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April 21, 2014

WRESTLING: Class of 2014 recruiting breakdown

Penn State will welcome another group of top recruits in the Class of 2014, three of whom -- Jason Nolf, Bo Nickal and Nick Nevills -- are ranked among the top 10 prospects in the nation.

As a result, when rankings become official, they should place Penn State's as one of the top two recruiting classes in the country. According to IntermatWrestle.com, Nevills (285) is the No. 4 recruit in the country, Nickal (174/184) is at No. 5 and Nolf (149-165) is No. 7. Meanwhile, fellow Penn State recruit Shakur Rasheed is ranked No. 56, and the Lions are also expected to add Anthony Cassar (197) and Gary Dinmore (165/74) for the 2014-15 season.

Overall, PSU's six-man recruiting class is challenged for the No. 1 spot by Ohio State, which signed three top-10 recruits, including Solanco's Thomas Haines (285), a four-time state champ who was formerly verbally committed to PSU, and Oklahoma State, which signed five top-65 recruits, but only one who made the top 10. That top-10 recruit is highly touted Pennsylvanian Chance Marsteller (157-174), another four-time state champ who initially committed to Penn State before flipping to the Cowboys in November. Iowa signed one in the top 10, two more in the top 65 and is expecting six in the full incoming class.

Penn State's recruits welcome the competition.

"If other teams get other good guys, I like challenges like that," Nevills said. "I like when it's close."

Blue White Illustrated takes a further look at Penn State's Class of 2014, here, with one-on-one conversations with the three top signees -- Nolf, Nickal and Nevills. Or, as they've come to be down on the Internet message boards, "The Law Firm."



JASON NOLF
149-165 | RURAL VALLEY, PA. | KITTANING

RESUME
176-1 career record, including a 44-0 mark as a senior… IntermatWrestle.com's No. 7 overall recruit... FloWrestling.com's No. 8 pound-for-pound high school wrestler in the country… No. 1 by FloWrestling and No. 2 Intermat at 145 pounds… Four-time PIAA Class AA finalist and three-time state champion, including Outstanding Wrestler honors in 2014… Four-time WPIAL champion… (Pittsburgh) Trib Total Media's Wrestler of the Year… Dapper Dan Team USA selection… Cliff Keen USA Dream Team selection… Also considered Cornell, Iowa and Stanford

WHAT'S NEW? "Postseason, I wanted to pin everybody - section through states. And I pinned everybody up until the quarterfinals of states. Then I won 14-6 or something. Then I pinned the next two kids in the semis and finals, but that kinda aggravated me or kinda made me mad because I wanted to pin everybody."

WHY PSU? "I look up to a lot of the Penn State guys and the way they wrestle. I like watching them wrestle and score a lot of points. That's kinda my style. I've developed that style after watching them. Yeah, I just like to dominate people."

Nolf also said location "was a big factor and the fact that my parents can just drive up the road and see me wrestle. There are a lot of things that made me choose Penn State."

COLLEGE OUTLOOK "I'm going in there expecting to dominate and just to win every match -- that's my mindset."

Nolf added that 149 is the lowest weight at which he would start his college career, and he thinks he could end up at 165. "My dad is pretty big, so I have some big shoes to grow into," he said.

POTENTIAL OF INCOMING CLASS "I think it's great. We have a lot of potential to just dominate, especially once we get up into the workout room. I think we'll get a lot better, especially with all those guys up there that they have now, so I'm excited."

TIM'S TAKE I talked about this with Nolf, and he agrees: His growth pattern has been very similar to that of two-time NCAA champ David Taylor, who started high school as a 103-pounder and finished his college career at 165. Nolf wrestled at 103 as a freshman, 120 as a sophomore, 132 as a junior and 145 as a senior, and he wrestled a couple bouts all the way up at 160. He weighs about 158 pounds currently and said 149 could be an option for his first couple years on campus, but 157 would be more likely.



BO NICKAL
174-197 | ALLEN, TEXAS | ALLEN

RESUME
181-7 career record, including a 29-0 mark as a senior… IntermatWrestle.com's No. 5 overall recruit... FloWrestling.com's No. 4 pound-for-pound high school wrestler in the country… No. 2 at 170 pounds by FloWrestling/IntermatWrestle… Three-time Class 5A individual state champion… Helped lead Allen to four consecutive Class 5A team tournament and dual meet titles… 2013 FILA Cadet National Champion… Dapper Dan Team USA selection… Cliff Keen USA Dream Team selection… Also considered Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma

WHAT'S NEW? "I went up to Dapper Dan and got to wrestle the top Pa. kid, who was pretty tough. Then after that we went up to Oklahoma City and watched the NCAA tournament. We got to watch Penn State win their fourth in a row, which was awesome and then we got to go to the after-party and stuff and meet a bunch of people. That was great. [April 12-13] I was in Georgia for the USA Dream Team Classic. That was kinda weird. It was actually my last high school match ever."

WHY PSU? "The atmosphere of the college campus and stuff was just amazing for my [official] visit in the fall. I got to go to the football game [against Michigan], and it was one of the coolest experiences in my life. I got to go down on the field with 110,000 people there. I was chilling with the wrestlers and we were maybe 10 rows up in the end zone. It was crazy."

COLLEGE OUTLOOK "Really whatever [weight class] is best for the team is where I'll be. That's pretty much the bottom line. If they need me at 174, 184 or 197 -- whatever is best for the team."

POTENTIAL OF INCOMING CLASS "After I met those guys, I noticed that right off the bat they have the right mindset, similar to mine. Their goals are really high and that's what I think is really important. We all have the same goals in mind -- winning national titles as individuals and as a team. So I think definitely us three and the other recruits, I'm sure, too, we'll just be able to feed off each other. When you get a lot of people together with common goals like that, and know how to work hard and prepare for it, we're bound to have a lot of success. So I'm just really excited to see what we can do up there."

