Recruiting class rankings released; Penn State No. 1

Talent matters in terms of college wrestling success. In looking at the starting lineups for the four top teams in NCAA Division I wrestling this past season -- Penn State, Minnesota, Oklahoma State, and Iowa -- 33 of 40 starters were top 100 recruits at the end of their senior year of high school.

Seven of the 10 starters for Penn State (which qualified their whole lineup) were top 10 recruits at the end of their senior year. The Nittany Lions have had recruiting classes ranked sixth, second, fifth, 15th, and seventh for the 2009-2013 seasons.

Eight of the nine NCAA qualifiers (and 10 starters) for Minnesota were recruited as part of the 2009 and 2010 recruiting classes, which were ranked second and fourth respectively. In addition, nine of 10 starters this past season for the Golden Gophers were top 100 recruits; five of them in fact appeared in the top 50.

2014 Recruiting Class Rankings

1. Penn State
2. Oklahoma State
3. Cornell
4. Ohio State
5. Northwestern
6. Nebraska
7. Iowa
8. Illinois
9. Stanford
10. Michigan
11. Oklahoma
12. Minnesota
13. Iowa State
14. Virginia
15. North Carolina
16. Virginia Tech
17. Indiana
18. Bucknell
19. Lehigh
20. Maryland
21. Old Dominion
22. Utah Valley
23. Wisconsin
24. Central Michigan
25. North Carolina State
Eight of the 10 starters for Oklahoma State (which qualified their whole lineup) come from the 2009, 2011, and 2012 classes that ranked first, seventh, and fifth respectively; with single starters coming from a 2010 class ranked 21st and the 2013 class ranked 15th. Furthermore, eight of those wrestlers were ranked among the top 50 of their graduating class as high school seniors, with one other starter ranked No. 100 overall.

Nine of 10 starters for Iowa (which qualified their whole lineup) come from the 2009, 2010, and 2012 classes that ranked fifth, first, and first overall. In addition, eight of the 10 starters were ranked within the top 20 of their graduating class as high school seniors.

Below is this year's breakdown of how Division I programs performed in procuring future talent in their recruiting Classes of 2014.

1. Penn State

Top 100 recruits: No. 4 Nick Nevills (Clovis, Calif.), No. 5 Bo Nickal (Allen, Texas), No. 7 Jason Nolf (Kittanning, Pa.), and No. 56 Shakur Rasheed (Longwood, N.Y.)

Other ranked recruits: Anthony Cassar (Montgomery, N.J.) and Gary Dinmore (Hunterdon Central, N.J.)

Commentary: Cael Sanderson has built an empire in Happy Valley, as the Nittany Lions have won four consecutive NCAA championships. Talent procurement has played a major role in this development, and this group of recruits will continue that stream of talent rolling into the Penn State wrestling program. Nevills, Nickal, and Nolf qualify as obvious superstars, while Rasheed is another potential star. Three-time state runner-up Dinmore and undefeated state champion Cassar will help bolster the quality of depth on the Nittany Lions' roster.

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