There were two schools that ranked at the top of his list as Sam Brooks packed his bags last weekend for his fifth and final official visit.
Minnesota and Illinois.
But two days around the Iowa wrestling program pushed the Hawkeyes over the top in the recruiting race for one of the most-coveted upper-weights in the country.
Brooks verbally committed Monday night to Iowa, picking the Hawkeyes over Minnesota, Illinois, Oklahoma and Missouri.
“After that visit, it was pretty clear,” an Illinois state champion with a 106-19 career record at Oak Park River Forest High School. “I love the way all the kids approach wrestling. They do everything in life toward being a better wrestler, which is awesome. I love how many fans there are of Iowa wrestling and I love the coaches.”
Brooks fills a big need for the Hawkeyes. The No. 20 overall prospect in InterMat’s Class of 2012 rankings projects as a 184- or 197-pounder in college. Grant Gambrall, an All-American at 184, is a junior, and there’s no proven, long-term solution on the Iowa roster at 197.
Brooks placed third this summer in Greco-Roman and fourth in freestyle at the Junior Nationals at 189 pounds.
Brooks is the third wrestler to commit to Iowa’s 2012 recruiting class, joining Southeast Polk’s Cory Clark and Davenport Assumption’s Topher Carton. All three took official visits to Iowa this past weekend. Brooks said he was stunned by the number of fans who crammed into the Iowa practice room to watch Saturday morning’s workout.
“I want to wrestle in Carver-Hawkeye Arena in front of all those fans, and I feel like that’s where I have the best shot of being the best wrestler,” he said. “I love the way Iowa guys wrestle. That’s how I want to wrestle.”