It's harvest season around Iowa -- but farmers aren't the only ones bringing home their crops. Iowa wrestling has been on a tear in recruiting the last few weeks, but they scored potentially their biggest get of the whole lot on Thursday, with the news that Missouri wrestler Jaydin Eierman is transferring to Iowa.
I'm committing to the University of Iowa because of its tradition and love for the sport. I wanted a place that could take my career further after college and i feel that this is the best opportunity for me. I believe that the coaching staff at Iowa can take me to the next level. I'm on the same mission, same me, same color, a better feel. Get ready Hawkeye nation!!
Eierman announced his decision with a post on Instagram, saying that "I'm committing to the University of Iowa because of its tradition and love for the sport. I wanted a place that could take my career further after college and i feel that this is the best opportunity for me. I believe that the coaching staff at Iowa can take me to the next level. I'm on the same mission, same me, same color, a better feel. Get ready Hawkeye nation!!"
One of the key phrases in Eierman's statement is "take my career further after college." Missouri offers limited opportunities there, while Iowa has the Hawkeye Wrestling Club, an increasingly well-supported post-collegiate wrestling training center run by Mark Perry.
What makes this news so big? Because unlike the high school recruits Iowa has picked up in recent weeks, whose value is measured by their potential, Eierman's value is measured by his production -- which has been excellent. In his three years at Mizzou, Eierman finished each season on the podium at the NCAA Tournament, earning All-America honors as a freshman, sophomore, and junior. His results have shown a steady path of improvement too; he finished 5th as a freshman, 4th as a sophomore, and 3rd as a junior. There's no need to wait and see how Eierman develops; he's the real deal and an absolute stud right now.
That said, there are two caveats to Eierman's move: he won't be a part of Iowa's push for a national championship this year and he has just one year of eligibility remaining, so he's strictly a short-term boost. Eierman is using an Olympic redshirt this season as he tries to earn the starting spot at 65 kg on the U.S. national team heading to Tokyo next summer. So he won't compete in any duals for Iowa this year, nor will he be available for the Big Ten or NCAA Tournaments in March. Iowa's quest for a national championship in 2020 will have to be accomplished without Eierman's services. But Eierman will be in an Iowa singlet next winter (2020-21), helping Iowa either repeat as national champions or finally get over the hump (if they're not able to do so this year). Only having one year of eligibility is a bummer, but c'est la vie -- one (potentially) great year is worth it.
The bigger question is exactly where Eierman fits into Iowa's lineup in 2020-21. He's wrestled his entire career to date at 141 lbs, so slotting in there certainly could be an option. But Iowa may have two wrestlers duking it out there as it is in Austin DeSanto and 2018-19 starter Max Murin. DeSanto has expressed interest in wanting to move up a weight in the past (and may do so this year, in fact), while Murin improved over the course of his redshirt freshman season and will surely put forth a battle to keep his spot. That said, there might be a ready-made solution: move Eierman to 149 lbs and let him replace Pat Lugo, who will graduate after this season. Iowa doesn't have an heir apparent at 149 at the moment and Eierman has indicated that he'd be willing to make that move. Regardless, that's an issue that ought to sort itself out next winter.
Eierman seems like a wrestler who will quickly endear himself to Iowa fans as well. As The Des Moines Register's Cody Goodwin noted, "Eierman is known for his innovative, aggressive wrestling style, a mix of explosive and entertaining with a small hint of funk." He comes to Iowa with a 91-14 record as a starter -- and bonus points in around 60% of his matches. As a sophomore, Eierman went 34-3 and had bonus points in 70% of his matches. As a junior, he went 28-4 and had bonus points in 63% of his matches. He's a guy who will score points and put up some fireworks. He's also a pinner; he had 17 pins last season, 18 as a sophomore, and 7 as a freshman. So 42 of his 91 wins have come via pinfall; I think Iowa fans will take to that. Between Eierman, Spencer Lee, and Anthony Cassioppi, Iowa could have some prolific pinners in its lineup.
Welcome to Iowa, Jaydin. We can't wait to see what you do in our shade of black and gold next year.