Two years ago, the Iowa Hawkeye recruiting class featured three top 50 recruits (D1CW) and in that collection of talent was the #40 ranked Aaron Bradley – a future heavyweight for the Hawkeyes. Shortly after Iowa fans learned that Bradley was becoming a Hawkeye, they also learned that the Pennsylvania native would be taking a two year mission, something Iowa fans were not unfamiliar with. The question many feared was: ‘would his verbal commitment actually lead to Bradley ever donning the Black and Gold singlet?’.

Photo credit: Matt Smith | Express-Times

That question seemed to get even more complicated just a year later, when Iowa landed another heavyweight, this one in the top 25 recruit from Minnesota, Sam Stoll. With the Hawkeyes finding a wrestler’s who eligibility timeline that matched up perfectly with their current starter, Bobby Telford, fans were beginning to think the Bradley ship might have sailed right then. Thankfully head coach Tom Brands alleviated the worry by stating he was confident the former top recruit would end up in Iowa earlier this fall, but we reached out to try and lay it all on the table.

The truth is, Bradley going anywhere but Iowa was never truly in doubt, “I have never really changed my mind. I haven’t really gone off and talked with other coaches since I made my decision. I am pretty excited [to be a Hawk].” Bradley told us in an interview, “I remember the recruiting trips before I left for my mission. I visited various colleges and I knew that when I visited Iowa I just fell in love with it. I felt great about it, the coaches were awesome, I was pretty much set on going to Iowa during my mission and right now.”

So with Bradley officially (still) committed to the Hawkeyes we went in to discuss his plans of joining the team, “My full eligibility clock will start in the fall of next year.”

That of course is great news for the Hawkeye program, as Sam Stoll is completing his freshman season at heavyweight for the Hawkeyes, Bradley’s clock not starting until 2016 would put him a full two seasons behind Stoll easing the logjam of having to high caliber heavyweights, but only one spot for them to compete at.

Essentially Bradley will redshirt in 2016-17, and then compete for the starting spot beginning the 2017-18 season through 2020-21. This amounts to starting his clock three seasons later than the normal high school incoming freshman.

Bradley also let us know that as far as his training plans go he will continue to work out in his home state of Pennsylvania and he also plans to work out in Iowa within the NCAA regulations. Bradley currently steps on the scale between 240-245 pounds, which is about what he weighed in high school, but he let us know that he is hoping to add some real muscle and his ideal competition weight will be around 260 pounds for next season.

Some fans may know that Bradley is not the first Hawkeye to take a mission, with former Strength and Conditioning coach Luke Lofthouse taking a mission while at Iowa. Bradley opened up a little about his time in Brazil, “Basically for the last two years of my life, after I graduated high school, I went straight on a mission. Basically the church sent me there, I didn’t get to choose. I got sent to Brazil, the northeastern part. For two years I was close to the equator where I was sweating my head off. The day to day work was to serve people. You help people do like service projects, turning their life around, helping with drug and alcohol addictions, helping them start going to church and do the right things. We also taught them about Christ and how they can follow him.”

While Bradley was in Brazil, he did admit to the challenges of living in a remote area, “I would try [to follow the Hawkeyes], but I was pretty much off the grid. It was pretty humble circumstances where I was. I was pretty much living on a dirt road and living in a house that was pretty simple. If we had internet I would try and look (at results), but most of the time I would email my parents and that’s about it. I would only be able to call my parents on Christmas and Mother’s Day. I tried to follow wrestling, but I was pretty much off the grid.”

This coming year Bradley plans on putting a lot of work in to get back into mat shape and to get his body physically to where it needs to be. One of the things he repeated several times throughout the interview was how he was excited to be a part of the Hawkeye program, and can’t wait to start competing in 2016.


By Ross Bartachek (@rossbchek)

Lead Editor of IA Wrestle