Eye on the Illini

Coach Heffenan and staff signed two top-five national recruits and the Illinois state champion in their 2013-14 signing class.
Coach Heffenan and staff signed two top-five national recruits and the Illinois state champion in their 2013-14 signing class.

Nov. 20, 2012

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- University of Illinois head coach Jim Heffernan announced the signing of three student-athletes, including two top-five national recruits, to National Letters of Intent on Tuesday. Brooks Black of Blair Academy, N.J., Isaiah Martinez of Lemoore, Calif., and Kyle Langenderfer of Mokena, Ill., will join the Illini program in the fall of 2013. Martinez is the No. 3 overall recruit in the class of 2013 according to The Open Mat, Black is No. 5 and Langenderfer is an Illinois state champion.

"The three guys we signed will have a huge impact on our program in the near future," Heffernan said. "Both Brooks and Isaiah are proven on the national scene and have the ability to be very special. Kyle is extremely athletic and super competitive. Associate head coach Mark Perry and assistant coach Jeremy Hunter worked extremely hard in signing two of the top five overall recruits in the country and that is a big deal for Illinois Wrestling. All have desire, drive, mentality and ability to help us compete for championships down the road. Adding this class to an already young and energetic group is really exciting for our program."

Black, is a three-time Fila Cadet National Champion, two-time Walsh Ironman Champion, and a two-time Beast of the East Champion. He was also a NHSCA National Champion and was a two-time New Jersey state champion. He is the No. 5 overall recruit nationally and will wrestle heavyweight at Illinois.

"I fell in love with Illinois," Black said. "The team is great and the coaches are awesome. The expectations are to win multiple NCAA titles".

"It has been a pleasure to coach Brooks Black," former Blair Academy head coach said. "He has significant growth as an athlete as he is extremely committed to the sport. He trains hard as he is passionate to be the best he can be. He has a tremendous desire to do well as he is an accomplished wrestler and has a burning desire to excel this year as well as in college. He is excited about his opportunity to study and train at Illinois and feels comfortable with the coaches."

Martinez, from Lemoore High School, was the 2012 Junior Freestyle National Champion as well as the Flowrestling National Champion. This year, he was also crowned the Super 32 Champion. The No. 3 recruit in the country was a two-time state champion and was a three-time state placewinner. The Lemoore, Calif., native will wrestle 157 or 165 for the Illini next season.

"I want to win an NCAA championship all four years," Martinez said. "I look forward to being in a room where everyone wants to win a national title. Not only individually but also as a team. I also look forward to being around people who dedicate their whole lives to the sport like I do. I want to help the team win national titles."

"Isaiah Martinez is not only an awesome wrestler, but he is a great leader," Lemoore high school head coach Marcio Botelho said. "He is a positive role model for wrestlers of all ages. Isaiah exhibits the heart and work ethic of a champion. I know without a doubt he will continue to win championships along his journey."

Langenderfer will also join the squad, as he was the 2011 Illinois state champion. He also placed second and sixth in the state championships. The Mokena, Ill., native's current high school career record is 122-14.

"I'm really excited about singing with Illinois," Langenderfer said. "I can't wait to start my wrestling career at this great university."

"Kyle will be a great addition to the Illini wrestling team," Lincoln Way East high school coach Tyrone Byrd said. "It has been an honor and joy to coach him the past four years and I look forward to watching him develop the next few years under the guidance of coach Heffernan. It is always exciting to send one of your wrestlers to a Division I Big Ten school, but even more special when it's your alma mater."

"Our staff is very excited about what we have been able to accomplish in the last 18 months of recruiting," Perry said. "We have signed nine of the top 100 recruits and five of the top 12 overall recruits in the past two recruiting seasons. With all of these young talented kids on the team, there is no doubt we will be a force to reckon with for years to come. Our expectations are to win individual and NCAA titles. With the core group that we have put together and the standard that each individual holds themselves to, we are going to be hard to beat in the future."

2013-14 Incoming Wrestlers

Brooks Black, HWT
Isaiah Martinez, 157/165
Kyle Langenderfer, 141/149