Lehigh's Zachery Rey, right, battles with American's Ryan Flores during their 285-pound finals match, Saturday, March 19, 2011, at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum) via NCAA.com
In the previous Scouting Report of the NCAA talent that was on display last week, I looked at Lightweight prospect Bubba Jenkins. This time I'm going to the other end of the spectrum and will be looking at the 2011 NCAA Heavyweight Champion Zachery Rey of the Lehigh Mountain Hawks.
Rey was the No#1 seed going into the tournament and was probably the safest bet in the tournament to win his division even though he would meet rival Ryan Flores who he had lost to in a Tie Breaker at the EIWA tournament final at the beginning of the month.
Rey is eligible to wrestle for another year at college so he won't be embarking on an MMA career just yet, but he's still worth keeping an eye on as he's easily the strongest collegiate wrestler currently competing. Rey is a stocky, compact Rhino of a man and if he grabs a hold of you - even if you're a fellow Heavyweight of similar mass - chances are you're going for a ride. Rey's just as content slamming you from a a rear waist-lock as he is scoring with a power double-leg.
Rey however is quite short amongst the current crop of Heavyweight talent standing at just 5'8" tall, so it's unlikely he'll develop into an effective offensive striker because of reach disadvantage, but could be effective in the clinch and against the cage and MMA coaches that specialise in these areas would be an ideal fit.
A native of Hopatcong New Jersey, Rey preferred to remain on the East Coast for his education which might dictate where he may train if he were to give MMA a try. Team Bomb Squad is an obvious pick due to its presence in the North East but the lack of Heavyweight training partners that would include Christian Morecraft - who takes on Sean McCorkle tonight at Ultimate Fight Night Nogueira vs Davis - would limit his growth as a fighter. There are plenty of individual gyms in New York and New Jersey such as the Renzo Gracie Combat Team, Henrys Boxing, Rutger's Wrestling and Elite Wrestling which together have helped craft Frank Edgar into a champion but again there's more depth in training partners at the lighter weights.
For a Heavyweight like Rey - and I see little to no chance of trimming and cutting down to 205lbs Light Heavyweight considering how much of a tank he is - his options for the best MMA training for Heavyweights while remaining on the East Coast would have to be American Top Team in Coconut Creek Florida who can offer Antonio Silva, Jeff Monson and Bobby Lashley as training partners.
However if location wasn't an issue my top recommendation for Rey would be with Greg Nelson at Minnesota Mixed Martial Arts who have been building up a roster of Heavyweights including Jon Madsen, Chris Tucsherer and Cole Konrad and since it appears Nelson and Brock Lesnar have made amends invitation to the Deathclutch gym may also be possible. In particular Nelson really understands the clinch game and knows how to train wrestling based fighters to use strikes to setup take downs. He also knows to bring in top Strength & Conditioning trainers - for anyone who remembers the Sean Sherk and Brock Lesnar workouts - and can get Rey's conditioning up to par.
Rey's takedown highlights from his Championship Finals match with Flores:
Rey's post match press conference: