published Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Kamaal Shakur among new UTC wrestlers


Listed alphabetically with projected college weight class, hometown and high school:

Alonzo Allen (125), Conyers Rockdale County, Ga.; Radley Gillis (125), Fort Lauderdale Archbishop McCarthy, Fla.; Tyler Haskin (133/141), Marietta Pope, Ga.; Cody Hill (125), Live Oak, La.; Hunter Manley (141), Lorton South County, Va.; Kamaal Shakur (149), Parkview, Ga.; Austin Stevison (133/141), Cleveland, Tenn.; Connor Talley (285), Franklin, Ind.

Kamaal Shakur, a Wrestling USA Dream Team member, heads the class of 2014 recruits for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling team.

Shakur, a state champion from Parkview High in Lilburn, Ga., is listed as a probable 149-pounder.

"A kid like him only comes around once, maybe twice, in a coach's career," Parkview coach Josh Porter said last week. "It has been a pleasure to be his coach the last three years."

Shakur was a two-time Georgia medalist and a state champ at 145 pounds this past season. He also has earned All-America honors and a championship at the 2013 USA Wrestling preseason nationals.

The Mocs have wrestlers coming in from six states, including Florida's Radley Gillis, Louisiana's Cody Hill, Virginia's Hunter Manley, Austin Stevison from Cleveland (Tenn.), Indiana's Connor Talley and Georgia's Shakur, Alonzo Allen and Tyler Haskin.

"We are discovering there is a certain talent that it takes to compete at this level, and I think this is a great class. We have not sacrificed the core values of the program," UTC coach Heath Eslinger said. "All of these guys are great in the classroom."

Allen, Gillis and Hill are projected 125-pounders, Haskin and Stevison are expected to be at either 133 or 141 and Talley, a high school 220-pounder, will be a heavyweight.

"Shakur has proven himself on the national level," Eslinger said. "Talley had a great high school career, has been an All-American and has won some national tournaments, and Allen has been a diamond in the rough. He just had a huge win at the USA-Georgia meet."

As a senior, Shakur posted a 53-2 record and pinned all of his state-tournament opponents. He stuck his championship finals opponent in 23 seconds. He had a 122-16 career record with 69 pins and leaves Parkview with a 3.3 grade point average.

A two-time state champ, Hill had a 76-4 record with 45 pins and five technical falls. Allen was a state champion and also finished third at the high school national tournament, while Gillis missed the end of his senior season with an ankle injury.

Manley was a four-time state medalist and 2014 champion, a four-time district champion and a three-time region champ. He finished with a career record of 188-25.

"I can't say enough good things about him," South County coach Sean Anderson said. "He is just a fun person to be around, always has a smile on his face and doesn't take himself too seriously.

"On the mat he is another person. His greatest asset is his mental toughness. He never lost an overtime match in high school. UTC is getting a wrestler who has just scratched the surface of his potential. I expect he will surprise quite a few people at the next level."

Contact Ward Gossett at or 423-886-4765. Follow him at

about Ward Gossett...

Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...

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