Today, PJ Duke (Minisink Valley, NY), the top recruit in the high school Class of 2025 made his collegiate choice known via social media. Duke will head to State College, Pennsylvania to wrestle for Cael Sanderson’s Penn State Nittany Lions.
Duke has earned the top spot after winning some of the top high school events in the country. He is a two-time Walsh Ironman finalist, winning in 2022, at 150 lbs. Duke has made the Super 32 finals on three occasions. He has championship belts from the North Carolina-based preseason major in each of the last two years (at 126 and 138 lbs). Also in 2022, Duke claimed a Fargo stop sign after winning the 138 lb weight class in 16U freestyle.
At home, Duke has a pair of New York state titles to his name. He did not compete in the 2023 tournament (or other recent national events) because of injury. He’ll join Minisink Valley teammate and fellow blue-chip recruit, Zack Ryder, who is a part of the 2024 recruiting class who has committed to PSU.
Duke is the third wrestler from the Class of 2025 to give a verbal to Sanderson’s team. He’ll join #27 Dalton Perry (PA) and #42 Asher Cunningham (PA) as PSU recruits who are currently high school juniors.
With Duke’s verbal, it could give Penn State back-to-back recruiting classes featuring the #1 overall recruit in the nation. 2024’s #1, Luke Lilledahl, has given the Nittany Lions a verbal; however, he can’t sign until November. Despite all of their success individually and, as a team, the last time Penn State inked the number one overall recruit in their respective class was Mark Hall in 2016 (Greg Kerkvliet was 2019’s top recruit and initially signed with Ohio State).
At the next level, Duke appeared to project at 165 lbs. With another year-plus until Duke can sign and almost two years before he makes it on campus, that could change. Looking at the Nittany Lions current roster and Class of 2024, 157-174 doesn’t appear to be a pressing need. That being said, if you can sign a wrestler of Duke’s caliber, you do it. Top recruits Mitchell Mesenbrink, Josh Barr, Joe Sealey, and Tyler Kasak could end up in that 157-174 range for Penn State and would be around when Duke arrives in Happy Valley.