2010-2011 Pre-Season All American Predictions: 184 Pounds
by, 10-24-2010 at 09:19 AM (830 Views)
1. Kirk Smith (Boise State)
2. Quentin Wright (Penn State)
3. Dustin Kilgore (Kent State)
4. Chris Perry (Oklahoma State)
5. Joe LeBlanc (Wyoming)
6. Chris Honeycutt (Edinboro)
7. Mike Miller (Central Michigan)
8. AJ Kissel (Purdue)
R12. Steve Bosak (Cornell), Grant Gambrall (Iowa), Brent Haynes (Missouri), Jon Fausey (Virginia)
1. Kirk Smith (Boise State)
2. Quentin Wright (Penn State)
3. Chris Perry (Oklahoma State)
4. Joe LeBlanc (Wyoming)
5. Chris Honeycutt (Edinboro)
6. AJ Kissel (Purdue)
7. Jon Fausey (Virginia)
8. Lee Munster (Northwestern)
R12. Steve Bosak (Cornell), Grant Gambrall (Iowa), Travis Rutt (Wisconsin), Robert Hamlin (Lehigh)
Kirk Smith comes into this season after putting up a banner year in 2009/2010 en route to finishing second in the country, and then having a pretty stellar summer including a decisive win at WTT's over Quentin Wright. The fact that I needed to see that win over Wright to convince myself to pick him here speaks to the fact that Smith is a guy who is still very underrated by most everyone. Last year he beat Travis Rutt three times, he beat Phil Keddy twice, and then he had other wins over Joe LeBlanc, John Dergo, Steve Bosak, Zack Giesen, Jerome Ward, and Michael Cannon. He's a guy wrestles an incredibly efficient style from neutral. He doesn't pull the trigger as often as he probably should based on his ability but when he goes he almost always scores. Askren worked him from top last year in the finals, but that really isn't indicative of any lack of quality in Smith's mat wrestling as Askren worked everyone from top at NCAA's last year.
Wright is a guy who took a redshirt year last year, and the thing that sticks out the most about him immediately coming into the season is just how well he seemingly was able to add size to his very large frame. Looking at him wrestling freestyle this spring he looks every bit a legit full sized 184 pounder. Last year while redshirting he had two wins over his teammate Ed Ruth, and then other wins over Jon Fausey, Josh Patterson, and David Erwin. This spring in freestyle he had wins over Chris Pendleton, Doug Umbehauer, Grant Gambrall, and Mack Lewnes. He's a guy who has a very diverse offensive arsenal and that should serve him well coming into this year. He can wrestle straight up as evidenced by his five TD explosion against Jay Borschel in the Big 10 semi's two years ago. Then he has big moves that he can hit from the feet particularly a headlock, and a lateral drop. On top he's very tough on guys with his leg rides. Also, no matter how you feel about Cael Sanderson's ability to coach an entire team he's proven to be an excellent coach of individual upperweight wrestlers and that's a fact that certainly points to another stellar year from Wright.
One thing that is going to be interesting in following Wright this season is to see whether or not he's able to beat Chris Perry in folkstyle after losing four or five matches in a row over the last two years in freestyle. Perry comes in this year looking like he'll be locked in a season long battle with Logan Stieber and David Taylor for the title of best freshman. He's got a great pedigree with his brother Mark's well known accomplishments. Last year he didn't wrestle a ton of folkstyle matches but still recorded a solid win over Deron Winn. This spring in freestyle he had two more aforementioned wins over Quentin Wright, and then other wins over Grant Gambrall, Lee Munster, Chris Pendelton, and Mike Tamillow. Unlike Mark he is at his best up on the feet. He is smooth, he has a great inside single leg series that he's able to get in on and finish very quickly. We don't know how good he will be on the mat against the higher level guys at this weight, and that's an area where Quentin Wright may be able to take advantage in their possible matches against each other.
