Brandon Paetzell (Photo/Sam Janicki)
Brandon Paetzell, who just finished his freshman season at Rutgers, plans to transfer from the New Jersey school to Lehigh University, according to multiple media reports.
"Nothing is official yet," Paetzell told LehighValleyLive.com Wednesday. "But the plan is to move to Lehigh. I have been up there the last week training, and talked with the coaches and I am focused on going to Lehigh."
Paetzell, who had been the 125-pound starter for the Scarlett Knights in the heart of Big Ten competition this past season, made it clear that he has positive feelings about the program he's leaving.
"I am really thankful for the opportunity I had at Rutgers and everything Rutgers did for me," he said. "I am really going to miss the guys and the coaches."
Paetzell echoed those thoughts in an interview with NJ.com.
"I just felt that I needed a change and it was best for me athletically and academically to move on," Paetzell told Ryan Dunleavy of NJ Advance Media.
Paetzell went 14-8 -- including 6-5 in duals and 5-4 in the Big Ten -- as a true freshman. He went 0-2 in the Big Ten Championships.
"It wasn't one particular thing," the two-time New Jersey high school state championships two-time runner-up from Phillipsburg High School said in LehighValleyLive.com. "It was a number of things relative to my situation that made me feel it was time to move on. You only get four chances at college wrestling. I really don't want to say anything negative about Rutgers. There wouldn't have been anything negative about staying at Rutgers. It was more the positive things about going to Lehigh. I had great training partners at Rutgers, but at Lehigh I would have a national champion. You can't beat that."
Paetzell has already had a practice session with Lehigh's Darian Cruz, 125-pound 2017 NCAA champ for the Mountain Hawks, who will be a senior next season.
"The plan would be for me to take a redshirt and then try to be the 125-pounder once after Darian. Plus they have Scott Parker, an All-American at 133 pounds. I'll be getting better wrestling guys like that. I think Lehigh is the best place for me academically and athletically."
NCAA rules requires transferees such as Paetzell to sit out the coming season. He will have three years of eligibility remaining starting in the 2018-19 season.