Projecting The 2019-2020 Penn State Lineup

By Rob Dougherty on March 26, 2019 at 8:00 am
Anthony Cassar could come back next season, but Penn State has a strong heavyweight behind him if he leaves.
Douglas DeFelice - USA Today Sports
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Following another national championship, Penn State will enter the 2019-20 season without two lineup stalwarts that have been among the best ever. Bo Nickal and Jason Nolf were were a major reason why Penn State has four straight team titles and a 58-0 record in duals over their careers. Replacing that kind of production is never easy with one elite wrestler leaving, let alone two. 

A group of young freshmen who have a chance to will be led by Aaron Brooks and Michael Beard. Their inclusion in a Penn State lineup will be at least somewhat determined by a potential medical redshirt for Shakur Rasheed or incoming Kent State transfer Kyle Conel. However, it would be no surprise for either Brooks or Beard to take either Rasheed's or Conel's spot. Following greyshirt years, they seem primed to take starting jobs if they are available. Anthony Cassar could also qualify for a medical redshirt, but whether he wants to return when he's accomplished everything at the NCAA level is another story. 

The NCAA offers Olympic redshirts to successful wrestlers at the NCAA or international level. You can expect to see quite a few wrestlers take advantage of the Olympic redshirt rule to achieve their dreams of qualifying for the Olympics. Missouri's 141-pound starter Jaydin Eierman has already announced his intention to use his Olympic redshirt. For a wrestler to get an Olympic redshirt, they must meet one of the following four criteria:

  1. Past national team members - Top 3 from the World or Olympic Team Trials 
  2. Top 8 at the US Senior Open in 2019 
  3. One of Top 3 at the 2019 NCAA Wrestling Championships or prior year NCAA champion, and a Top 2 finish from the U-23 World Team Trials
  4. Previous cadet, junior or world medalist

As you can see, the criteria for this is very broad and will allow a number of wrestlers to take an Olympic redshirt. Here are the current Penn State wrestlers that are eligible, and how they managed to achieve it: 

Manville is probably the most likely to take an Olympic redshirt because of his Greco-Roman aspirations. He made the world team in 2017 and went 1-1 at the world championships. After missing out to Kamal Bey for the 2018 world team spot, Manville taking a redshirt to focus solely on Greco makes a lot of sense. Manville also will likely still be behind either Vincenzo Joseph at 165 pounds or Mark Hall at 174 pounds. Taking the redshirt preserves some eligibility for him and could get him a spot in the Penn State lineup in the future. 

Hall and Brooks are certainly the least surprising names on this list, though Hall would certainly be much more likely to take an Olympic redshirt at this point than Brooks. Both have had significant accomplishments in freestyle, but Hall's more advanced in his career and likely has a better chance at making an Olympic team than Brooks. Even still, I would not predict Hall to take an Olympic redshirt right now. 

Berge and Verkleeren do not seem like strong candidates to take Olympic redshirts, since they are probably not that close to making an Olympic team at this time. 

So, now that we have gotten that out of the way, let's take a look at a projected lineup if Hall does not take an Olympic redshirt:

Penn State Lineup With Mark Hall
Weight Wrestler
125 pounds Brody Teske (RS-Fr.)
133 pounds Roman Bravo-Young (So.)
141 pounds Nick Lee (Jr.)
149 pounds Jarod Verkleeren (RS-So.)
157 pounds Brady Berge (RS-So.)
165 pounds Vincenzo Joseph (RS-Sr.)
174 pounds Mark Hall (Sr.)
184 pounds Shakur Rasheed (Gr-Sr.) or Aaron Brooks (Fr.)
197 pounds Kyle Conel (Gr-Sr.) or Michael Beard (Fr.)
285 pounds Anthony Cassar (Gr-Sr.) or Seth Nevills (Fr.)

This lineup looks pretty solid from top to bottom, but it is pretty clear that the bonus point potential may not be the same as it had been for the last few seasons for the Nittany Lions. Brody Teske is expected to come in as the 125-pound starter next season to replace Devin Schnupp. Roman Bravo-Young and Nick Lee hold down their spots until there's evidence anyone is moving up. Berge moves up to 157, and his backup Verkleeren takes the 149 pound spot. 

Vincenzo Joseph and Hall hold their spots, as expected since no one is unseating them. From 184-285 pounds is where Penn State's lineup has the most uncertainty. Shakur Rasheed, transfer Kyle Conel (Kent State) and Anthony Cassar are all able to apply for medical redshirts, but it's unclear if either Rasheed or Cassar will seek to wrestle next season. Conel announced he is transferring to Penn State and intends to wrestle for Sanderson upon the granting of a medical redshirt. 

Brooks and Beard offer a ton of potential for Penn State. Beard went 12-0 against collegiate competition in his greyshirt year, including 11 wins by bonus points. Brooks went 6-1 with wins over two NCAA qualifiers in Ben Harvey (Army) and Tate Samuelson (Wyoming), with his only loss coming to 184-pound qualifier Ryan Christensen (Wisconsin). Brooks is also very accomplished in freestyle, and looks set to be a contender for another junior world team spot this season. 

Seth Nevills seems ready to take over for Cassar if the heavyweight champ decides to leave. Nevills just went 16-1 in his greyshirt season, which includes a win over two-time All-American and 3rd place Big Ten finisher Youssif Hemida (Maryland). Nevills may not be a national title contender year one, but he looks well positioned to be a very successful collegiate wrestler. Nevills' only loss was in sudden victory to No. 8 seed Demetrious Thomas (Pittsburgh). 

Now, let's look at a Penn State lineup without Mark Hall: 

Penn State Without Mark Hall
Weight Wrestler
125 pounds Brody Teske (RS-Fr.)
133 pounds Roman Bravo-Young (So.)
141 pounds Nick Lee (Jr.)
149 pounds Jarod Verkleeren (RS-So.)
157 pounds Brady Berge (RS-So.)
165 pounds Vincenzo Joseph (RS-Sr.), Joe Lee (Fr.), or Mason Manville (RS-So.)
174 pounds Vincenzo Joseph (RS-Sr.), Aaron Brooks (Fr.) or Carter Starocci (Fr.)
184 pounds Shakur Rasheed (Gr-Sr.) or Aaron Brooks (Fr.)
197 pounds Kyle Conel (Gr-Sr.) or Michael Beard (Fr.)
285 pounds Anthony Cassar (Gr-Sr.) or Seth Nevills (Fr.)

The lineup is unchanged from 125 pounds through 165 pounds for obvious reasons, Hall's Olympic redshirt likely would not impact them. The only way it could impact them is if Vincenzo Joseph would decide to move up to 174 pounds, which I am going to put in this chart only as a possibility. That could see a Joe Lee possibly sliding in here. Lee is the younger brother of Nick Lee, and had a very successful high school career in Indiana.

This would be the youngest potential lineup Penn State could put out, and also includes another talented freshman in Carter Starocci. Starocci is the No. 14 recruit in the country per FloWrestling's senior big board. He finished his career 160-10 in Pennsylvania with two state titles and a runner up as a sophomore. Starocci seems likely to start at 174 in college, with a possibility to move up to 184 pounds later in his career. 


Penn State has an embarrassment of riches in terms of talent, but their lineup next season is likely going to be very young. Expect some potential growing pains, but if there's one thing you cannot do, it's count out Cael Sanderson's team from being at their best in March. Do you think any Penn State wrestlers will claim an Olympic redshirt for next season? Let us know in the comments! 

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