TIM'S TAKE Nickal often draws comparisons to two-time Penn State national champ Quentin Wright. Nickal, who stands 6-foot-1, is built like Wright, but he also has a repertoire of throws, tosses and leg attacks from the neutral position. His father, Jason, sees the similarities. He also says Bo's low leg attacks are influenced by Taylor. But as Jason acknowledged, "I just hope that he can live up to that and so does he. You get compared to people like that, that's quite a compliment. You just hope someday that you can wrestle like him."



NICK NEVILLS
285 | CLOVIS, CALIF. | CLOVIS

RESUME
200-5 career record, including a 50-0 mark as a senior… IntermatWrestle.com's No. 4 overall recruit... FloWrestling.com's No. 6 pound-for-pound high school wrestler in the country… No. 1 at 285 pounds by FloWrestling/Intermat… The only heavyweight in the 42-year history of the California Interscholastic Federation to win three state championships… Helped lead Clovis to four consecutive team tournament titles… Tallied most pins (146) ever by a California wrestler, including 46 as a senior… The (Fresno) Bee's 2013-14 Wrestler of the Year… Dapper Dan Team USA selection… Cliff Keen USA Dream Team selection (did not compete)… Also considered Ohio State and Stanford, which is where his older brother Zach wrestles

WHAT'S NEW? "I was asked to do the [Cliff Keen USA Dream Team dual] in Georgia but I couldn't go. I was just ready for a break from competition. I just stayed home and hung out with my family. I did get online to watch Nolf and Nickal wrestle. It was really awesome to see them be monsters out there. I did that and then really I've just been training and working out. Getting in shape so I can go in right away and start taking Cael and Casey down. It's a big tall order, but to take [Jake] Varner down, too, and start competing from right when I get there. It'll be a challenge and if it doesn't happen right away, it'll eventually happen."

WHY PSU? "There are only three or four, maybe five, schools at the most in a given year that even remotely have a chance of winning the NCAAs, so I'm extremely proud and excited that I'm going to be on a team that's going to be in that championship race each and every year."

Nevills added, too, that while on his visits, he's made multiple stops at the Creamery, "which I also love" he said. "I think I had that four or five times while I was there. Cookie dough, every time. It was so good."

COLLEGE OUTLOOK "I'm just really looking forward to the next five years of my life, so it'll be really good. Then after those five years, I'll hopefully stay along more for the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club and keep wrestling with those guys. That will be really exciting."

POTENTIAL OF INCOMING CLASS "Even though things aren't going to be the same -- you don't have the David Taylors and Ed Ruths and Quentin Wrights and people like that on your team every year -- you can have a core group of 10 guys who know what they want and how they want to get it. [The coaches] have been around it before and I think this is what's going to happen with this incoming class. You've seen the success of the last couple years and I don't want it to stop. I'd love to keep winning, but that's going to depend on how hard everyone works. Everyone has to do their part. That's something that I'm looking forward to: going in there and doing the best I can to do, and hopefully it'll work out in the end. I'm just really excited that I'm even going to a place where were even talking about this."

TIM'S TAKE With Jon Gingrich and Jimmy Lawson exhausting their final season of eligibility in 2014-15, Nevills comes in at the perfect time. He'll have a season to redshirt and then he'll have four full seasons to lock down the 285-pound weight class. Nevills is surprisingly nimble and is known for his low leg attacks and pinning ability. As a senior, he broke the California record for falls, which had previously been held by Olympic gold medalist and Nittany Lion Wrestling Club resident athlete Jake Varner. Nevills will bring a lot of personality with him to Penn State, too.



GARY DINMORE
157-174 | FLEMINGTON, N.J. | HUNTERDON CENTRAL

RESUME
134-15 career record, including a 39-3 mark as a senior… FloWrestling.com's No. 16 152-pounder… Three-time NJSIAA state finalist… Four-time District 17 and Region 5 champion... Expected to grayshirt and join the roster for the 2015-16 season



SHAKUR RASHEED
157-174 | MIDDLE ISLAND, N.Y. | LONGWOOD

RESUME
192-15 career record, including 53 consecutive wins to conclude career… IntermatWrestle.com's No. 56 overall recruit... No. 7 by FloWrestling and IntermatWrestle at 160 pounds… Two-time Division I New York state champion, four-time finalist and 2014 Most Outstanding Wrestler


Anthony Cassar
197 | MONTGOMERY, N.J. | MONTGOMERY

RESUME
113-21 career record, including a 43-0 mark as a senior… Ranked No. 20 by IntermatWrestle at 195 pounds… 2014 NJSIAA state champion




KYLE BAKER
157-165 | EASTON, PA. | EASTON

RESUME
Finished senior year with a 28-7 record, but suffered a concussion in PIAA District 11 Class AAA 145-pound quarterfinals... Returned for the 34th annual Easton Lions Club All-Star Classic in which he won by fall and was named the Outstanding Wrestler


NICK WELDON
184 | BIRMINGHAM, ALA. | CLAY-CHALKVILLE

RESUME
Finished his career with 108 consecutive wins... Went 41-0 as a senior and 67-1 as a junior... two-time Class 6A state champ at 160 and 182 pounds... Named Metro Wrestler of the Year by Birmingham News



JORDAN PAGANO
165-174 | SOUTH BRUNSWICK, N.J. | BERGEN CATHOLIC

RESUME
Finished with a career record of 130-29, including a 37-8 mark as a senior... Fourth-place finisher at New Jersey state tournament... two-time county, region and district champion


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