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College Update for July 12: News from Virginia Tech, Fresno State's battle and more recruiting



By Jason Bryant
jbryant@intermatwrestle.com

There's no shortage of wrestling news, with the lawsuit between five student-athletes intent on suing Virginia Tech for an immediate release, wrestling supporters and boosters in California trying to bring back Fresno State wrestling, and of course, the discussion involving the USA Wrestling Junior National Duals in Oklahoma.

The Virginia Tech/Iowa transfer situation has been sticky from the start. There's too much hearsay coming from both sides to figure out who's right and who's wrong, but many folks already have their minds made up - depending on what part of the country they live.

New Virginia Tech coach Kevin Dresser has been trying to piece together a recruiting class, while his coaching staff has come together as well.

While there hasn't been an official announcement from the school, 2004 NCAA runner-up Pat Cummins of Penn State will be named an assistant coach shortly. Cummins hire led to the re-commitment of one of Dresser's top high school wrestlers, Cody Gardner of Christiansburg.

Having originally committed when Tom Brands was the coach back in February, Gardner, named the nation's top recruit for the 2006-07 season by InterMat, stuck with his initial commitment, informing the media that he will head to Blacksburg in the fall of 2007.

Also committing were Great Bridge's four-time state placewinner and three-time state runner-up Matt Rosen. The projected 125/133 pounder originally committed to James Madison, but Dresser ponied up a better offer to help fill a need for the Hokies.

The unfortunate situation at Fresno State filled another hole for Virginia Tech, as Florida two-time state champion Andre Johnson announced his commitment to Dresser, filling a need at 141. Johnson was coached by Shawn Sheldon and Jeff Prescott at Jupiter Christian, a 1A school in Florida.

Billy Murphy, the two-time California state champion who committed to Brands while he was at Virginia Tech, had his National Letter of Intent voided and he's announced he'll now head to Iowa. Murphy only took two recruiting trips in the fall - one to Iowa, one to Virginia Tech.

Speaking of Fresno State
With the loss of Johnson and Alex McKinney to other schools, incoming Fresno athletes are still playing a waiting game. According to former Fresno State head wrestling coach Dennis DeLiddo, the University wants supporters of the program to raise one-to-two million dollars - a year - to bring back the program. The monies would be used to then finance wrestling and two women's sports.

The issue is now that wrestling is no longer a sport and to "add" the program, due to gender equity issues, it would take two women's sports to offset the numbers of potential roster spots.

The release put out by Fresno State about the savings of $400,000 annually also doesn't mesh well with DeLiddo. "We were on a $291,000 operating budget," he said.

Fresno State wrestling supporters will now turn their attention to CSUF president Dr. John Welty.

Want to help? Find out more about the movement at savefresnowrestling.com , a website launched by women's wrestler and photographer Danielle Hobeika.

Recruiting news
Josh Patterson of Wayne, N.Y., the NHSCA senior national champion at 171 pounds had been released from his NLI from Binghamton after Tony Robie left to become the associate head coach at Virginia Tech. But after seeking out potential programs, Patterson elected to stay with his initial commitment and will stay at Binghamton with his brothers, who also attend the school.

Another wrestler released from an NLI and signing elsewhere was Jake Smith of Bennington, Nebraska. Smith initially signed with UT-Chattanooga and coach Joe Seay, but after Seay stepped down, Smith was released from his NLI and eventually signed with Wyoming.

Gardner, InterMat's No. 1 recruit announced his intentions early, as did No. 9 Kirk Smith of Centennial High in Idaho. Smith will stay around town, committing to Boise State last week.

Other early commitments from the 2006-07 class are Sandpoint, Idaho's Joey Fio to Oklahoma, Zach Sanders of Wabasha-Kellogg, Minn., to Minnesota and McMichael, N.C. rising senior Chris Bullins to UNC Greensboro.

With the 2005-06 classes, many smaller programs are now getting deposits from incoming recruits and have reported them.

Heidelberg added a slew of Ohio kids, highlighted by Zach Mizer of Canton. West Liberty State in Divison II added 20-something new wrestlers, many from West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

North Central, Seton Hill and Olivet also announced large incoming classes.

Jeff Slaughter, a student at Bishop Rummell in Metaire, La., was displaced by Hurricane Katrina and ended up at Stillwater High School in Oklahoma. Slaughter finished as a state runner-up and has committed to wrestle at Nebraska.
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