Nation's top recruit Taylor Massa committs to Wolverines
10/4 - Over the past couple years Michigan’s top recruits have made
relatively early college decisions. Typically by the end of August or
early September, we are hearing commitments from the top prospect
in our state. Therefore, this year with Taylor Massa, who is not only
the top rated grappler in Michigan, but the #1 ranked prep wrestling
recruit in the country, everyone has been highly anticipating his
decision as we enter the month of October.
Yesterday, in front of a group of news outlets and school staff at St
Johns High School, Massa finally released the news that everyone
has waiting to hear as he announced his intentions to be a Wolverine
for the University of Michigan, who recently added two big name
assistant coaches in Sean Bormet and Donny Pritzlaff, both of
whom are about the same size as Massa.
“I really want to go to the Olympics someday and I feel that I can do
that at Michigan,” said Massa, “The coaching staff and training
situation has a huge impact on my decision, you can’t really argue
with workout partners and great environment I will have their. Plus I
want to go to Medical School and still train after my college career
and that will work out perfect.”
Massa has been a mainstay on the national scene since the fall of his 8th grade year when he stormed through the Super 32 135lb weight class and finished 3rd over countless State Champions and college bound seniors. Since then all he has done is win the biggest tournaments he can find and he has been the #1 ranked pound-for-pound wrestler in his class by InterMat since his freshman season. So why did it take so long for this mega-recruit to make a commitment?
“It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make because I am so close
with the Michigan State guys and me and Chris (Williams-MSU Assistant Coach) go
back a long time,” said Massa, who grew up just 21 miles from East Lansing and
attended nearly every Spartan home meet. “He (Williams) has done so much for me
and I grew up idolizing him so it made this decision really hard.”
The huge success that Massa had early on has put him in a rare situation of nearly
always being the favorite to win, even at the toughest tournaments in the country. As
a freshman and sophomore wrestling at upperclassmen weight classes, he was
expected to win and he did so, in dominant fashion without a single hiccup along the
way, leading to his current prep record of 179-0.
“High School season gets a little boring at times but I try to keep my same focus of
one match at a time. I hate seeing people wrestle not to lose, I have learned that you
cannot worry about how close the score is or giving up a takedown or what other
people may think. I try to just put that stuff aside and focus on what I have to do,” said Massa.
Masssa’s future goals are even higher than his past accomplishments. When asked, he mentions winning 4 NCAA National Titles and winning Olympic Medals as his major goals.
Last summer Massa made the FILA Junior World Team and competed at the World Championships, where he lost first round and failed to place. It was the first time in a long time that he was out that early in a tournament, and as he says, it was a great learning experience.
“I learned that you have to learn to adapt to not being able to follow your normal rituals and routine. It was a great learning experience even though I didn’t really wrestle as well as I would of liked. It showed me that I still have a lot to work on and it really fired me up about wrestling in the Olympics. Before this summer I wasn’t 100% sure if I wanted to make a run for the Olympics after college or be done, but wrestling overseas and seeing how corrupt things can get really lit my fire.”
Dealing with pressure and dealing with adversity is something that this
young man has had to learn early. Although he is going to be a Wolverine
next year, it was a former MSU Spartan who helped him with his mental
“One thing Franklin (Gomez) told me was, ‘wrestling is not my God’,” said
Massa. “I am not as religious as he is, but I think that although wrestling is
a huge part of my life, it is not my life. If I lose I deal with it and move on.
Life moves on. Learning to think that way has really helped me deal with
pressure and losses.”
The future looks bright for this kid; however, he is not done yet. He still has
one more season left at St Johns High School, where the Red Wing team
may be almost as dominant as Massa this year. The Massa effect on St
Johns has been amazing as the team that was relatively unknown across
the state 6 years ago is now a national powerhouse.
“I really didn’t think we (St Johns) would ever be this good. I knew we would have studs but I always thought we would have big holes that would be hard to fill but like my dad always says – when you are surrounded by great wrestlers you’re bound to get a lot better,” said Massa, “A perfect example of this is the Bender brothers who went from being below .500 their freshman year to being state qualifiers as juniors last year and potential placers this year. Guys like that have taken us to the next level as a team.”
St. Johns looks to win their third team state title this year, however, according to Massa and many others this could be there best team yet with the addition of strong freshman class that includes his younger brother, Logan.
“It’s cool that me and my brother will get to be on a team together. Ever since I was in middle school we have talked about this year being our year and this whole town is ready for wrestling season to begin.”
The whole town of St. Johns is ready for this season to begin, but the whole country is ready for Taylor Massa’s college career to begin. He leaves as one of, if not the most highly touted prep wrestlers that the great state of Michigan has ever seen and only time will tell what he can do as a collegiate and international wrestler, but the future definitely looks bright and we will all have the pleasure of watching it unfold nearby in Ann Arbor.
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