NC State's athletics department has gotten a lot better across the board since Debbie Yow was hired; the Director's Cup results speak to that, and more specifically, her coaching hires for swimming, softball, women's basketball, and wrestling have paid quick dividends. All of those programs are trending up, but nobody's hotter right now than wrestling head coach Pat Popolizio, who is on the verge of a historic recruiting haul.
NC State picked up three additions to its 2016 wrestling class over the last couple days, and they are all ranked among the top 60 nationally, per FloWrestling. Twin brothers Thomas and Daniel Bullard rank 45th and 50th, respectively, while the latest addition, Kellen Devlin, ranks 57th. That's in addition to Hayden Hidlay, who might be the top prospect in the class.
I asked FloWrestling editor Willie Saylor about where this group ranks, and, well ...
@akulawolf probably #1 right now— Willie Saylor (@WillieAtFLO) July 14, 2015
If that were to hold, I'm gonna assume it would be a first in program history. NC State has a fine wrestling tradition thanks to long-time coach Bob Guzzo, who consistently built teams that won or contended for ACC titles. But those teams never really broke through on the national level to challenge the sport's powers. Popolizio's recruiting could be making such a breakthrough possible.
The Wolfpack is coming off a 17th-place finish at the NCAAs in 2015, and rising senior Nick Gwiazdowski has won back-to-back individual national titles. The team is in good shape with Gwiazdowski leading the way for another season, and with such an impressive 2016 class on the horizon, there's a lot to like about the Wolfpack's potential both within the ACC and on a national scale.