Sun Devil Wrestling Inks Three Standouts During Early Signing Period

Nov. 19, 2004

TEMPE, Ariz. - A trio of prep standouts have signed National Letters of Intent to compete for the Arizona State University wrestling program, Head Coach Thom Ortiz announced Friday. Matt Lopez (Tucson, Ariz.), Jake Cranford (Clackamas, Ore.) and Jason Robbins (Oviedo, Fla.), all of which committed to the program during the NCAA's early signing period, are entering their senior seasons at their respective high schools and will join the Sun Devils in time to compete during the 2005-06 season.

'The entire coaching staff is delighted to be able to bring in three solid competitors,' Ortiz said. 'We believe they will make a huge impact on the program at Arizona State. We have a new attitude of wanting to succeed and improve the program and our facilities and I know all three are excited to come here and be a part of this. They will certainly help us achieve our goals of winning the Pac-10 Conference and staying atop the national standings.'

Combined, the three signees hold a record of 318-19 with six state championships and numerous national freestyle and Greco-Roman titles and All-America honors in both the Cadet (ages 15-16) and Junior (age 17-18) age groups. All three also are ranked among the Top 100 in the nation by the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) and Intermat with Robbins sitting 29th out of all high school wrestlers, regardless of weight class. Lopez is ranked 38th and Cranford 82nd. All three are ranked among the Top 10 in their respective weight classes with Robbins being No. 2 at 140-pounds, Lopez is seventh at 152-pounds and Cranford sits ninth at 189-pounds.

Lopez, who is projected to compete at either 149 or 157 for the Sun Devils, currently competes at Sunnyside High School in Tucson, Ariz., the same high school that produced Sun Devil coaches Ortiz and Eric Larkin. He has compiled a prep record of 131-4 and has claimed three state championship titles. On the national scene, Lopez won a national title in Greco-Roman at the Cadet level and also attained All-America honors in both Junior and Cadet freestyle.

'Matt is a very hard-nosed wrestler and reminds me of (ASU NCAA Champion) Eddie Urbano, another Tucson wrestler that won a national title here,' Ortiz said. 'He has a lot of heart and later this year, he could become Sunnyside's first four-time state champion. He told us he is looking forward to training with Eric Larkin and his goal is to surpass the achievements Larkin accumulated while competing here. That is saying a lot and we believe he is the type of competitor that will work hard and battle to reach the goals he sets.'

Robbins, projected to compete at 141 for the Sun Devils, currently competes for Oviedo High School in Oviedo, Fla., and is a three-time Florida state champion with a perfect record of 154-0. Last year, he was a Brute/adidas national champion and has earned numerous All-America honors. As a sophomore in 2003, Robbins placed fourth at the FILA Junior Greco-Roman meet and third in freestyle while also winning the Cadet Greco-Roman title and being selected as the Outstanding Wrestler of the meet. In 2002, he went 8-0 at the World FILA Cadet Freestyle Champions en route to a world title before winning a high school national title and All-America status in both Cadet freestyle and Greco-Roman.

'Robbins has been wrestling since he was five years old and that is about how long I have known him and his family. His goal is to be a starter for us next year. He is used to winning and will settle for no less when he comes to ASU. He turned down full rides (scholarships) at other schools so he could come here and be a part of our efforts to return our program to national prominence.'

Cranford, slated to compete at either 184 or 197 for ASU, is a senior at Clackamas High School in Clackamas, Ore., and has built a 96-15 record over the course of his three year prep career. A two-time state placer, including runner-up last year, he recently won a Junior National Greco-Roman championship.

'He came on the radar after winning a Greco-Roman national title last year. He has a lot of upside and is a big guy that also plays middle linebacker and loves to get in there and compete. That works great for wrestlers. Cranford also has a lot of heart and will have a very bright future here with ASU. We believe he will be a great addition to our program as his skills will improve by training with Aaron Simpson, Ryan Bader and C.B. Dollaway.'

As for the current Sun Devils, the 2004-05 season opens Saturday with the team sending 15 of its wrestlers to Fullerton, Calif., for the Fullerton Open, hosted by Cal State Fullerton. The meet, which opens at 9 a.m., will be an individual competition with no team scores being recorded.