In my round-up of comings and goings in the Iowa wrestling program a few weeks ago, I noted that there may be further movement, in particular that there had been a lot of discussion about the talented (but controversial) Pat Downey III joining Iowa as a grad transfer. Downey himself strongly suggested it was happening with this tweet:
yall can keep doubting me. idc. IM BRINGING THAT NATIONAL TITLE BACK TO IOWA THE SAME WAY I DID @ IOWA CENTRAL #SQUAD
PDIII (@iAmPatDowney) August 8, 2017
And last Friday Andy Hamilton confirmed the news:
— Trackwrestling (@trackwrestling) August 18, 2017
There hasn't been any official confirmation from Iowa -- and there likely won't be any word from them until Downey is an actual member of the team, which won't be for a few months yet (more on that in a moment) -- but Hamilton is as good a source as it gets in the college wrestling world. If he says Downey is heading to Iowa, then I believe him.
As I said in my initial post, Downey, a former All-American, is a... polarizing figure, to put it mildly. He was dismissed from Iowa State earlier this year for "repeated violations of team rules" and has had several legal issues in the past as well. His Twitter feed has been particularly infamous over the last few years, especially after his dismissal from Iowa State. On the other hand, he comes across better in this piece.
In Hamilton's post expanding on Downey's plans, he certainly seems to understand what he needs to do:
“I approach it like my life depends on it,” Downey said. “It’s all or nothing. I only have one more crack at accomplishing my goal. I felt like I could’ve got it done last year at ‘84 for the Cyclones, but I didn’t get the chance to prove myself at the tournament, obviously. I’m just looking forward to having the opportunity to compete."
“I can’t be out in the bars and the avenues and being around the college party scene,” he said. “I can’t be doing that kind of lifestyle, it’s just not what’s needed to be an NCAA champion. That’s not how I can represent the school."
Saying the right thing is one thing; doing it is another. Iowa will be the fourth school that Downey has wrestled at during his career, as Tony Hager recapped over at IAWrestle. He started at Nebraska, then moved to Iowa Central (where he became a JUCO national champion), and finally made his ill-fated move to Iowa State, where he's been the last few years.
I have to assume that his opportunity at Iowa comes with a short leash. If he makes any missteps, Brands (and Iowa) will almost certainly cut bait on him immediately. That said, if Downey can stay out of trouble (and stay healthy), he has high-end potential. He finished 5th at 197 lbs at the 2016 NCAA Tournament, although 184 appears to be his more natural weight. With the departure of Sammy Brooks at 184 and incoming Top 10 recruit Jacob Warner expected to redshirt at 197, Iowa could use help at either weight this season. Downey has indicated that he wants to wrestle at 184 lbs this year; he went 7-0 at 184 last season and also defeated two-time 184 lb NCAA champion Gabe Dean this summer, albeit in freestyle. Downey finished fifth at 86 KG at the U.S. Open freestyle event in April.
We'll have to wait a while for our first opportunity to see Downey in an Iowa singlet, though. He still needs to finish his undergraduate degree at Iowa State, which he intends to do via online classes while living in Iowa City this fall and training with the Hawkeye Wrestling Club. Assuming he completes his undergrad degree, he would be eligible to start with Iowa in the second semester as a grad transfer. While Downey can compete unattached this fall in events like the Luther Open, Grand View Open, or Midlands, he won't compete in any of Iowa's dual meets. Of course, the wrestling schedule is backloaded for second semester anyway, and Iowa's is especially so in 2017-18. If Downey is eligible to compete for Iowa in second semester, he could suit up for Iowa's Top 10 duals against Oklahoma State, Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State, which could include marquee match-ups against Top 10 talents like Myles Martin (Ohio State) and Domenic Abounader (Michigan), as well as defending NCAA champion Bo Nickal (Penn State). Downey would also be able to compete in the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments in March, of course.