This weekend’s report that Northwestern transfer Chris Cannon is down to Rutgers and Penn State shouldn’t be a shock to anyone that’s paid attention to wrestling over the years.
Penn State has become a destination for elite talent in the transfer portal. That was evident when Drew Hildebrandt came to State College from Central Michigan to fill the 125-pound spot for the second half of the 2021-22 season.
Cannon put together quite a career with the Wildcats, compiling a 67-27 record at 133 pounds for his career with one last year of eligibility coming up next season. He’s a native of Oceanport, N.J., which is roughly 40 minutes from Piscataway, where Rutgers is. So the finalists make sense.
Where it gets interesting is Cannon’s not the only 133-pounder in the Big Ten that’s in the transfer portal. Minnesota’s Aaron Nagao entered the portal shortly after last season ended. Nagao went 23-6 as a redshirt freshman at 133, and finished in fifth place at this year’s NCAA Championships, losing to Penn State stud Roman-Bravo Young.
Minnesota All-American Aaron Nagao has officially entered the transfer portal… He has 3 years of eligibility left! Big one. 🔓 pic.twitter.com/nsgHwcqv9G
— The Wrestling Room (Pat Mineo) (@MrPatMineo) April 6, 2023
Nagao appeared on a Justin Basch’s “Baschamania” podcast earlier this month and confirmed that he could still return to the Golden Gophers, but he also has interest from Penn State, Iowa, and Cornell. Nagao said he should come to a decision by the end of the month.
You’d think that there’s only enough room on the roster for either Cannon or Nagao, so the next question would be, if you were Cael Sanderson and you had your pick, which guy would you rather have on your roster?
If it’s experience that you prefer in replacing one of the all-time greats from PSU in RBY, Cannon may be the guy. Two-time All-Americans don’t just come out of nowhere, and Cannon did it at a place where wrestling isn’t exactly a priority in Northwestern.
If it’s a young and talented wrestler that you desire that still has three years of eligibility left, Nagao might be the guy that you’d want. Nagao held his own against RBY in the Big Ten finals (a 5-2 win for Bravo-Young) and the NCAA quarterfinals (a 5-1 victory for Bravo-Young).
Nagao is already talented as a freshman at Minnesota. How much do you think he would improve if he trained under Sanderson for the next three years at Penn State?
The sky would be the limit.
Assuming that Penn State wrestling and Sanderson gets at least one of either Cannon or Nagao, it could be a case of re-loading once again for Penn State.