Joe LeBlanc comes in this year after recording a more consistent overall year as a sophomore en route to the second All American finish of his career. He's someone who wrestles a very wide open and exciting style from all positions on the mat. Very aggressive wrestler from neutral, and then he's also a guy who is very strong from top as he proved when he nearly pinned Max Askren last year in the semi's at NCAA's. Last year he had a pair of wins over Josh Ihnen, and then other victories over Steve Bosak, Mike Pucillo, Zack Giesen, David Erwin, John Dergo, and Clayton Foster. With Wyoming not going to the Body Bar or to Las Vegas this year (and Oklahoma State not coming to Reno) he's a guy who won't have quite as many opportunities this year to test himself against the top level guys at this weight. Has a great situation with Mark Branch as his head coach and Chris Pendleton as a newly hired assistant. You wonder if he'll wind up incorporating any of Branch's brutal leg rides to his style over the next couple of years. Perhaps not to pin with, but just as a way to shorten matches against the top level guys.
Chris Honeycutt comes off a redshirt this year and whether he's ready for it or not will in my opinion assume the title of the single most underrated guy in the country over the course of this coming year. Last year as a redshirt he beat Quentin Wright, and Dustin Kilgore (while no less impressive the win over Kilgore isn't quite as relevant anymore since he's going 197) in matches that will almost assuredly be ignored by everyone in the country when it comes to projecting matches between them, and I'm including myself when I bring this topic up. Other than those two wins he also beat Ed Ruth, Zac Thomusseit, and Steve Bosak last year en route to a 26-1 overall record. Was Round of 12 two years ago at NCAA's being sent home by LeBlanc. Very opportunistic wrestler stylistically, he's someone who is generally very good at jumping on his opponents if they make a mistake.
AJ Kissel comes in this year as yet another guy at this weight class who took a redshirt year last year. Stylistically he's someone who has big moves from the feet, and then he's also someone who is probably at his best wrestling on top. He's a guy who has big moves, and uses those big moves not only to score points but pick up pins having recorded double digit fall numbers as both a freshman and a sophomore. The problem that he can run into his that he'll struggle with guys who are very proficient technically on their feet, and its not like there are a shortage of those guys here at this weight class. Last year we didn't see much of him at all as he only wrestled three matches. One of those matches was a nice win, a major over redshirting Wisconsin wrestler Derrick Borlie. If Kissel was able to use that redshirt year to tighten up his neutral game then he's someone who should see a lot of success this year, if he comes out as more or less the same guy as two years ago he's someone who I probably have overrated here at #6.
Jon Fausey comes into this season as someone who will in all likelihood remain pretty under the radar for a while. Those that have heard of him will likely remember him as the guy who beat Chris Perry in the Dapper Dan two years ago, but for little else. He's a guy though that has more to him than just that one upset. Last year as a redshirt he had a solid year recording wins over Joe Budi and Patrick Bradshaw. Then in freestyle this spring he wrestled very well in age group competition recording two wins over Nate Schiedel, and then other wins over Ed Ruth, Erich Schmidtke, and Austin Trotman. Stylistically he likes to work a russian tie on his opponent's left side from neutral and then look to work off that tie into a quick single. If he goes to the other side generally he'll look to hit a knee pull single, and if he gets caught underneath going for that shot he can come back the other way and look for a dump. If he's unable to secure his russian he will occasionally take shots without setting them up, have to figure that's something that he'll have worked on during the redshirt year. He's a guy who also looks to be very tough on the mat. Very good funk defense, and then looks to have a great touch for wrestling from the bottom. He hit a nice step over in several freestyle matches that I watched. Looks to be a guy who should be solid wrestling from top as well. Virginia's room has been relatively successful the last couple of years with their upperweights in Henrich, Salopek, and Jones and with all three of those guys still in and around the room it can only help Fausey.
Lee Munster squeezes onto this list as my second true freshman All American after news came out that he would not be taking a redshirt this year at Northwestern, and given how well developed he is physically I see him having a lot of success immediately for the Wildcats. His high school accolades should be well known already as he had great success both within Illinois and out at Fargo through out his career. This spring he won FILA Juniors recording wins over Kevin Steinhaus, Jake Swartz, and Grant Gambrall in the process. He has a judo background which should provide an interesting variable in his matches since its something that guys won't see very often. He's also got Jake Herbert in the room as one of his coaches which should obviously be a phenomenal help in aiding his development.[/QUOTE]