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Recruiting class rankings released; Arizona State No. 1

Ohio State's national title team from this past year speaks to the impact that recruiting high-end talent can have to creating a confidence/culture and expectations for a team, as well as to the ultimate success of that team. In examining the five Ohio State wrestlers who earned All-American honors this year, all were ranked in the top 16 for their recruiting class. Logan Stieber was the top recruit in the Class of 2010, Bo Jordan the same in 2013, and Kyle Snyder for 2014, while Nathan Tomasello was 15th in 2013 and Kenny Courts was 16th in 2011.

Four of the other five starters were ranked within the top 42 of their recruiting class, while the remaining starter was a three-time state champion and ranked in his weight class.

  • Johnni DiJulius, seeded fourth at the NCAA tournament, went 2-2; he was ranked 33rd in the Class of 2011.

  • Hunter Stieber, an All-American in 2012 and 2013, went 0-2 at the national tournament primarily due to his injury situation; he was ranked 7th in the Class of 2011.

  • Josh Demas, seeded sixth at the NCAA tournament, went 1-2; he was ranked 42nd in the Class of 2010.

  • Mark Martin went 1-2 at the NCAA tournament; he was ranked 40th in the Class of 2012.

  • Nick Tavanello went 0-2 at the national tournament; he was not among the top 100 recruits in the Class of 2012.

    The high school accomplishments of this lineup were abundant; each was at least a multiple-time state champion. The ten wrestlers combined for 31 state titles (or in the case of Kyle Snyder, National Prep championships), including four that were four-time state champions.

    Said talent level in the lineup created the preseason hype and expectation around the Buckeyes as being a true national title contender, and in some corners the national favorite, though this group's collegiate accomplishments may not have suggested such a position.

    What can be learned from the Ohio State roster of this year as a tool to apply for programs going forward? There are many points to consider, depending on perspective.

    The recruiting class rankings for Ohio State in the previous five years were the following: 4th (2014), 11th, 16th, 1st (2011), and 12th. Those are all good rankings; however, beyond the 2011 class, none was a true "load up." Interestingly, within that load up, only three of the six core pieces are still part of the Ohio State wrestling puzzle: Hunter Stieber, Courts, and DiJulius; Andrew Campolattano, Cam Tessari, and Derek Garcia have all moved on for different reasons.

    The other four classes were more "quality over quantity" when it comes to core pieces. The Buckeyes have generally chosen to target bigger names, leaving the depth of their roster in question. One could see the impact of that when starters were missing during dual meet competition, especially this past year.

    Having such a collection of talent creates a "higher margin" for program success should top prospective wrestlers fail to meet pre-conceived expectations. The more stars a team brings into the program, the more likely it is for the proper number of them to emerge as key contributors.

    While there are some excellent recruiting hauls here in 2015, let's not overreact and say that it guarantees program success. What is more accurate to say is that strong recruiting hauls create positive momentum for a program, but ultimate end-game results may end up being a different story. Even though the high performers in college generally come from the subset of high-profile prospects, being a high-profile recruit entering college is no guarantee of strong collegiate performance -- especially when considering the full career.

    Below is this year's breakdown of how Division I programs performed in procuring future talent in their recruiting Classes of 2015.

    1. Arizona State

    Top 100 recruits: No. 1 Anthony Valencia (St. John Bosco, Calif.), No. 3 Zahid Valencia (St. John Bosco, Calif.), No. 5 Lance Benick (Totino-Grace, Minn.), No. 29 Josh Shields (Franklin Regional, Pa.), and No. 77 Josh Maruca (Franklin Regional, Pa.)

    Additional newcomers: Chance Eskam (Carlsbad, Calif.) and Tanner Hall (Meridian, Idaho/USOTC)

    Commentary: On the job for just about a year, head coach Zeke Jones has totally shifted the paradigm for Arizona State wrestling. His pedigree as a wrestler, along with tactical acumen and leadership/vision shown during his stint at USA Wrestling speaks for itself. Zeke and staff bring in a group of high end prospects, including three of the top five in the 2015 class, which should be able to thrive in relative short order. Eskam graduated in 2014, and was a two-time state placer; while Hall was an elite prospect in the 2011 class, training at the USOTC for the next year, then going on his Mormon mission to Uganda for two years, and training at the U.S. Olympic Training Center this year.

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    2. Oklahoma State
    3. West Virginia
    4. Northern Iowa
    5. Virginia
    6. Ohio State
    7. Minnesota
    8. Wisconsin
    9. Missouri
    10. Michigan
    11. Oklahoma
    12. Iowa
    13. Lehigh
    14. Virginia Tech
    15. Princeton
    16. Penn State
    17. Oregon State
    18. Northwestern
    19. Maryland
    20. Rutgers
    21. Navy
    22. Illinois
    23. South Dakota State
    24. Edinboro
    25. North Dakota State
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