Cleveland's Austin Stevison was one of five wrestlers expected to sign scholarship papers Wednesday with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
"For the most part it was the Mocs all the way. They have a great program and a lot of great kids in the program and great coaches that focus on the mental part of the sport," Stevison said.
The only papers UTC had received late Wednesday afternoon were those of Kamaal Shakur from Parkview, Ga., but they also have commitments and expecting signatures from Jacob Murphy from Marietta, Ga. Walton, Tyler Haskin from Pope High in Marietta, Ga., and Connor Tolley from Franklin, Ind. Like Stevison, Haskin is likely to compete at 133 or 141 pounds while Shakur is penciled in as a 149-pounder. Walton was a Georgia state champion last year at 138. Tolley is a heavyweight.
Mocs coach Heath Eslinger cannot comment on commitments until their signed scholarship papers have been received by the university.
"We're excited about the future and Kamaal is a great way to start this recruiting class," Eslinger said. "He has every tool necessary -- physically, emotionally and mentally to be a national champion at this university."
Pope was 50-7 with 24 pins last year as a 126-pounder. Shakur won the USA Wrestling preseason nationals a couple of weeks ago. Tolley, a freestyle and Greco-Roman All-American, finished fourth in the Indiana state tournament last year at 220 pounds.
Stevison is going to compete at 132 pounds for the Blue Raiders this year. He wrestled 103 as a freshman, 113 as a sophomore and 120 last year. He is a three-time state medalist, winning a title in 2011.
"I could go 126 but wrestling at 132 makes us a better team, and I don't cut as much weight so I'm not complaining," he said.
"You know you're going to get 100 percent from Austin on every run, every lift and every competition," said Cleveland coach Jake Yost, a former multi-year NCAA tournament qualifier during his days as a UTC wrestler. "For Austin to be super successful in college, he has to improve. If he wants to do that, he's enough of a competitor that he'll figure out a way to get it done."
Yost was pleased that Stevison turned down others to go to UTC.
"I always tell our guys they need to go where they find the best fit, but I know the coaching staff at UTC is going to care about them on and off the mat in a way that produces really good people," he said.
Contact Ward Gossett at email@example.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.
Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...