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Penn State Wrestling: Nevills is the Complete Package

by and on August 14, 2014 6:45 AM

Recruiting for any college sport is usually a one-way pursuit.

A coach identifies a talented athlete and then tries to convince the athlete that his university is where that athlete belongs.

That applies to Cael Sanderson, too, most of the time. There are rare exceptions. That's the case with heavyweight Nick Nevills.

"When we were recruiting he was actually pursuing us. We'd already had a heavyweight committed. That's when we reevaluated what we were doing," Sanderson says.

"He's a kid who wants to be where it's going to be the best. I think it was us or Ohio State, so he was leaving California and coming east. He wanted to come to where he thought was best. The regional training center was a big part of him trying to decide where he wanted to go. I'm not too worried about him being away from home. I think he wants to go where he's going to be the best wrestler and be able to do well academically. We believe that's Penn State."

Until last summer, most thought the Nittany Lions' heavyweight of the future was four-time PIAA champion Thomas Haines of Solanco.

However, as Sanderson vaguely mentioned, and multiple media reports confirmed through the Haines family, Penn State rescinded its scholarship offer to Haines and extended it to Nevills.

A three-time California state champion and four-time medalist from Clovis High School in Clovis, Calif., Nevills brings a sparkling resume to Happy Valley.

He capped his senior season with a 50-0 record, with 46 pins. His career mark was 200-5 with a state-record 146 pins. He helped lead his team to four straight state championships. He's the only heavyweight in California history to win three titles.

Nevills also was named California's High School Excellence Award winner by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, and was selected to the national "Dream Team" of top high school wrestlers by USA Wrestling Magazine.

And he's not just the nation's No. 1 recruit at heavyweight.

He was named the B'nai B'rith Student-Athlete Award recipient for the Fresno area with a 3.58 grade point average.

"I really like his attitude above all. He's very confident. He enjoys competing. He wrestles. He's really tough on top. He attacks the legs really well. He changes levels really well, which you don't see a lot at heavyweight. Those things are big," Sanderson says.

"He's a guy who's going to be able to come in here and get bigger and grow and mature and train with Lawson and Gingrich and Ruggear, who will all be fifth-year seniors, plus our guys in the freestyle club. He'll be ready to roll."

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This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.

Andly Elder covers Penn State wresting for The Centre County Gazette.
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