Penn State wrestling received more good news Tuesday evening as a second member of its top-ranked 2014 recruiting class announced his decision to return for a sixth year.
Former All-American Shakur Rasheed posted on Instagram that he was coming back to Happy Valley for his final year of eligibility. He wrote Tuesday, “Dear Penn State, This kid is coming back for another year of college wrestling.”
This news comes just four days after Rasheed’s teammate and reigning heavyweight national champ Anthony Cassar announced he’ll be back in a blue-and-white singlet for at least another year.
Recruited alongside highly ranked prospects Bo Nickal, Jason Nolf and Nick Nevills, both Rasheed and Cassar had their collegiate careers dampened by injuries. And both sought — and received — medical redshirts from the NCAA.
Rasheed’s extra year of eligibility doesn’t come as a surprise. He redshirted as a rookie in 2014-15 after shoulder surgery, and then missed most of the 2016-17 season with another injury. Last season, he missed nearly half of Penn State’s duals and medically forfeited out of the Big Ten finals after an apparent knee injury during the Wisconsin dual on Jan. 13.
The Long Islander, who’s known for his cross-face cradle and ability to end matches early, had his most successful season in 2017-18, when he was named Outstanding Wrestler for nearly pinning his way through the Southern Scuffle, beat out Cassar for a spot in the postseason at 197 pounds and went on to become an All-American.
Down at 184 pounds this past season and sporting a large knee brace, Rasheed came up short of All-America status.
By accepting the NCAA’s sixth year of eligibility, Rasheed will have now have another shot to contend for a national title. But, first, he’ll have to beat out his own teammates.
The second half of Penn State’s next top-ranked recruiting class — 2018 — is expected to enroll this year, after a year off to “grayshirt.” Counted in that class is Cadet World champ and Junior silver medalist Aaron Brooks — who projects at 174 or 184 pounds — and Michael Beard, one of FloWrestling’s top pound-for-pound wrestlers in his class, who is projected at 197. Both Brooks and Beard will still have redshirt eligibility.
Graduate transfer Kyle Conel, a 2018 All-American with Kent State, is also looking for a sixth year and chance to wrestle at 197 for the Nittany Lions this coming season.
A little bit of lineup competition, however, is nothing new for Rasheed, who battled for two years with Geno Morelli at 165 and 174 pounds, before bumping up to 197 to battle it out with Cassar.
However it shakes out, it appears the Nittany Lions will have plenty of options for the future.