So last night, after Michigan's big 31-6 blow out of Penn State, me and another poster were having an IM conversation about Michigan Wrestling in the future. It got me to thinking about how awesome this team could be in 2 years. Here's a breakdown of a potential lineup for next year. Note the lack of seniors. This is why I think 2 years from now could be SPECIAL:
125: Sean Boyle (Blair Academy, NJ): Boyle is currently ranked 4th in the nation at 119 pounds in all classes. Blair is the premier wrestling program in American and is the same school that produced Michigan's current 141 pounder, Kellen Russell. With Michael Watts graduating and no immediate high profile pickups waiting in the wings, Boyle could start as a true freshman.
133: Eric Grajales (Brandon, FL): Grajales is also currently a highly rated HS recruit. He's #1 in the nation across all classes at 135 pounds. He will almost certainly start as a true freshman. Other options here include moving him up to 149 and keeping Zac Stevens in at 133 for another year, or moving him to 141 and bumping Russell to 149. For now, let's just say he goes 133.
141: Kellen Russell (Blair Academy, NJ): Russell is currently a sophomore and one of Michigan's most talented wrestlers. He finished with a 32-7 record and was Big Ten Champion at 141 pounds as a true freshman last year. He's currently ranked 5th in the country according to InterMat.com. He most certainly will start again, either here, or as previously stated, at 149 pounds.
149: Assuming my prediction is correct and Grajales and Russell cover 133/141, there are two options here. Mark Beaudry (Pueblo South, CO) is the current starter. However, Mark Weber (Goodrich, MI) was a 4x MHSAA champion and was 2nd in the nation at 135 as a senior last year. Weber is currently in his true freshman year and is not using his redshirt. He could use his redshirt next year, or become the starter.
157: Aaron Hynes (Flint Kearsley, MI): Before becoming a starter this year, Hynes had a 45-13 record in open tournaments. The sophomore is beginning to adjust nicely to the starting lineup. The 2x state champion should start the next two years beyond this one.
165: Justin Zeerip (Hesperia, MI): Just a redshirt freshman, Zeerip has struggled for much of this season. However, in his redshirt year, Zeerip went 23-6 in opens last season. He was a 4x undefeated state champ (260-0) in HS and took 3rd in the nation as a senior. He was a high profile recruit and should have a bright future. Perhaps a glimpse of that future was seen just last night when he defeated a Penn State wrestler who took 3rd at the NCAA's last year.
174: With Steve Luke graduating and nobody listed as a 174 pounder, Michigan might have to scratch to fill this spot next year. If anybody has an idea for 174, I'd love to hear it.
184: Hunter Collins (Gilroy, CA): Collins was one of the top recruits in last years class. He's currently taking his redshirt, but likely has a bright future as a 4 year starter. This year, he's lost in the numbers game amongst the veteran upper weights. He was a 4x California all-state wrestler. (California HS's compete in only ONE division, so this is a big deal). He was a Reno Champ in high school, and took 2nd in the nation at 171 pounds as a senior, losing to 3x Michigan champ and current CMU wrestler Ben Bennett in the finals.
197: Anthony Biondo (Chippewa Valley, MI): Currently ranked 13th in the nation at 184 pounds, Biondo will be entering his junior year next year. He was a 3x Michigan champ and an all-american as a senior. He could also remain at 184 with Collins coming up next year. However, this might be the better option with Biondo, the older wrestler, taking the higher weight. Keep in mind, Biondo was Michgian's starter here before switching weights with current senior Ty Todd this year.
285: Eddie Phillips (Lakewood, MI): Phillips is a sophomore and is a very athletic heavy. He was Michigan's 189 champ as a senior at Lakewood. He struggles at times, but has become a serviceable starter. Maybe he breaks out as a junior next year? He'll be pushed by Romeo's Chad Bleske for this spot.
Incoming recruits: Currently, I know of 4 recruits coming in next year. Dan Boyle and Eric Grajales were both mentioned as possible starters in the light weights. Michigan is also bring in Brandon Zeerip. Zeerip is the younger brother of current starter Justin. The younger Zeerip is the 10th ranked 152 pound wrestler in the country. Michigan also brings in a more unheralded national level recruit in Dundee's Pete Rendina. It is unclear at this time what type of future Rendina would have at Michigan, but he is a top senior in Michigan this year. His pull could also help with current HS sophomore Joey Rendina. Joey may be a top 5 in-state recruit as a senior.
Any more thoughts, I'd love to hear them.