DeSanto granted release by Drexel, seeks 'tougher room'

Austin DeSanto at the NCAAs (Photo/Tony Rotundo,

Austin DeSanto, NCAA qualifier who was one win shy of earning All-American honors as a freshman at 133 pounds, has been granted a release by Drexel University, according to multiple media reports this week.

Drexel head coach Matt Azevedo confirmed the news to

DeSanto is seeking "a tougher room" according to Jon Rugg, his coach at Exeter Township High School in eastern Pennsylvania who is now fielding queries on his former wrestler's behalf from Arizona State, Iowa, Nebraska, Penn State and Virginia Tech, among other schools.

More than one media outlet in New Jersey -- including -- speculates that DeSanto may find a home at Rutgers, where he might move up to 141 pounds.

"It's everybody," Rugg told, referring to the number of colleges reportedly seeking DeSanto. "Just a ton of schools are interested in having him. I don't really know what his plan is weight-wise or how that fits or what coaches are going to fit his style. I'm not one-hundred percent sure. His mom has been texting my assistant and updating us about who he's talking to."

"I guess Austin is looking for a tougher room essentially, somewhere to be challenged on a daily basis," Rugg said. "I was never in Drexel's room, so I have no idea what that specifically means."

According to, "DeSanto works at a rugged pace in the wrestling room and has been known to run through multiple partners each practice."

DeSanto's high school coach confirmed that notion. "He's brutal," Rugg said.

DeSanto was a three-time PIAA (Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association) state championship medalist, winning Exeter's first state title in 2017 when he defeated Spencer Lee, handing the prep phenom his first loss of his high school career in the 126-pound finals, which some have labeled as the greatest upset in PIAA championships history. Lee just completed his first season at University of Iowa by winning the 125-pound title at the 2018 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships.

That upset vaulted DeSanto into the national spotlight. Sadly, a more recent incident may have tarnished that reputation well beyond the Keystone State.

DeSanto considers his move to a new college at a time when his actions during one match at the NCAAs made him the subject of much discussion -- and derision -- on online wrestling forums and in social media. Towards the end of a quarterfinal bout with Michigan's Steven Micic -- a match DeSanto was losing -- it looked like the Drexel freshman had applied a dangerous arm bar on his opponent before an official stepped in to break the hold. Micic -- who eventually placed second at 133 -- questioned if DeSanto knew how to "handle an ass beating."

DeSanto's high school coach offered his own opinion. "He didn't do himself any favors there with his actions," Rugg said. "That's pretty easy to see."

In fact, coach Rugg told that 'personal growth' may be just as important a factor in DeSanto's eventual success as signing on with a program well-stocked with teammates ready to provide him with more intense practice sessions in the wrestling room.

"Austin is a great wrestler, and I think if coaches spent time developing a relationship with him, creating a connection mentally and socially with him, I think they'd have a lot more success with him," Rugg said.

"It took us a full year to build a relationship with him where we were able to work with him essentially. I wonder what college coach is willing to put that kind of time and commitment in to build relationship.

"I just want him to land in spot where I know he can develop and be successful, and not just in wrestling. If he can be a successful person, he can be a successful wrestler. I think they go hand in hand."


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PM918 (3) about 4 and a half years ago
This kid is a nut. We all saw what he did to Micic at the NCAA's. Do you really want a kid like that in your wrestling room, probably pulling the same crap on teammates when he gets frustrated. And then there was his R12 match when he was pointing his finger and yelling at his coaches during the match. Drexel is probably glad to be rid of him. I know there are some top programs that could really use a 133 pounder right now, but buyer beware.
johnmac47 (2) about 4 and a half years ago
He wouldn't have the balls to join Penn State wrestling - to tough for him.
Jabr8319 (1) about 4 and a half years ago
As a Penn State fan, I am praying that he goes to Rutgers or Iowa. I think he would be a terrible addition for Penn State, and I don't think he would crack the lineup. I think the Iowa coaching staff would be able to reign him in, and hopefully turn things around
For him. If he doesn't plan on changing his attitude or his antics, he might as well go to Rutgers. Given his history of joint manipulation, dirty wrestling, and unnecessary flip outs, he would fit right in at Rutgers.
Jabr8319 (2) about 4 and a half years ago
I think this article is also a little misleading. It seems that this decision to part ways was at least somewhat mutual. Austin Desanto has some well known issues, and I think he was too much for Drexel to handle. A bigger school, with more resources, would probably be a better fit for him.
Abearden (1) about 4 and a half years ago
This dude is definitely eccentric. He was home-schooled and would probably do better in a small school environment - Maybe something like Edinboro, but who know if EU would be interested in the baggage.
vietvet (1) about 4 and a half years ago
Lot of interest in a one trick pony. Kid has no top or bottom game and one overused TD that Micic obviously figured out.
andizzyJD12 (2) about 4 and a half years ago
I would tell him to learn to channel frustration into focus and to remember that even though wrestling is the most important thing to him, it still isn’t the only thing. One guy who learned to implement this philosophy very well over the course of his career: Tom Brands. Send him to Iowa.
jamper1 (1) about 4 and a half years ago
Yes please send him to Iowa. I'm a big Nit fan and I couldn't root for a guy that acts in the manner he does. Cael and the other coaches could probably change him but let him go to Iowa where we have seen wrestlers like him before (Gilman for one) there.
andizzyJD12 (1) about 4 and a half years ago
I’m saying send him to Iowa, not to pass him off, but because I think it’s the place that will be best for him. They understand and can correct this type of thinking better than any team.

And Gilman never did anything close to trying to break someone’s arm. The slam on Waters at national duals was excessive (which Thomas admits) but when you listen to Gilman’s side of it, his actions make more se sense than just being a meathead. Additionally, Gilman has always taken his losses very well.
andizzyJD12 (1) about 4 and a half years ago
Getting him on medication will probably help DeSanto immensely. It’s something that should be seriously considered. People should really should try to find solutions and not be totally dismissive.