Joseph talks PSU commitment
While Penn State normally begins racking up wrestling recruits during the summer, it took until Sept. 29 to land its first verbal commitment for the Class of 2015.
Vincenzo Joseph announced Monday night via Twitter that he'll be attending Penn State after his senior year at Pittsburgh (Pa.) Central Catholic. According to FloWrestling.com, he's the top-ranked 145-pounder in the country for the 2014-15 season.
Even if their first commitment came a little later than usual, it's another solid addition for the four-time NCAA champs.
"I'm pretty happy especially since I'm going to Penn State, which I know is definitely the best place out there right now," said Joseph, who goes by the name Cenzo. "It's just a relief that I can focus more on school and training for the season, so I'm pretty happy."
In addition to the Nittany Lions, Joseph also considered Cornell, Iowa, Virginia Tech and Ohio State. He took all five of his official visits to those schools recently, as he wanted to check out all of his options before making a final decision. He can sign his letter of intent in November.
"I went to a lot of different places," he said. "I just took all five of my visits to make sure I got a good feel for every school that I was really looking at. I was really considering all five of them. I never really went down to a top two. I just picked from the five."
Joseph officially visited Penn State the weekend of Sept. 20 when the football team hosted UMass. He was able to be on the field beforehand and enjoy the game-day atmosphere, in addition to further getting to know the coaching staff and the current team.
As he admitted, however, "I'm not really a big football-game guy."
"I get bored after a little bit," he laughed. "But I [unofficially visited] a little bit during the summer session, went to a few club practices and I really liked the guys and their attitude toward the sport. I just felt comfortable."
Comfort with Penn State and its campus is another reason why Joseph selected the Nittany Lions.
His most recent official visit (Sept. 27) was to Iowa, and while he enjoyed the trip, he came to the conclusion that his familiarity with Penn State and its location makes for a better fit for his future.
"It's close to home, obviously," he said. "And I have a brother [Victor], who goes to school there so it works out pretty well."
Additionally he has built prior relationships with current Nittany Lion wrestlers Nico Megaludis and Jimmy Gulibon, both of whom hail from the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League, like Joseph.
As well as being from the Pittsburgh area, Megaludis, Gulibon and Joseph have also trained with the same club teams. So they have a relationship that dates back before Joseph's middle school days.
That prior connection, Joseph said, also helped him decide upon Penn State.
"It definitely did because I know guys who go there and wrestle there and they just tell me how awesome it is," he said. "And I believe them because they're all good guys and I like all of them, so it was definitely a big factor."
After finishing seventh in Pennsylvania as a freshman at 106 pounds, and then finishing third as a sophomore at 120, Joseph won his first PIAA title as a junior at 138, wrestling for head coach Sanshiro Abe, a 1996 Penn State national champion.
Joseph, who owns a 105-20 overall high school record, is expected to compete at 145 as a senior. Finishing his career with back-to-back state titles is one of the top priorities.
"My ultimate goal is an undefeated season," he said. "That's first and foremost. But, also, win Ironman, Powerade, states, everything, but I just want to go out [during] each match and score points - score as many points as I can."
That's a philosophy that PSU coaches will certainly embrace once Joseph arrives on campus next summer.
Asked at which weight class he projects himself in college, Joseph replied, "149 sounds about pretty good."
"If I was in college right now I'd probably be wrestling 141," he continued, "but after another year or so of growth, even if I redshirt a year, I feel like 149 is a pretty good weight class for me [in college]."
As of his commitment, Penn State had six wrestlers on its roster who could potentially compete at 149 this season. Only one has senior eligibility.
Despite PSU having loaded depth at his projected weight class, including one of last year's top recruits in Jason Nolf from Kittanning, Pa., the competition certainly did not turn Joseph away.
"I thought it was a really good thing," he said. "There's just so many great guys to work out with, especially now that [Frank] Molinaro is on the staff, which is just another awesome workout partner for me. I look at it as a good thing, and there's really no other place in the country where I'll be able to train and get as good of partners as I can at Penn State."