Kolby Franklin, a nationally ranked Pennsylvania wrestler, commits to the Iowa Hawkeyes

Cody Goodwin
Hawk Central

The Iowa wrestling program ended the month of October with a huge recruiting victory — from a high-level prospect in Penn State territory.

Kolby Franklin, a senior at Wyoming Seminary, has committed to the Hawkeyes. He chose Iowa over both Penn State and Arizona State and projects at 197 pounds.

"It was the people, the atmosphere in the room, the way people acted, the way my personality matches a lot of the guys on the team," Franklin said. "When I’ve been out there, it just felt right."

Franklin, originally from Dubois, Pennsylvania, is regarded as one of the best big-man prospects in the country. He is considered the No. 37 overall recruit in the 2022 class, according to MatScouts, and is currently ranked fifth in the country at 195 pounds.

His résumé is full of high-level accomplishments. In October, Franklin took third at the Super 32 Challenge, which is considered the toughest high school wrestling tournament in the country. This past summer, he took fourth at the Junior men's freestyle national championships.

As a freshman in 2019, Franklin made the Pennsylvania state finals for Saint Josephs Catholic Academy, then won a 16U men's freestyle national title later that summer. Ahead of his sophomore year, he transferred to Wyoming Seminary, an independent day and boarding school that has one of the best wrestling programs in the country. 

Franklin is now the ninth member of Iowa's 2022 recruiting class, which now includes five top-200 recruits, according to MatScouts' latest 2022 Big Board. In addition to Franklin:

The other four are all in-state wrestlers: Carter and Carson Martinson, from Southeast Polk; Jace Rhodes, from Mason City; and Easton Fleshman, from West Lyon.

But Franklin's commitment is an intriguing one. He grew up just an hour from Penn State, which has been Iowa's chief wrestling adversary since Cael Sanderson took over the program ahead of the 2009-10 season. Even more, he's frequently trained at David Taylor's M2 Training Center, which is based just north of State College.

"I grew up really, really close to Penn State," Franklin said, "and even trained at Penn State and had great relationships with those coaches. It’s kind of crazy to think that I’m going to be at Iowa now."

Much of Iowa's recent success — the Hawkeyes won the 2020 and 2021 Big Ten Championships as well as the 2021 NCAA Championships — has come in large part to Pennsylvania wrestlers, like Spencer Lee, Michael Kemerer, Kaleb Young, Austin DeSanto and Max Murin.

Franklin said the relationships he forged with Iowa's coaching staff and current wrestlers made the difference for him. He was in Iowa City a few weeks back when the Hawkeye football team beat Penn State at Kinnick Stadium, and was back again over the weekend to make his commitment official.

"I just like how much they’re dedicated to their wrestlers and how much they want to help them succeed," Franklin said. "They’re worried about how they can help you reach your full potential and how they can help you reach your goals. I can tell that just by watching them practice and meeting with them.

"It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make, but it’s really simple for me. It’s not some crazy difference between other schools. It just feels right to me, and I know I can achieve my goals there."

Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.