Heffernan Signs Three to National Letters of Intent

Jered Cortez, the No. 15 overall recruit, will join the Fighting Illini next fall.
Jered Cortez, the No. 15 overall recruit, will join the Fighting Illini next fall.

Nov. 19, 2013

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- University of Illinois head coach Jim Heffernan announced the signing of three student-athletes to National Letters of Intent on Tuesday. Jered Cortez of Carol Stream, Ill., Brock Ervin of Morganfield, Ky., and Michael Pixley of Blue Springs, Mo., will join the Illini wrestling program in the fall of 2014. All three wrestlers are ranked as five-star recruits according to The Open Mat, and are listed as top-50 recruits for the senior class of 2014.

"We are extremely pleased with the three signings," Heffernan said. "All three fit our needs and have the type of work habits, competitiveness and goals that we are looking for. We are looking forward to having all three join our program and know they will all have a great deal of success with Fighting Illini Wrestling."

Jered Cortez entered the pre-season as the No. 1 recruit in the country at 126 pounds and is currently the No. 15 overall recruit. He is a three-time Illinois state champion, two-time ASICS All-American, four-time Cadet and Junior All-American, two-time FILA Cadet All-American, a Cadet National Champion, and the 2013 Junior National Freestyle Champion at 126 pounds. The Glenbard North High School senior was selected as Illinois' Co-Wrestler of the Year by W.I.N. Magazine in 2013 and will wrestle at 125 pounds at Illinois.

"We have been watching Jered Cortez throughout his high school career and he is exceptionally skilled and talented," Heffernan said. "It is great to be able to keep him home in Illinois, and he will be one of the most successful wrestlers in Illinois history by the end of his senior season."

Brock Ervin, cousin of current Illini Caleb Ervin, is a four-time Kentucky state champion, and looks to become the first five-time champion in the state's history. He is a two-time NWCA National Duals Most Outstanding Wrestler, a National High School Coaches Association Junior National Champion, and was awarded the Forcht Group of Kentucky Uncommon Excellence Award. The Union County High School senior currently holds a 155-2 high school record, and led the Braves to a State Championship title in 2013. He will wrestle at 141 pounds at Illinois.

"Brock Ervin is an exceptional athlete that can do a lot of different things with his wrestling," Heffernan said. "Similar to his cousin, Caleb, he has great work habits and is a very disciplined, coachable kid."

Michael Pixley is currently ranked No. 2 in the nation at 182 pounds and is a 2013 Missouri state champion. He holds a high school record of 94-2 and placed third at the state championships in 2012. The Blue Springs High School senior is a 2013 Junior National Freestyle Champion, 2012 National Cadet Freestyle Champion, 2012 National Cadet Greco-Roman runner-up, and 2012 National High School Coaches Association Folkstyle Nationals Champion. The Granite City, Ill., native will wrestle at 184/197 pounds at Illinois.

"We have been aware of Michael Pixley for a long time, as he attended a couple of our camps as a young kid," said Heffernan. "He is an extremely competitive and hard-nosed guy who will continue to grow and mature into a 197-pounder. Being an Illinois native, it is nice to bring Michael back home for his collegiate career."

2014-15 Incoming Wrestlers
Jered Cortez, Carol Stream, Ill. - 125
Brock Ervin, Morganfield, Ky. - 141
Michael Pixley, Blue Springs, Mo. - 184/197