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  • Photo: Tony Rotundo

    Photo: Tony Rotundo

    The History of #1 Overall Recruits

    All photos (excluding Craig) courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com

    MatScouts recently released the final Senior Big Board for the high school Class of 2024 and lightweight sensation Luke Lilledahl led the way as the top recruit. As Willie Saylor said on his recap show, these wrestlers will now carry those rankings with them throughout their collegiate careers. 

    Whether Lilledahl is a four-time national champion or doesn’t ever qualify for NCAA’s he’ll be known as the top recruit from this crop of wrestlers. 

    How will Lilledahl fare at Penn State? I think most observers familiar with his game and Cael Sanderson’s staff’s reputation for hitting on blue-chipper’s agree that he’ll have a great career in State College. 

    One way to predict the future is to look at the past. How have #1 overall recruits fared in college? Surprisingly well. Especially as there are more national tournaments to compare wrestlers against each other and more video to study. 

    With that being said, we’ve looked at 20 years of #1 overall wrestlers to see how they did at the next level and beyond. 20 is our number (one because it's a nice round number, plus 2004-05 is around the time when these types of lists were starting to get regularly made).

    As you’ll find out, if history is an indicator, he’ll turn out just fine….probably better than fine. 

    Before reviewing each of the 20 wrestlers, here are some facts about #1 overall recruits. 

    (MatScouts Rankings were used from 2013-24; InterMat's from 2004-12).

    - Every #1 between 2014 and 2020 won at least one national title. 

    - 15 of the 20 made at least one NCAA final

    - 11 of the 20 have won national championships (Three non-champions are still active, AJ Ferrari and Gable Steveson potentially are active too). 

    - 6 of the 20 have won multiple titles. 

    - 6 of the 20 won NCAA titles as freshmen

    - 4 of the 20 have won the Hodge Trophy

    - 3 of the 20 have won Olympic Gold Medals

    - 5 of the 20 have won Senior World medals

    - Only 3 of the 20 did not achieve All-American status at least once (Gallagher - still active)

    - Ohio State signed 6 of the 20 #1’s. 

    - Counting Ferrari, four of the 20 transferred away from the school they originally signed with

    - 6 of the 20 went to college in their home state






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