The recruiting, it is good for the Iowa Hawkeyes wrestling team right now. Tom Brands & Co. hauled in another big-time recruit on Monday night, securing a verbal from Class of 2019 recruit Abe Assad:
Many people have supported me along the way, and Im excited to share that Ill be staying in the black & gold. Ive decided to peruse my academic and athletic goals at the University of Iowa. Thank you to my coaches, family, and friends for their support. #GoHawks #RTFU #GDN pic.twitter.com/jXSby9H0YC
— Abe Assad (@abe_assad) August 7, 2018
Assad, who projects at 184 lbs, is one of the top prospects in the 2019 recruiting class. He's currently ranked #1 at 182 lbs (your friendly reminder that high school weights are slightly different than college weights) by Flowrestling and is coming off a hugely impressive summer that saw his recruiting stock soar. As IAWrestle noted, Assad was ranked in the 80s by Flo before the summer but he's since rocketed up to #13 overall in Flo's rankings ($). Assad went 51-0 as a junior at Glenbard North in Illinois (home of former Iowa national champion Tony Ramos), but he turned a lot of heads on the freestyle scene this summer when he beat New Jersey's Julian Ramirez, a top 10 overall recruit in the Class of 2019, to win the 80 KG spot on the U.S. freestyle team competing at the Cadet World Championships. (He also won the 80 KG World Team spot in Greco Roman, as well.) He went on to earn a bronze medal at Cadet Worlds. Per our pals at IAWrestle, he's enjoyed some other freestyle success as well:
He also claimed the 2018 Illinois state title at 170 pounds, took third at USA Wrestling’s Preseason Nationals in 2017, and placed in both styles at Fargo for two straight years. In 2016 Assad took second in Greco-Roman and sixth in freestyle, then took first in Greco and second in freestyle last summer.
Assad was originally committed to Army, but decommitted after his triumphant run at Cadet World Team Trials turned him into a major recruiting target. He chose Iowa over offers from Ohio State, Michigan, and North Carolina.
“Being a wrestler at Iowa is like being a football player at Alabama. It’s awesome.”– Abe assad
He was swayed by a meeting with the Brands brothers on his unofficial visit (“They’re crazy on the mat, you know? But when I went to visit, I found that they’re really awesome guys.") and, of all things, an encounter with a campus maintenance worker at Hillcrest who recognized him, as Cody Goodwin reported at Hawk Central.
The other thing luring Assad to cross the border and join the Iowa program? The collection of talent that Tom and Terry Brands and Ryan Morningstar have been putting together over the last few years. As he told Flo:
Another reason I picked Iowa was because I felt like we have a legitimate chance at winning a national title while I’m there. They are bringing in studs.
Assad joins a recruiting class that includes Zach Glazier, ranked #32 overall by Flo; Iowa also added Patrick Kennedy, a Top 10 overall recruit in the Class of 2020, earlier this summer. Fitting that trio into the lineup could be tricky as all three appear to project around 174-184 right now. 165 might be available after the 2020-21 season when Alex Marinelli graduates. And 197 should be available after the 2021-22 season when Jacob Warner is set to graduate. So there's some wiggle room there and, anyway, that's a problem to deal with down the road. For now it's worth noting that Iowa's recruiting (including their activity in the transfer market) has made for some very exciting future possibilities, as Chad Leistikow spitballed:
Am I doing this right? A possible 2020-21 Iowa wrestling lineup:
125: S Lee, Sr
133: J Renteria, RS Jr
141: A DeSanto, RS Jr
149: M Murin, RS Jr
157: K Young, RS Sr
165: A Marinelli, RS Sr
174: P Kennedy, Fr
184: A Assad, RS Fr
197: J Warner, RS Jr
Hwt: T Cassioppi, RS Soph
— Chad Leistikow (@ChadLeistikow) August 7, 2018
It's been a long time since Iowa was on top of the podium at the NCAA Tournament (too long), and obviously there's still a lot of work to do and they have to put it all together on the mat... but the moves Iowa has made this summer have put them in a position where they appear closer to being able to contend for national title #24 than they have in quite a while. They're filling positions of need with some options that appear to be very high-quality and eliminating holes in the lineup. That's how you put together a team that can bring some hardware back to Iowa City. Welcome to Iowa, Mr. Assad.