2021 NCAA Champion AJ Ferrari (photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
Today, the wrestling world learned that 2021 NCAA champion AJ Ferrari is no longer a member of the Oklahoma State wrestling team. As of this morning, Ferrari had not entered the transfer portal.
Ferrari went 20-1 as a true freshman to capture the national title at 197 lbs for Oklahoma State. Since then, Ferrari maintained a perfect 10-0 record during the 2021-22 season, but had his campaign derailed due to an automobile accident in late January. Ferrari was unable to compete for the remainder of the season because of injuries suffered during the accident.
Ferrari has also had success on the international scene, winning a bronze medal at the Cadet World Championships in 2018 and competing with an injury during the 2020 Olympic Team Trials.
Where Ferrari may land is an interesting matter. Four of the top six teams in InterMat's summer rankings (Penn State, Iowa, Ohio State, Missouri) each bring back All-American 197 lbers.
Ferrari may also have options outside of the college wrestling world. Like Gable Steveson, Ferrari was a part of the WWE's initial NIL (Next In Line) program and has shown plenty of interest in that direction, along with mixed martial arts.
So, circling back to college wrestling, with options like the WWE and MMA, and a large social media following, Ferrari is likely to command a significant dollar amount, related to NIL figures.
Looking at Oklahoma State for the 2022-23 season, without Ferrari, Gavin Stika is the only returning 197 lber on the roster. He went a respectable 16-10, but was 0-2 at the 2022 Big 12 Championships. There is a rumored series of weight bumps that could happen with the Cowboys, including Travis Wittlake going from 165 to 184 and possibly Kyle Haas moving to 197.
This is certainly a developing story as Ferrari would provide an immediate title threat wherever he would enroll, but also could choose to take a different route.