* No graduations
Who’s Coming Back?
*Grades representative of upcoming 2020-21 season
* Senior Taylor Venz (3-year starter, All-American)
* Junior Colton Wolfe
*Recruiting rankings from InterMat
* Freshman Nathan Haas (No. 9 ranked at 182 pounds)
* Freshman Brandyn Van Tassell (2018 high school graduate)
The Huskers have done a masterful job with their roster at 184 pounds. With senior-to-be Taylor Venz starting since his freshman season, this weight class has been on lock. And with the addition of a couple solid recruits, this weight class looks to be on good footing for the post-Venz era. Venz returns for his senior season with a lot of momentum after finishing in third place at the Big Ten Championships and earning the 7-seed going into the NCAA Tournament that never was.
Venz went 20-8 and 9-4 in dual competition as a junior with 12 of his wins coming with bonus points (6 pins, tied for second most on the team). Going into 2020-21, Venz looks to be a leader for the Huskers as a trio of redshirt seniors (also Chad Red Jr. at 141 and Eric Schultz at 197) try to go out on top.
Behind Venz, there’s Junior Colton Wolfe. Wolfe, from my hometown of Columbus, Neb., went 170-2 in high school with 107 career pins. Although, the massive upgrade in competition has kept Wolfe at backup status throughout his career. As a Husker, Wolfe holds a 20-15 career record but is coming off his best year ever with a 13-8 record. Wolfe will again serve as Venz’s backup.
With Venz’s impending graduation after next season, it was important for the Huskers to bring in some young talent. They’re doing just that with two freshmen coming in, although their respective paths to Nebraska have been much different.
First, you have a big time recruit with Nathan Haas from California. The future Husker is ranked as the No. 9 wrestler at 182 in high school and is fresh off his second straight California state title at 182 pounds. Haas also has an impressive national pedigree, as he won the California World Challenge in October and also won titles at the 2019 USA Wrestling Folkstyle Nationals and the 2018 US Cadet Nationals.
Then there’s Brandyn Van Tassell. After graduating high school in 2018, Van Tassell left for his two-year LDS mission and is set to join the Husker program in 2020-21. Along with projected 149-pounder Brock Hardy, Van Tassell is the other 2018 recruit to join the fold this coming fall. The Utah native won back-to-back Class 5A Utah state titles at 182 pounds to end his high school career. This after tearing both his ACL and LCL in his knee as a sophomore.
Both incoming freshmen will be welcome additions to the room, and with Venz holding the starting spot and Wolfe providing a solid backup, Haas and Van Tassell will have the opportunity to redshirt. They’ll get their opportunity to wrestle in a few tournaments while adjusting to college life on and off the mat, then gear up for a presumed open competition to replace Venz after next season.
Venz is the starter. Obviously. Behind him, Wolfe will be the backup. Then the freshmen will redshirt. Pretty easy prediction here.
The big question is who will replace Venz after next season? Nebraska has a long time until it needs to answer that question, but if I had to guess right now I’d say Nathan Haas will start as a redshirt freshman.
Projected Depth Chart
- Taylor Venz (Sr.)
- Colton Wolfe (Jr.)
- Nathan Haas (Fr.) (Redshirting)
- Brandyn Van Tassell (Fr.) (Redshirting)