Binghamton All-American Lou Deprez (Photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto)
Remember growing up as a kid, there was always that one family in the neighborhood with tough kids? And no one ever wanted to mess with them, to smartly avoid a hefty hospital bill? Now imagine that family has four boys who are competitive, pushing each other to become better at everything they do. And sometimes, there may or may not have been some bloodshed and an inevitable ER visit. Fast forward a decade or so, and all brothers become Division I wrestlers, at the same university. This is the story of the Deprez (pronounced "deh-pray") brothers, of Binghamton University.
Vincent and Anthony are the oldest brothers, who happen to be twins. They graduated from Binghamton University in 2019. Lou is next in line and will graduate this calendar year. Lastly, Sam is the baby of the family who intends to graduate in 2023. Growing up must have been an adventure with these guys. Football, basketball, motorbikes, and anything you can imagine. A lot of two versus two took place. But every now and then, boxing gloves would come out and, the youngest sibling, Sam, would usually get the short end of the stick, except that one day he got a lucky shot on one of the older brothers, ending in a trip to the dentist the next day. I may have made that last part up, but never let the truth get in the way of a good story.
The oldest Deprez brothers did not realize the tradition they started when they officially signed to attend Binghamton. Both finished their senior year in high school as state finalists in the New York state championships. Anthony was 46-1 (state runner up) and Vincent was 46-0 and claimed a state title. Vincent was a 4x placer, with a 222-14 career record. Going on visits to multiple schools, Anthony and Vincent always had a twinkle in their eye for Binghamton. It was close to home; only a short 3-hour car ride. Plus, the campus was everything they were looking for. Vincent and Anthony did not look very hard elsewhere. They discovered together that this would be home for the next four years. Former head coach, Matt Dernlan, successfully recruited the twins. The deal was done. This was half the battle - literally - as there are two more brothers who will need to find a collegiate campus to call home.
Next in line to be recruited was Lou. He was a three-time New York state champion, earning himself the number one ranking as a high school senior at 182 lbs. With a career like that, Binghamton had to battle to get him to campus. After speaking with Lou and the rest of the brothers, the only real influence from the parents was to stay close to home. They wanted to see all their boys wrestle in person as much as possible. Narrowing down his search between two final schools, Lou chose against Cornell and decided to stay with his brothers, which made all Deprez family members happy. He was a blue-chip guy who chose to follow older brothers to Binghamton. His commitment was more than that. It could be the start of something special. With this verbal, Coach Dernlan was three-for-three when it came to recruiting the Deprez family. One would think the odds are in his favor to land Sam, the youngest brother. So far, the decision has paid off for Lou. He is a two-time NCAA All American, and a two-time EIWA champion.
Binghamton 197 lber Sam Deprez (Photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto)
Sam claimed he pretty much knew he'd be a Bearcat since early in high school, around tenth grade or so. After being on campus to see his older brothers wrestle numerous times and getting to know the staff and wrestlers, the decision was a no-brainer. After signing the paperwork, he became the fourth and final Deprez brother to sign with Binghamton. Although Sam was technically recruited by the current coach, Kyle Borshoff, the former one, Dernlan, laid the heavy groundwork getting the first three brothers in the door.
It seems like the Deprez family was always in a Billy Joel-like "New York State of Mind." They never had real intentions of leaving their home state, but it was never out of the realm of possibility that they would stick together after leaving home. During my interview with the brothers, it came up once or twice that mom and dad would prefer to see all boys at the same school together. It made traveling easier to watch them compete; the boys carpooling was a bonus, plus they could all look out for one another, as needed, while away from home. Who needs to find roommates when you have 3 brothers? This type of situation is a dream scenario for a lot of parents out there, for a good reason too.
As previously mentioned, Coach Borshoff was not the head coach when three of the four brothers first stepped on campus. As a wrestler and parent, a new coach will always make you nervous. Having gone through this myself, it's a very strange situation. Just imagine the predicament these young student-athletes get into. You get recruited by Coach "A" and you put all your faith into him to help you achieve your personal goals. Suddenly, this coach leaves a year or two later; now, Coach "B" will be in charge. How will you, as a wrestler or parent, like the new coach? How drastically will things change? Do you trust this new coach? There are a lot of variables at play. Thankfully, the new coach at Binghamton was already on staff.
Coach Kyle Borshoff was given the head coaching job after being the assistant for a few years prior. This made the transition for all four brothers much easier. Already having a ton of familiarity with the new head honcho is a huge relief. The team still had the same goals, and aspirations as before. This was very comforting to the wrestlers on the team. When discussing the coaching change with the Deprez brothers, and their biggest complaint (if you want to call it that) was that "Practice was run a little different than before." Hearing this, you know Binghamton made the best hire for their wrestlers. Sometimes, the best candidate is the one that comes from inside the program.
Lou Deprez with Kyle Borshoff (left) and Steve Mytych (Photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto)
The high praises in this coach-wrestler relationship are a two-way street. Coach Borshoff said that "being able to coach and get to know all four Deprez brothers has been an absolute pleasure. They have great parents, they come from a great family." Assistant Coach Steve Mytych (fellow former Northampton Konkrete Kid) explained, "The Deprez brothers are great kids. You can tell they were raised right. Very respectful and coachable at all times." These two quotes caught my eye because both coaches talked about how great the parents of these brothers are. And this is something I feel always gets overlooked. We always talk about how great kids are, but rarely say anything about the parents. Before I digress too much, I just want to thank Jason and Jennifer Deprez for raising such fine gentlemen. And thank you to all other parents out there. Your work does not go unnoticed, and we need more like you in this sport!
Wrapping up my interview with the Deprez boys, I asked them what they thought of the program overall. The common theme each brother stressed about the team was a gradual improvement. Coach Dernlan saw steady progress signing all four Deprez boys. Lou mentioned how they had 4 NCAA National Qualifiers last year, many young studs in the room, plus some transfers to fill in a few missing pieces. Since Coach Borshoff has taken over, the improvement has almost been exponential. The Bearcats are poised to make a good run in the EIWA conference for years to come. Even both Coach Borshoff and Coach Mytych were talking about how excited they were for the future of the program. Both discussed developing the young talent and helping all wrestlers achieve their goals.
Binghamton All-American Lou Deprez (Photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
Lastly, I found it interesting what was said about the brothers when talking to Coach Borshoff. He stated, "They (the Deprez brothers) have become synonymous with Binghamton wrestling." This puts it into perspective how long it can take for a program to see improvement. These things do not happen overnight. Coach Dernlan started the process nearly a decade ago when he started recruiting twins out of Hilton, New York, who had two younger brothers that would eventually follow in their older brothers' footsteps. Currently, Coach Borshoff is continuing this trajectory, and I am excited to see how much this team can achieve. If you are a parent of four boys looking to wrestle in college, look no further than Binghamton University. They took this "our team is our family" thing quite literally, and it's worked out for them.