Blue White Illustrated

January 2022

Penn State Sports Magazine

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 41 of 67

4 2 J A N U A R Y 2 0 2 2 W W W . B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M W hile committee meetings consisting of coaches and NCAA officials can take months or even years to affect change within a particular sport, the imple- mentation of the transfer portal brought sweeping changes almost instanta- neously to every sport. College wrestlers were quick to take advantage, and former Cornell two- time All-American Max Dean — now a junior 197-pounder at Penn State — figured, why not? Dean placed eighth at the NCAA Tournament as a freshman in 2018 and second as a sophomore the following year, winning 57 of 69 matches during his time with the Big Red. After red- shirting in 2019-20 — and with Cornell having opted to cancel all sports be- cause of COVID-19 in 2020-21 — Dean decided to use his final two years of eli- gibility at Penn State. At age 24, he's a bit older than most of his new teammates, but that hasn't fazed him. "I think it's little more normal across the college wrestling landscape now just with everything that's happened in the world … it's a little bizarre," said Dean, who won two state champion- ships at Lowell (Mich.) High. "Maybe I'm a little old, but I feel young, and I think part of that is just being in the environment where you're learning so much and you're around really great people and it's lighthearted. I wish I had more years, but two seems to be the number that I'm probably going to have left." That's fine with Penn State coach Cael Sanderson, who has said that ev- ery program "probably" checks the transfer portal every day. Sanderson said he got a text from Gabe Dean, Max's brother and a two-time NCAA champion at Cornell. "The rest is history," Sanderson said. "And I would say Max is just a really, really good dude and works really hard, brings a lot to the table, a lot to the team." Sanderson also welcomed senior Jake Campbell (125) from Bucknell and junior Tony Negron (157) from North Carolina State through the transfer portal. Both have had spot starts this season. While the portal can enhance a roster, it's not devoid of issues. Depending on his major, a wrestler who's further along in his academic career might discover that individual college programs within a university — even one that's as large as Penn State — might not accept as many credits as he would like. "We saw an example of that this sum- mer where we had a kid who wanted to come to Penn State and couldn't get into school here, and so it wasn't really an option for him. ... That happens," Sanderson said. "Max has two years left. They don't redshirt at Cornell, and he's a very good student. So, because of that, he was able to transfer in and he'll have two years. "But the further you are along in your career, the harder it is to transfer into Penn State. If you're a grad student, that's probably the easiest because there are lot more options. Transferring as a grad student is much different than as an undergrad." A k e y g r a d u a t e t r a n s f e r — 125-pounder Drew Hildebrandt, who finished fourth at NCAAs last season while competing for Central Michigan — was officially added to the Nittany Lions' roster in late December. He is eli- gible to compete right away. But while Hildebrandt's graduate status may well have made a transfer easier, Sanderson said he's hopeful that credit-transfer policies will be updated to help in other instances. "If Beethoven's son wants to trans- fer to your music department, but he doesn't have enough credits, you're probably going to figure out how to get Beethoven's son, right?" Sanderson said. "I think it has to be consistent through all departments. It's not just an athletics thing. "Or for Einstein's nephew, you're go- ing to figure out how to get him in your science department because he's go- ing to bring a lot of value. I think that's something that Penn State needs to fig- ure out and catch up on. That's just the way it is now." Sanderson said it does him and his Dean was a two-time All-American at Cornell before opting to spend the last two years of his college career at Penn State. PHOTO BY STEVE MANUEL NEW AND IMPROVED Transfers such as 197-pounder Max Dean are bolstering an already-formidable Nittany Lion lineup. But as useful as it can be, the portal is also a gateway to unfamiliar territory in college athletics. J I M CA R L S O N | B L U E W H I T E C O N T R I BU TO R WRESTLING

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue White Illustrated - January 2022