By Rob Sherrill
University of Michigan coach Joe McFarland put a bulls-eye on his program last November, assembling the nation’s No. 1 early signing class.
All season long, the Wolverine futures lived up to the hype.
McFarland’s six November signees all advanced to their high school state championship matches, five winning titles and one losing by a point, to cement the title in the 2013 recruiting derby.
Four-time Michigan champions Ben Whitford (149-157) of St. Johns and Adam Coon (Hwt) of Fowlerville, three-time Ohio champion Domenic Abounader (184-197) of Lakewood St. Edward, two-time Illinois champion George Fisher (133-141) of Aurora Marmion Academy, St. Johns champion Payne Hayden (184-197) and three-time Illinois runner-up Brian Murphy (157) of Carol Stream Glenbard North are expected to team with last year’s recruiting class to provide the heart of what could be a multi-year NCAA team-title contender.
However, other classes also stood out.
From top to bottom, Missouri’s class, which might have been the “MVC” of the high school season, moved the Tigers up a spot to No. 2, and the rest of the teams in the Top 10 also received outstanding performances from their early recruits.
North Dakota State and North Carolina State edged into the Top 10, with Wolfpack coach Pat Popolizio’s team moving up seven spots to No. 10. Michigan State also moved up seven spots, while Wisconsin moved up five. Iowa State (No. 17), Rider (No. 23) and Cal Poly (No. 24) joined the list after not being included in November.
Narrowing the list to 25 was extremely difficult, since so many schools not on this list helped themselves tremendously this year. Please note, though, that we don’t yet have access to each school’s dozen-odd additional walk-ons…and don’t pretend to.
Here are some highlights, however, of WIN’s Top 25 recruiting classes for 2012-13 at press time.
1. Michigan: The Big Six (see above) of November were the story, combining for 14 state titles, but McFarland added some excellent depth this spring, too. The best of his three spring recruits: Illinois champion Cameron Kennedy (133-141), the younger brother of former University of Illinois All-American Jimmy Kennedy, from Richmond-Burton High.
Michigan also signed Jordan Amine (149, MI), Ernest Battalia (149-157, IL), Aaron Calderon (157, MI) and Payne Hayden (197, MI).
2. Missouri: Coach Brian Smith’s class dominated during the season and postseason. J’den Cox (197) of Columbia David Hickman went up to 285 to finish his career as a four-time state champion, pinning his way to the title. Nick Kee (165-174) of Laurinburg (N.C.) Scotland County and Parker VonEgidy (174) of Monroe (N.C.) Piedmont, two-time Ohio champion B.J. Toal (184) of Troy Christian, four-time Nevada champion Joey Lavallee (157) of Reno, two-time South Carolina champion J.J. Johnson (125) of Hanahan and Illinois champion Barlow McGhee (125) of Rock Island made it a 6-for-6 title sweep.
Not only that, Lavallee, VonEgidy and Cox all won NHSCA Senior Nationals titles, with Johnson finishing third, Kee won his second straight 4A Outstanding Wrestler award and McGhee added a Dream Team Classic win.
Another big name in Smith’s room this fall: two-time Iowa champ Willie Miklus, a member of last year’s class who spent a year at the Olympic Training Center.
3. Ohio State: There’s seemingly no ceiling for coach Tom Ryan’s top two recruits, and four-time state champions Nathan Tomasello (125) of Cuyahoga Falls Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy and Jr. Hodge winner Bo Jordan (157-165) of St. Paris Graham breezed through the season, with Jordan earning the Outstanding Wrestler award in Division 2.
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