Nutley heavyweight Brandon Toranzo commits to wrestle at Rutgers

For Nutley heavyweight Brandon Toranzo, the first choice turned out to be the final choice.

This spring, Toranzo, one of the finest wrestlers to ever come out of Nutley, verbally committed to continue his career at Rutgers.

With the decision, Toranzo becomes the 10th member of a Rutgers wrestling recruiting class that is ranked No. 9 in the country by Flo Wrestling. He also joins his older brother Michael, a senior, on the Rutgers roster.

“Rutgers was the first school to ever really contact me,” Brandon Toranzo said, recalling those initial conversations as a junior. “I always wanted to be close, I didn’t really have a feeling of wanting to go far. My brother went to Oregon State before he transferred to Rutgers so I saw how he didn’t like (being far away). It’s better to be home, with my brother. I think it’s a cool thing that a lot of people can’t experience.”

According to Toranzo that contact with Rutgers and head coach Scott Goodale continued even as he rehabbed from a torn ACL suffered in Feb., 2023.

Toranzo recovered from the knee injury with a senior season that was arguably the greatest by an individual Nutley wrestler. The heavyweight went 46-1 to finish third overall in the state – the highest medal placement at the NJSIAA State Wrestling Championships in 43 years. He was Most Outstanding Wrestler at the Essex County Tournament for a second-straight year and at the Region 3 Championships.

Following the season’s conclusion, Toranzo took his official recruiting visit to Rutgers in April and later took visits to Hofstra and West Virginia before making his May commitment.

During that time, he remained patient with recruiting knowing that the injury forced him to commit later than most of his contemporaries.

“It was frustrating, but I definitely understood because you can’t really put down a bet on something that’s not there yet,” said Toranzo. “You got to see how I was able to come back and persevere and get back to training and see if I was even going to be the same. I feel like that was a big concern at first with a lot of people. But I knew as long as I stayed true to myself and my faith and just kept working hard, that there was no way I was not going to be the same.

“A lot of people knew what they were doing and I didn’t, but I stayed the track. I just kept wrestling hard.”

This summer is the first ever that Toranzo has been able to focus solely on training on wrestling. The previous two years he was rehabbing knee injuries as Toranzo suffered a torn ACL to his other knee as a sophomore at St. Joseph Regional. Prior to transferring to Nutley, Toranzo also spent most of his summers preparing for football.

In addition to making the drive down to Rutgers to train multiple days a week, Toranzo has been working with his family’s window service business.

“That’s been a big change,” Toranzo said. “This is my first ever offseason being able to wrestle, which is pretty cool. It’s a big difference. Wrestling is a hard sport to do full time, all year around. But I’ve been learning to work past that and just be able to persevere. I love the grind. I love the grit. So it hasn’t been too big of a change, but it’s definitely different. I’m not used to wrestling in the summer.”

Brandon Toranzo will be one of four Observer-area wrestlers on the Rutgers roster this winter. In addition to his older brother Michael, who competed last year at 184 pounds, the Scarlet Knights also have brothers Damian and Dylan Weaver on the roster. Dylan, a senior, competed last year at 157 pounds and Damian, who redshirted last year, is expected to compete at 175 pounds.

“Everybody started contacting me (after I committed),” said Brandon Toranzo. “They’ve bought tickets. They tell me they’re going to get the season passes, they’re going to come down watch. They’re excited for me. I’m really glad to be in a town that supports me like that.”

Toranzo wasn’t the only local wrestler to recently make a college commitment as Belleville’s Rocco Negron signed to continue his career at Felician. Negron overcame a major shoulder injury to go 18-4 this season and earn Most Outstanding Wrestler at District 10 and qualified for the State Wrestling Championships at Atlantic City for the second time

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Jason Bernstein | Observer Sports Writer

Jason Bernstein joined The Observer as its sports writer in March 2022, following the retirement of Jim Hague. He has a wealth of sports-writing experience, including for NJ Advance Media (, The Jersey Journal, The Star-Ledger.)