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A.J. Schopp

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Dardanes better hope he doesn't pick top on him. Let's say Dardanes is up 2-1 going into the second, his only prayer is to go neutral and go scoreless and have Schopp go down. If he goes under him he is done, average on bottom, mediocre on top but just a beast on his feet and big for the weight. I like Dardanes style a lot but his lack of mat wrestling will be the difference in him winning a title or not even making the awards stand like last year.

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Dardanes better hope he doesn't pick top on him. Let's say Dardanes is up 2-1 going into the second, his only prayer is to go neutral and go scoreless and have Schopp go down. If he goes under him he is done, average on bottom, mediocre on top but just a beast on his feet and big for the weight. I like Dardanes style a lot but his lack of mat wrestling will be the difference in him winning a title or not even making the awards stand like last year.

Que up the Dake/Molinaro "I choose down" cartoon.

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This is a topic I have a lot of interest in.  I often pick against a wrestler that is one dimensional, especially when that dimension is the top position.  Simmons, Colon, Nevinger and, one of my favorites, Brandon Mason(with a slew of many others) all had great careers but inevitably lost out at Nationals when opponents managed to exploit them on their feet and avoid their strength on top.  With that said, they all had big name opponents with significant talent in neutral.

 

I am not sure Schopp has anyone in his weight class good enough to exploit his weakness.  Simmons had Dubuque, Nickerson, Scott and Hazewinkle.  Colon had Graff(who learned what to do at the most critical time).  Nevinger and Mason weren't quite as good as the 2 just mentioned and each were game planned accordingly.  Who is there at 133 this season who can get a lead on Schopp and be able to snail-up if forced to on bottom?  Dardanes?  Maybe a reinvigorated Gulibon?  No one really comes to mind as a Dynamo on their feet.

 

I normally wouldn't pick Schopp to win it, but I just don't see anyone good enough to make me feel comfortable picking against him.  If Schopp and Dardanes end up in the finals I will be cheering for Dardanes, but his weakness cries out to all when he is on bottom and other than Stieber, Schopp is the last DI guy you want to have working on such a weakness!

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Schopp is also good from his feet. His go-to TDs are a great low single to either side (usually finishes through the back door) and a slide-by/arm drag series. He also has very solid TD defense. He is hardly one-dimensional a Nevinger or even arguably Simmons.

 

I also wouldn't call Colon one-dimensional. He was brutal on the mat as well as from the feet. His problem was being somewhat predictable from neutral, but he wasn't just good on top.

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I guess it's a matter of opinion.  Schopp's strength(riding), as well as the others I listed, is CONSIDERABLY above their neutral or even bottom wrestling.  Over the years I watched several wrestlers play the takedown game with Schopp.  If you doubt me go back and watch some of his losses.  I don't mean to say he is a pud in neutral.  I was simply pointing out that position is not what makes him or the wrestlers I listed elite.  Elite wrestlers in the neutral position seem to exploit this style come the Big Dance.  My point in this topic, is that I don't see an elite neutral wrestler currently at 133 to challenge Schopp.

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Schopp is best on top, but it is wrong to say he is not "elite" from the feet. How many times has he been taken down this season? He has wrestled in three All-Stars against two guys who specialize on TDs (Chris Dardanes and Mason Beckman) and beat them both without getting taken down (he split with Beckman, losing one, winning one). Ramos, an NCAA champ, squeaked by him at NCAAs in a very close match after losing to him in the regular season, when he took Ramos down without giving up a TD himself.

 

Schopp has improved a lot from the feet in the last two years. He is just so good on top that people don't notice as much.

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Ryan Taylor took him down quite easily yesterday and then got pounded on bottom.  Again, I am not trying to say Schopp is a bum on his feet.  However, he is not Graff, Oliver or Stieber(just naming a few recent 133's) on his feet.  To me they were "elite" in neutral.  He has improved in neutral and has become quite serviceable.  However, if the match were strictly takedowns do you honestly think he keeps the match close with the guys I just listed?

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Ryan Taylor took him down quite easily yesterday and then got pounded on bottom.  Again, I am not trying to say Schopp is a bum on his feet.  However, he is not Graff, Oliver or Stieber(just naming a few recent 133's) on his feet.  To me they were "elite" in neutral.  He has improved in neutral and has become quite serviceable.  However, if the match were strictly takedowns do you honestly think he keeps the match close with the guys I just listed?

 

If you define "elite" by those standards, then very few college wrestlers are elite, and no, Schopp is not one of them. But I think most people would define high AA level talent as elite, if not AA talent altogether. Frankly, I don't think Schopp's top game is as "elite" as Stieber or Oliver are with TDs either. That's a ridiculously high bar, with Graff, who seems out of place on that very select list, probably excepted.

 

If I remember correctly, Ryan Taylor took Schopp down off a very slick slideby that very well could've worked on "elite" kids too. He hit it very hard seconds after the match started, allowing for no reaction time. It happens. Jackson Morse and Conrad Polz (both from Illinois and neither even remotely elite) have taken David Taylor down.

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Graff was ABSOLUTELY elite on his feet.  He just didn't have the mat wrestling necessary to win it all.  He did take 5th, 5th, 3rd and 2nd.  In fact, I would say he was "one dimensional" as well.

 

I don't want to stray off topic.  In the end, my whole point is that I think Schopp wins it all.  I don't think there is a wrestler at 133 good enough on their feet to negate the advantage Schopp has on the mat.  There DEFINITELY isn't a wrestler at 133 good enough on the mat to do so.

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Graff was pretty good on top, though he went away from it a bit later in his career.  Bottom not so much...

 

Schopp is going to be tough to beat, especially since he'll always take top against elite competition.  You will always have to go under him.  He's way better in neutral than he was two years ago as well. 

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