BLUFFTON – Bluffton’s DeAndre Nassar achieved one of his dreams when he won the Division III state wrestling championship in the 182-pound weight class this past winter.
Now the Pirate senior is realizing another dream after signing a letter of intent Thursday to wrestle at Cleveland State.
“I always wanted to wrestle at the Division I level, that was one of my dreams growing up,” Nassar said.
Cleveland State was on Nassar’s radar but he was fielding other offers from places like King University in Tennessee, Lake Erie College and Ohio University before selecting the Vikings.
Nassar opted for Cleveland State for a number of reasons that included proximity, finances and wrestling at the Division I level.
“Ohio didn’t have much money to give, and I really wanted to go to Ohio,” Nassar said. “Cleveland State came late in the process, honestly. They came the week I was supposed to decide, and they contacted me, and I got back with them and went for a visit, and I really liked it up there.”
Nassar, who will major in criminology, said he was impressed with the weight and wrestling room as well as the academic environment.
Nassar brings an impressive resume with him to Cleveland State. He is a three-time state qualifier, a four-time Northwest Conference champion, and an All-NWC football player. Nassar went 48-0 on his way to the state title his senior season.
Bluffton head coach Jeff Kleman said Nassar has earned this opportunity.
“He is a hard working kid with a good head on his shoulders,” Kleman said. “I think he is going to be successful. This is an opportunity not many people get so I think he will be fine with it.”
Kleman added when Nassar puts his mind to something he works hard to accomplish that goal and points to his impressive senior season. After finishing fourth at state the year before, Nassar steamrolled through his senior season to achieve the state title.
“He had a really good year and is a good mentor to the younger kids so I think he has a really good chance at being successful.”
Kleman said staying motivated and focused will be one of Nassar’s biggest challenges at the Division I level.
Nassar has lofty expectations to accomplish at Cleveland State.
“My first goal is to start and to get in the starting lineup,” Nassar said. “The next goal would be to make it to the national tournament. I know it is really hard. That is the top 32 in the country.”
Nassar added that he understands there is more hard work ahead for him. Cleveland State has already asked him to move closer to the facility so he can begin workouts as well as getting to know his new teammates.
“I need to keep working in the weight room all the time,” Nassar said. “I need to stay focused on my grades. You have to be really organized in college, and I have to work on that a little bit.”