On Wednesday afternoon, Cael Sanderson and the Penn State wrestling program received a bit of good news when top-ranked recruit Robert Howard (Bergen Catholic High School, NJ) committed to the Nittany Lions. Howard is an elite recruit and projects to be a lightweight at the next level. Per FloWrestling, Howard is the No. 3 pound-for-pound recruit in the country, and he ranks No. 1 for all high schoolers projected to wrestle at 133 pounds in college.
— Robert Howard (@Robbie__Howard) December 5, 2018
In an interview with FloWrestling, Howard had this to say,
"Penn State is the place I can do what I want and have the career that someone like me should have....I have high standards, and Penn State has high standards. If I'm held to those standards by the coaching staff, I can win as many as national championships as possible."
Howard is currently entering his junior season at Bergen Catholic where he is 69-4 in his career. He is the reigning New Jersey state champion at 120 pounds, and will compete this season at 126 pounds. Despite Howard's obvious talents, he has not shied away from elite competition, and has handled adversity well. He lost the state championship his freshman year due to a locked hands call against Antonio Minnino, a loss he would avenge one year later in the state semifinals. Here is video of Howard clinching the win in sudden victory against Minnino in 2018:
When Howard gets to Penn State, he anticipates redshirting his true freshman season behind current 133-pound standout Roman Bravo-Young.
Everyone's held back now, I didn't get held back...Everyone redshirts, if I don't redshirt that'd put me like 2-3 years behind the curve. So I think the plan right now would be for me to redshirt, just based on lineup and getting a year of college wrestling under my belt before I step up."
Howard has already competed against current true freshman Brody Teske (125) for a spot on a UWW cadet world team. Howard won that match 9-8 late with a takedown as time expired. Howard also knows what it means to wrestle at Penn State. He understands he's going to be a target and that Penn State is the dynasty in college wrestling right now.
"I'm gonna turn into a villain real quick. And I'm gonna be on the team that everyone hates."
133 pounds currently is one of the two weight classes in which Penn State has yet to claim a national title under Cael Sanderson. Between Howard and Bravo-Young, the Nittany Lions are in maybe the best shape to change that mark. Howard's commitment will also give the Nittany Lions some peace of mind over the recent decommitment of Adam Busiello, who also figured to be in the mix at 133 pounds. Howard has all the makings to be one of the true greats at Penn State, and it will be exciting to see him compete in the blue and white when he begins his collegiate career.