Jesse Mendez. No. 2 Nic Bouzakis. No. 3 Nick Feldman.
No program has swept the top three in the class in the modern recruiting era according to the final FloWrestling rankings. When you add No. 19 Shumate – who at one time was a top five prospect himself – along with No. 45 Luke Geog and former top-40 recruit Gavin Brown, it's not hard to see that something big is building in the Jennings Family Wrestling Facility.
Shumate got the ball rolling and was the only member of the class for more than a year. He said at the time of his pledge that he was “born to be a Buckeye” and reiterated Wednesday how excited he was to be wrestling for Ohio State.
been waiting for this day for a couple years now. honestly a dream come true. im excited to get to work with the savages coming to columbus and bring some hardware back to the Covelli. #skoooooobucks— Seth Shumate (@ShumateSeth126) November 10, 2021
Brown joined the class in October of 2020 in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic. Another in-state standout, the Legacy Christian Academy (Xenia) senior is one of the top lightweights of his class. At the time of his commitment, Flo counted him as the No. 33 overall prospect in the class.
Things heated up for Tom Ryan and his staff in early 2021, when Pennsylvania big man Nick Feldman, then No. 5 in the class, announced his commitment. Feldman seems as ready for primetime as it gets; Tate Orndorff's successor entered the Clarion Open last weekend and rolled through a trio of matches against collegiate wrestlers, including a 10-3 victory over a returning NCAA qualifier currently ranked in the Top 25 of the Division I standings.
Adding one recruit of that caliber in a class is a good day's work, but the Ohio State staff wasn't through yet. With COVID restrictions easing up on campus, the program was able to start bringing recruits back to campus for official visits, showcasing the nation's best wrestling facilities in the Jennings Facility inside the Covelli Center.
That time spent on campus – a June visit and a football game earlier this fall – paid dividends as No. 2 Nic Bouzakis announced his commitment to the Buckeyes. Ohio State redshirt junior Sammy Sasso praised Bouzakis to the press at the team's annual media day this month, commenting specifically on how hard the Pennsylvania hammer wrestles.
His list of accomplishments is lengthy, as he’s won the Fargo, Super 32, Ironman, Eastern States and National Preps championships, to name a few. He also made this year's Junior World Greco-Roman team, and will fit right in to Ohio State's growing ranks of Greco standouts.
There again, having two of the top three pledges in the class would already put a program in pretty rare air. But a week before signing day Ohio State found out it had another ace up its sleeve as the top prospect in the class, No. 1 Jesse Mendez, announced he too would join the movement at Ohio State.
Like many recent Ohio State commitments, Mendez has serious freestyle credentials with a 2019 Cadet World and 2021 Junior World appearance under his belt, along with a 2021 U23 World Team Trials finals berth. He is also a three-time Indiana high school champion, aiming to be just the 10th wrestler in state history to win four titles.
Ohio State's top dog this season is NCAA runner-up Sammy Sasso. Minutes after winning his first Big Ten title this March, Sasso put out a call to all the "young savages" out there to come to Columbus. Mendez's dad said Jesse was listening.
Jesse looked at me and said he is talking to me. Yes he is. Lol— Hector Mendez (@RegionSig40) November 11, 2021
The Buckeyes would add one more pledge from a highly-regarded Ohioan as signing day drew closer, with No. 45 Luke Geog announcing his commitment earlier this week. Along with Lake Catholic senior Brendan McCrone, the class consists of four recruits from inside Ohio's borders, two from Pennsylvania and Mendez from Indiana.
A recruiting class of this quality is a long time in the making. The wooing is over – now the hard work of developing prospects into champions begins.
|Jesse Mendez||Crown Point||Indiana||141||No. 1|
|Nic Bouzakis||Wyoming Seminary||Pennsylvania||133||No. 2|
|Nick Feldman||Malvern Prep||Pennsylvania||285||No. 3|
|Seth Shumate||Dublin Coffman||Ohio||197||No. 19|
|Luke Geog||St. Edward||Ohio||174||No. 45|
|Gavin Brown||Legacy Christian||Ohio||149||–|
|Brendan McCrone||Lake Catholic||Ohio||125||–|
Celebration in front of Jennings Wrestling Center. Columbus OH-IO. Class of 2022. The future is bright. pic.twitter.com/j4rvqSwoi9— Thomas Ryan (@Buckeye158) November 11, 2021