Now that we’ve gone over the best from Nebraska’s past with our countdown of the greatest Husker wrestlers ever, let’s take a look at the Huskers’ future prospects. This will be a countdown of Nebraska’s wrestlers on the roster with the highest ceilings.
Determining a wrestler’s ceiling can be a difficult proposition, especially when you consider that Nebraska’s wrestlers are at different points in their careers. So different criteria will be used based on what each wrestler has accomplished as well as potential and time left in the program.
For instance, a senior-to-be who’s already secured All-American honors has hit a certain level and maybe has shown more definitively what his ceiling is. On the other hand, an incoming freshman hasn’t accomplished anything at the collegiate level, but their experience and accolades in high school and on the junior circuit can generally give a good indication of how good they can be in college.
This process is a very inexact science, but it’s the offseason and what else do we have to talk about?
Before I unveil the Top 10, I’ll go through five Huskers that just missed the cut.
11. Silas Allred (Freshman)
The Shenadoah High School (Muncie, Ind.) product, Allred was a monster in high school. He went 144-2 in his high school career with 139 of his wins coming by pinfall. Allred was the No. 4-ranked recruit at 195 pounds by InterMat after going 39-0 as a senior with all 39 wins coming by pinfall. He finished his career on a 74-match win streak. Allred will likely redshirt this season behind senior Eric Schultz before taking over the weight class in 2021-22 as a redshirt freshman.
Allred has a real shot at becoming a four-year starter for the Huskers at 197 pounds, and with his high school credentials, he has the potential to be a bonus-point scoring machine for the Huskers. The talented newcomer could potentially grow into an All-American and even a conference champion. Maybe even a national title.
Here’s Allred winning the 2018 Cadet Fargo Folkstyle National Championship at 195 pounds.
12. Bubba Wilson (Redshirt Freshman)
The Manhattan, Kan. native, Wilson won a Kansas state title as a senior while also winning a state title during the freestyle and Greco-Roman season in 2019. As a recruit, FloWrestling had him ranked as the No. 11 wrestler at 152 pounds in the class of 2019.
At Nebraska, Wilson redshirted last season and finished with a 19-1 record in open tournaments, winning the UNK Younes Hospitality Open, the Viking-Warrior Open, the Hastings College Open and the Dave Edmonds Open. He also finished second at the Daktronics Open, dropping his only match in the final to Minnesota’s Baylor Fernandes. Fernandes, a freshman who was also redshirting for Minnesota, beat Wilson via major decision 11-1.
This coming season, it’ll be interesting whether Wilson wrestles at 157 pounds or if he moves up to 165 pounds. Either way, I see Wilson in the starting lineup, and based on his 19-1 record during his redshirt season, Wilson seems to have a lot of upside. Now, the competition in the Big 10 is a major step up, so there will likely be some growing pains. In the end, I see Wilson having upside as a starter with the ability to score some solid team points at conference and nationals.
13. Nathan Haas (Freshman)
Haas was a two-time California state champion at St. John Bosco High School and was the top-ranked 182-pounder in California. He put together a 163-25 record in high school. In 2018, he won a Junior Cadet National Championship in freestyle wrestling while also winning the USAW National Folkstyle Wrestling title and the California World Challenge. Haas will likely redshirt behind senior Taylor Venz and will probably be the favorite to start for the Huskers at 184 pounds in 2021-22 as a redshirt freshman.
As for his ceiling, if Haas does in fact start as a redshirt freshman a season from now, he would likely be a four-year starter and will be a solid contributor. I can see him eventually becoming an All-American and maybe even competing for a conference title.
Here’s Haas winning his second straight state title.
14. Elise Brown Ton (Freshman)
Brown Ton was a two-time Texas state champion, winning in 2019 at 152 pounds before winning the 160-pound weight class in 2020. He went 30-8 as a junior and 46-2 as a senior. Brown Ton won the 170-pound title at the 2019 Reno Tournament of Champions as well as finishing runner-up at the 2018 USA Wrestling Preseason Nationals. He finished fourth at the 2019 Cadet World Team Trials at 71 kg. In addition, Brown Ton won three straight Texas-USA Wrestling State Championship titles in both freestyle and Greco-Roman, winning the Junior Boys 160-pound division after winning Cadet titles in 2017 and 2018.
Nebraska lost senior All-American Isaiah White from last season and hasn’t addressed the weight class other than bringing in Brown Ton. While it’s possible Brown Ton proves to be Nebraska’s best option at the weight, I see it more likely that someone like Peyton Robb or Bubba Wilson move up from 157 pounds to take the weight, allowing Brown Ton to redshirt.
Brown Ton has the potential to win a starting spot at some point in his career and could someday reach All-American levels of production.
15. Alex Thomsen (Redshirt Sophomore)
Alex Thomsen was a highly recruited guy coming out of Underwood High School in Iowa. The four-time Iowa state champ was ranked No. 7 in the country at 126 pounds by FloWrestling in 2018. He wrestled under head coach Joe Stephens, a three-time letterwinner for Nebraska from 1992-95.
During his redshirt season, Thomsen went 13-2. He then moved into the starting lineup at 125 pounds as a redshirt freshman in 2019-20. He struggled against top competition, as he went 0-12 against ranked opponents, finishing with a 13-15 record on the year. At the 2020 Big Ten Championships, Thomsen went 3-3 to finish in sixth place, qualifying for the NCAA Tournament that was canceled due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Going forward, it’ll be interesting what Nebraska does with Thomsen. Despite starting as a redshirt freshman and qualifying for the NCAA tournament, Thomsen will have his work cut out for him going forward. Nebraska added transfer Liam Cronin from Indiana. The senior-to-be has a career 42-31 record and went 17-13 as a junior in 2019-20, including two wins against Thomsen. Cronin beat Thomsen in the regular season dual before falling to Thomsen 17-12 in the first round of the Big Ten Championships. Cronin went on to beat Thomsen by pinfall in the fifth-place match at Big Tens.
It’s also possible for Thomsen to move up to 133 pounds, but Nebraska has a slew of young talent coming in at the lighter weights that will breed much competition but will also possibly make Thomsen the odd man out. Thomsen will certainly be a solid backup at either 125 or 133 pounds, or both. He also has the potential to keep his starting spot, but it’ll take much improvement on his part to beat out Cronin for the job. Then he’d have to beat out highly-touted incoming recruit Jeremiah Reno the following year.