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Suriano explains why he sought transfer

Nick Suriano (Photo/Juan Garcia)

All summer long, it's been a major topic of discussion wherever wrestling fans meet: "Why did Nick Suriano want to transfer from national champion Penn State to Rutgers University?"

Now we have an idea why, straight from the source.

The New Jersey mat star wrestled for one season for the Nittany Lions but sought -- and received -- an immediate eligibility waiver from the Big Ten last weekend, meaning he will be immediately able to wrestle for the Scarlet Knights without losing a year of eligibility.

"I wasn't happy there," Suriano told NJ.com in an interview in the Rutgers wrestling practice room Friday. "I found through a tragic time with my injury and the way my season ended, I wasn't happy with how things were dealt with.

"I'm not going to get into it. For the critics, it's none of their business. I'm here at Rutgers. I'm here in New Jersey. Everyone here is supportive of me. This is my choice and I'm going to run with it. I'm here for one thing only, and that's to make history."

"Out of high school, I thought I needed to be at the best place, a Penn State-kind of place," said Suriano, referring to the program that has won five of the last six NCAA team titles. "It served me well. I learned from it. But I found out who I really am. That's not who I was. I'm a Jersey guy. I had to make a change."

"I knew this is where I wanted to be," Suriano said. "It just so happened that the Big Ten thankfully decided on this (waiver). I think I deserved to compete this season. It's only fair, especially with the circumstances I had to go through. We'll be competing this season. That's all that matters."

"This is my home. These are my people," Suriano said in the wrestling room that will now be his home away from home. "I trust everybody on the support staff here, my coaches, my (training) partners."

Suriano said his ankle injury which forced him to forfeit out of the Big Ten and NCAA championships after a 16-3 freshman season as a 125-pounder at Penn State is now just a bad memory.

"I'm 100 percent," Suriano said. "The best thing I ever did was get no surgery. Didn't need it. I feel better than I did before I got injured. I've got a clear mind. I learned a lot last season."

Now that Suriano is fully mended, what are his expectations for the 2017-18 season as he steps out onto the mat in a Rutgers singlet?

"I think nothing changes," Suriano said. "The goals don't change. The approach is a little more -- little harder, little faster, little more explosive, little more physical.

"I'm coming back with a vengeance. I had a title stripped from me, an opportunity stripped from me. That's life. I took it on the chin and had to sit it out. I'm back this year to win a title. Nothing shy of that."

Suriano is arguably one of the all-time great wrestlers to come out of New Jersey. Wrestling for Bergen Catholic High School, Suriano compiled a perfect 159-0 record, racking up four NJSIAA (New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association) titles. He also won numerous individual championships at national tournaments such as Super 32 and Beast of the East before signing to wrestle at Penn State.

Comments

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Aaron Geiser (2) about a month and a half ago
Quite honestly, if Nick wants to wrestle elsewhere, so be it. Penn State followed the rules and if you don't like them, change them. Nick applied for the waiver and it was granted. I wish him all the best, he's a fantastic wrestler.

I'm a hell of a lot more interested in the athletes who want to be at Penn State and see what becomes of this season. There is a lot to look forward to and battling with Rutgers is not really one of them.

For the record, I support forcing ANY athlete to sit out a year to discourage against 'just moving'. I don't see them as UNPAID as some suggest. They are compensated through a PAID education. Those are the terms, take it or leave it. I have kids who have college debt and I would have loved to see that paid for in lieu of athletic performance. It's a contract: offer, acceptance and consideration. Like it or lump it.

Like I said, I wish Nick all the best, and I hope Penn State wins another National Title, this year, next year, whenever...I think Cael and his staff are excellent and I like that they support and encourage both sides of the equation - student AND athlete. We Are!!!
D_W (2) about a month and a half ago
I agree with with Aaron said. The rules are the rules. Who really gets screwed when someone just quits because they "don't like it" is the rest of the team who is left behind with a hole in their roster. It's not football where you can keep several key guys at one spot.

Nobody else came to Penn State at 125 because Suriano was there. He lacks the maturity level for a program like Penn State, which is fine. I think that will show in his results in the future - there have always been talented kids who don't pan out because they don't have the right mindset to get to the same place that someone like Snyder has gotten to.

But to discourage all of these athletes from transferring out of preference or lack of dedication, and then having programs who have invested time and money pay the consequences for it, all athletes should have to sit out a year (in conference transfer or not).
cradleman (2) about a month and a half ago
Wish him the best. He is a kid. However, nothing was stripped from him. He experienced an injury. That he has to own and it's not Penn States fault. I remember way back in 1970 as a Wilkes freshman. I was a LI product and we had a bunch of guys from the Island and a bunch from Jersey who were always fighting. We got along well with the PA boys those Jersey boys always talked a lot. At that time their wrestling couldn't cash what their mouths wrote. ;)
ellascott (1) about a month and a half ago
"...I had a title stripped from me, an opportunity stripped from me."

- any idea what he is referring to with this quote? Really seems more a lost opportunity in a situation in which he seems to have not agreed with the approach taken, rather than a title being taken away, or am i missing something? I am not critiquing, just wondering.
lesman67 (1) about a month and a half ago
I don't like it, not that that matters but here's how I see it: you choose a school and sign a letter of commitment to that school. Changing your mind because you're a kid and you don't like the situation doesn't exonerate you from making a poor choice on your part in the first place. What did anyone take from him? I can't see Cael saying, " We have a stud 125 pounder, he's banged up and I'm not going to let him wrestle so he can't win a title". I would think that the Penn St. wrestling staff would make the call in favor of the wrestler and his future. Not sure he could have beaten Gilman and therefore not sure he would have beaten Cruz. Big Ten made a mistake on this one, kids are going to decide that they want to go to some other school and I can see lawsuits coming forward, can't play favorites.
twolverton (1) about a month and a half ago
I have gone back and forth on this whole transfer thing. Remember that a scholarship is a one-year agreement, not all four years. It can be, and often is, adjusted each year. Yes, colleges invest a lot of resources in the recruitment of an athlete, and so do all of those that also recruit him and don't get him to sign with them. I have no problem with an athlete changing their mind and going elsewhere from the perspective that after a year they have fulfilled their commitment for the scholarship that they were awarded. It sucks to be a fan and see good guys leave the team you support, but a lot of times the coach or the program did not meet the expectations of the kid coming in. This isn't a new thing. Steve Mocco wrestled for both Iowa and Oklahoma State. Should they have to sit out a year or a semester? I guess that's the biggest question that I can't answer because I see pro's and con's to each.
johnnyknj (1) about a month and a half ago
ellascott (1) 1 day ago
"...I had a title stripped from me, an opportunity stripped from me."

- any idea what he is referring to with this quote? Really seems more a lost opportunity in a situation in which he seems to have not agreed with the approach taken, rather than a title being taken away, or am i missing something? I am not critiquing, just wondering.


That struck me too. I think he means he had an opportunity taken away. He also obviously does not know the meaning of "tragic". Hopefully he takes some English courses at Rutgers.
Punisher (1) about a month ago
I think he would have won the title, but to say he was stripped of the title? I saw him in the wrestling room with an ankle brace riding the bike, then he was working with the team and could not put weight on the foot when shot upon, held the leg in the air mid sprawl. this was a week before the Big 10 tournament.
FLYankee (1) about a month ago
If coaches can leave schools (and their recruits) without ramifications than wrestlers or any athlete should be accommodated the same freedom. The argument of "paid" or "unpaid" should be irrelevant.