Some pretty accomplished guys are going to graduate in the next couple years and it's crazy to think only two (or one) of them can win the Hodge Trophy.
There are two seniors this season that could graduate as 3-time NCAA champs, Gabe Dean (Cornell) & J'Den Cox (Missouri). Cox only had one loss last season, when he threw his opponent through the Spanish announcers' table. Dean once again has a very tough weight class, which will likely have his record look less impressive than other candidates even if he makes it through undefeated.
The Hodge does have career accolades as a factor. Being a 3-time NCAA champ would make you think this would be a huge nod, but I was surprised when my research turned up an odd tidbit. There were seven 3-time NCAA champs between TJ Jaworsky (the first winner of the Hodge in 1995) and last season's winner, Alex Dieringer. None of those seven between those two won the Hodge. So I guess Dean & Cox not winning it would actually be more traditional (kidding, of course).
On to the Juniors....
Zain Retherford (Penn State) is an early favorite to win this year after a dominant sophomore season. He racks up bonus point wins with ease making him a prime candidate.
Isiah Martinez (Illinois) is two for two in national titles and he is bumping up to 165. It's certainly tough to imagine if he becomes the 5th 4-time champ that a Hodge wouldn't come with it. Let's also keep in mind he has just one loss halfway through his career as well. 165 is tough though so his stats may not rack up like Zain's.
Kyle Snyder (Ohio State) will probably split time between the freestyle circuit and collegiate wrestling. Being a potentially dominant 285 and 3-time NCAA champ will have him sparking a debate on whether or not his "part-time" status should affect the voting and to what degree.
Nathan Tomasello (Ohio State) moves up to 133 this year and has amassed a record of 60-5 so far. With a title as a freshman, he could end up a 3-time champ having his name thrown in as well. His three titles would be impressive with the competition he has beaten for them.
Dean Heil (Oklahoma State) also won an NCAA title as a sophomore. If the Cowboy makes a turn towards more dominance, we could see him added to the discussion as well.
This list baffles me. I don't seem to have the ability to understand that Zain, Imar, and Snyder could walk around without a Hodge. Recent history has shown young guys are stepping in quicker and louder making it very possible there are 2017 & 2018 Hodge contenders not even mentioned here. There will be some heated debates which is good for wrestling.