Cael Sanderson | Head Coach | Wrestling | Penn State University

Describe the qualities that your program is looking for in a potential student-athlete?

  • Confidence
  • Positive attitude
  • Attitude of gratitude
  • Hatred of losing
  • Expectation of success
  • Hard working
  • Hustles
  • Clean living
  • Quickness
  • Coachability
  • Good student
  • Clear purpose
  • Relentless style of play
  • Strong conditioning
  • Tough


Could you give us an example of a current or former player who exceeded your expectations, highlighting the reasons that player excelled?

Jake Varner, a former student-athlete is probably the greatest example of all of these characteristics. He was tough. He wanted  the best training partner he could find every day, no exceptions. Although he took a lot of lumps over the years as he was developing, he kept fighting and working. He lived a very clean lifestyle with no alcohol, drugs, tobacco or excessive junk food. He was very loyal and coachable with a strong sense of gratitude, which is very rare these days I believe. Jake knew what he wanted from the beginning. He wanted to be the best wrestler in the world and his thoughts and actions were always in line with that vision. Jake was very difficult to discourage, both in practice and competition. Jake was not the most talented in terms of quickness but toughness, confidence and willing to battle to win made him the best in the world. He ended up being a 4-time NCAA finalist/ 2xNCAA Champion and went to win a bronze medal at the 2011 World Championships and capped it all off with a gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.