When it comes to the class of 2020, you will be hard pressed to find a bigger name in wrestling than AJ Ferrari, He is being recruited by every program in the county Including: Penn State, Ohio State, Rutgers, Oklahoma State, and Nebraska among them. He has already taken a visit to Rutgers, and this weekend he was in town for Final X. He plans to visit Ohio State, Oklahoma State, and Penn State, while also taking a unofficial visit to Oklahoma before he makes his decision. He wants to commit in September so it will be a lot to take in before he makes his announcement. He is currently the number one pound-for-pound wrestler in the country by FloWrestling. He started wrestling when he was four years old and won his first national championship by the age of 12.

Last summer he put he displayed his ability to be a world caliber wrestler by taking bronze at the 2018 Cadet World Championships for Team USA. 

Sam Janicki Photo

When asked about his biggest influences he said it was his family. Starting with his dad, when he was young, his dad started him out in jiu jitsu, but he did not like it because it was to defensive so he went to wrestling. His dad has been there every step of the way to push him. He made him a better wrestler and when he was down he was always there to pick him up. He drove him to all the tournaments. His family has always been his biggest support system, always being there for him and leading him in the right direction. His family has always helped him with discipline and not being lazy. His dad always told him talent is not a gift it is a responsibility. If you’re lazy it will come back to get you. Always be disciplined in everything you do.

As far as his trip to Lincoln, It could not have gone better for him. It really opened his eyes and he had a blast. Coach Manning took him on a tour of the campus from Memorial Stadium to the Hendrix Performance Lab and everything in between. Ferrari was really intrigued by Nebraska’s academic and athletic programs for athletes. He said his favorite part of the campus was the Performance Lab. He loved how advanced Nebraska was with technology in the sports science program. Seeing how they study athletes in the lab and work on explosiveness and injury prevention. Using that data while also videoing workouts to improve strength and conditioning for each individual really intrigued him. He got to meet the head nutritionist and the wrestling strength coach along with Zach Duval. His host was Taylor Venz and he also got to spend a lot of time with Mikey Labriola. He loved those guys and thought everyone got along really well. He said they made him really feel at home. It was very important for him. If he was to choose Nebraska, he would be be ten hours from home and he liked the comfortably. Ferrari got to meet all the coaches and had a really good connection with Coaches Manning, Bryan Snyder, and Kendric Maple.

His favorite thing about the visit was in between Jordan Burroughs and Isaiah Martinez second and third match at Final X he got to be in the room with Coach Manning and Burroughs and see how Manning goes about his business. He loved how straight forward Manning was and getting to see him in action was awesome. One of the biggest things he looks for in a program is one on one time with coaches. He really wanted to spend time with Manning since Nebraska has had the success of Burroughs and James Green. Coach Manning believes he could be the best heavyweight and 97 kg wrestler in the country. He has a lot of frame to build on and with Nebraska’s performance lab he can put the weight on in the right places. It wont effect his explosiveness or athleticism. He currently weights 205 pounds with a lot of room to grow.

Ferrari calls Texas home and comes from a power house program in Allen, Texas. It is a state normally known for football. Ferrari said that when it comes to wrestling though, there is no better program than Allen. They have won 11 straight state championships and are well positioned for a 12th. Allen has many wrestlers ranked in the country and could be a top ten team in the country. In all, He doesn’t let any of that effect him. He works very hard to get the place he is in. He does a lot of extra work outs. He does a lot of plyometrics and box routines. He is continuously working on his craft and working on him self to give him a mental and physical advantage. He likes to do a lot of explosive training because it helps him so much on the mat. Ferrari fully believes whether you win or lose it is on yourself. You cant be lazy and have to be well trained, well conditioned, and well focused. He wants to represent his family, his school, his state, his country and himself. So he is always working hard to be his best self.

Ferrari is very goal oriented. His short term goals are to improve his lifting numbers. He currently dead lifts 600 pounds, deep squats 525 pounds, and benches 315 pounds. He says his lack in bench is due to his wingspan. Ferrari is six foot tall with an 80 inch wing span. He has a vertical over 40 inches and wants to improve on everything. His long term goals is to win at least two national championships and be an Olympic champion in 2024 and 2028. Beyond that he might compete in 2032 or look into the MMA. Next year he said he plans to compete in the Junior, Senior, and U23 championships and he wants to win them all. He want to start 2020 as a world champion.

When it came down to wrestling, Ferrari competes in all three styles. Greco-Roman, freestyle, and folkstyle with freestyle being his favorite. He said freestyle really helps with folkstyle. It helps you at the edge of the mat, it disciplines you to not be lazy. If you’re lazy and go to your back you give up points. If you’re lazy and get pushed out at the edge you give up points. You have to constantly be at the top of your game. When I asked him where he thinks he needs to improve the most before college, he said it was being on top. He is great at neutral, he has a great blast double, sweep single, and he works his lead leg evenly so its hard to defend him because he can attack from either side. When he is on bottom, he has a great advantage with his strength and speed, it’s where his explosiveness comes into effect.

When it comes to the recruiting process it has been a lot for Ferrari. As it should be when you’re one of the top wrestlers in the country. He said you hear a lot from coaches and they all know what you want to hear and they are going to tell you a lot to try and influence you. He said he can figure a lot of that out now and see through it. He really wants a school with a strong academic program. He also wants a strong athletic program. He wants a school with a strong christian background. He also said the process has been fun getting to see different programs. It has been an awesome and humbling experience for him. He feels like he is getting rewarded for all the hard work he has put in to the sport. When most kids are home playing Fortnite, he is at home watching videos on how to be more explosive and learning the nervous system and how it operates.

Ferrari is incredibly talented wrestler. He has a lot a head of him. We would all like to see him end up at Nebraska, but where ever he does end up he will be a great leader and influence on those around him. He is very knowledgeable on the sport and in the weight room. He said he loves working out just as much as wrestling. He had a lot of nice things to say about the Nebraska program. From the coaches, to the facilities, to the city of Lincoln itself. He loved how Lincoln was a pretty good size city but still had a country feel to it.

For fun I asked him, if you had :10 seconds to get a take down what would you do? He said it depended what was there, but he would probably try a blast double into a single leg. He was telling me about last year at cadet worlds, in the bronze medal match he was down 2-1 with :18 seconds left, he kept moving his feet and faked a double and went into a single and got the take down with :02 left to win the bronze medal. He is always looking to improve himself. On and off the mat, everything leads to the same thing. If your lazy in the classroom it will carry of the wrestling room. Always be disciplined in everything you do.


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