2021 U17 World silver medalist Jim Mullen (photo courtesy of UWW)
On Saturday evening, the highest-ranked uncommitted wrestler in the Class of 2023 is uncommitted no more. #9 overall Jim Mullen (St. Joseph, NJ) announced via social media that he will wrestle and play football for Virginia Tech. Mullen is currently the top-ranked 285 lber in the nation. Before his verbal, Mullen was the only one of the top-16 seniors in the nation without a collegiate suitor.
Mullen enters his senior campaign as a two-time New Jersey state champion with both titles coming at 285 lbs. His first was as a freshman. You can't just hand out state titles to kids, but likely the only reason Mullen is not a three-timer is that the rescheduled 2021 state tournament fell on the same date as the UWW U17 World Team Trials. Mullen eschewed a shot at becoming a four-timer and happened to make the world team in both styles. In Budapest, Mullen competed in both styles and captured a silver medal in freestyle and fell a match shy of the bronze in Greco-Roman.
Because of his two-sport status, Mullen doesn't have as many national-level credentials as others of his caliber. Last year, he was a finalist at the Powerade and during his freshman year, Mullen was fifth at the Beast of the East.
Mullen will join a Virginia Tech program that already boasts a blue-chip big man in #19 Hunter Catka. An NCAA qualifier in 2021, Catka still has four years of eligibility remaining after redshirting last year. The Hokies also have a verbal from local product, seventh-ranked Parker Ferrell (Christiansburg, VA), a recent champion at the Super 32. Ferrell is ranked #49 overall in the Class of 2024. Despite the talent in the room or on the way, it's hard to pass up a wrestler of Mullen's caliber. It's also unclear how a possible football career will work in conjunction with wrestling.