NFL draft prospect Keeanu Benton of Wisconsin a former state runner-up wrestler (photo courtesy of David Stluka; Wisconsin Athletics)
We all love wrestling. That’s what brought us together at InterMat. At the same time, it’s okay to have interests outside of wrestling. For a lot of fans, that interest might be football. And if you like football, it’s hard to beat the NFL draft. There have been mock drafts for months and months (years perhaps), all in preparation for today. Everybody pretends to be an expert and an insider as to how their favorite team will draft.
Bringing it back to wrestling, my thought was, “How many NFL draftees have a wrestling background.” Which led me to looking up the high school credentials over the top-300 draft prospects from a list provided by The Athletic.
We may not hear any of these names on Thursday night, but as the draft progresses, remember these names as they are elite football players that have some sort of wrestling background.
Below are the 11 wrestlers who could get selected in the 2023 NFL draft that have a wrestling background. There’s the possibility that more do; however, we’re just going off of what was listed in their collegiate roster bio.
The number by each prospect is their draft ranking and if accessible, their top wrestling credentials have been listed.
#56 Keeanu Benton (Wisconsin) Defensive Line
High School: Craig, Wisconsin; 2018 Wisconsin DI State Runner-Up.
#59 John Michael Schmitz (Minnesota) Center
High School: Flossmoor, Illinois
#133 Luke Wypler (Ohio State) Center
High School: St. Joseph’s, New Jersey
#182 Anfernee Orjj (Vanderbilt) Linebacker
High School: Rockwall, Texas
#194 Gervarrius Owens (Houston) Safety
High School: Southmoore, Oklahoma
#219 Evan Hull (Northwestern) Running Back
High School: Maple Grove, Minnesota; 2019 Minnesota AAA State Qualifier
#231 John Ojukwu (Boise State) Offensive Tackle
High School: Boise, Idaho
#237 Hunter Luepke (North Dakota State) Fullback
High School: Spencer, Wisconsin; 2x Wisconsin D2 State Champion
#243 Caleb Murphy (Ferris State) Edge
High School: Dowagiac, Michigan; Four-Sport Athlete (Football, Basketball, Wrestling, Track)
#279 Jake Andrews (Troy) Center
High School: Stanhope Elmore, Alabama; 2018 Alabama 6A State 3rd Place, 2017 Alabama 6A State Champ
#293 PJ Mustipher (Penn State) Defensive Tackle
High School: McDonogh School, MD; 2017 National Prep Runner-Up