Buckeyes Secure Commitment From One of Nation's Most Sought After Linebackers
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Less than three months after bringing in arguably the country's best linebacking group in the 2012 recruiting class, Urban Meyer received a verbal commitment from Pennsylvania linebacker Alex Anzalone after Ohio State's Spring Game.
Anzalone (6-3 220), a four-star prospect from Wyomissing High School in Eastern Pennsylvania, tweeted his decision Saturday night.
"Thanks to all of the coaches who have recruited me in this process and given me the opportunity to play at their respective school. It has been an awesome experience but tOSU is the right fit for me.
"Also, thank you to EVERYONE who supported me through this process. Hopefully the relationships I've developed will come full circle some day."
When Anzalone thanks all of the coaches who have recruited him "in this process", it's a list that would make even the most self-confident player blush.
Aside from Ohio State, Anzalone had offers from Alabama, USC, Oklahoma, Penn State, Michigan, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, South Carolina, Stanford, Northwestern, Duke, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Arkansas, and over a dozen others. Quite literally, he could have gone anywhere in the country.
A two-way player at the moment, Anzalone rushed for 917 yards last season, averaging 11.6 yards per carry. Florida even told him that he could choose offense or defense if he selected the Gators. His future, however, is as a linebacker at Ohio State.
Anzalone was only credited with 58 tackles last season, but once college coaches got to see his film, they were quick to offer.
"I texted Mike Vrabel at Ohio State about him, and they all started watching him," Ross Tucker, who is the CEO of a company that gets high school prospects national exposure, told the Reading Eagle.
"My contact at Alabama told me that after (watching his) first six plays he could tell he would become a national kid. They could see that he could run; they could see his athleticism and how well he moves with the ball.
"They saw how well he plays in space (in defensive coverage), and that's the name of the game at the college level. That's what they're looking for."
It's not just coaches who became enthralled with Anzalone, because the recruiting services did as well. ESPN ranks him the 65th-best player in the 2013 class, and the number five outside linebacker overall. 247Sports also sees him as the fifth-best outside linebacker in the nation. Scout ranks him 10th at the position and Rivals has him 16th.
His ability to defend the pass could make him an ideal candidate to play the strongside, but that won't be finalized until he's on campus for probably a couple of years.
Anzalone, who has a brother that is a student at Penn State, will play in the Army All-American Bowl next year. The future Buckeye is being called the most sought after recruit in the area in the last decade, comparing him to former Michigan Wolverine Chad Henne in that regard.
For Ohio State's sake, let's hope Anzalone doesn't fare "as well" as Henne did in The Game.
Even with this newest commitment, the Buckeyes are still involved with a number of other linebackers, most notably Jaylon Smith, Christopher Worley, Courtney Love and Lewis Neal.
Smith (6-3 225) is one of the top linebackers in the nation. Scout has him as their top-ranked outside linebacker. In addition to his skills at linebacker, he has also shown up at combines and been formidable at both defensive end and cornerback. Right now the Buckeyes likely trail Notre Dame for Smith's services.
Worley (6-3 185) is a three-star Glenville product that would probably fit more into the Buckeyes' hybrid star position. Love (6-1 225) was seemingly on the verge of committing to Ohio State for months, but never pulled the trigger. He might be choosing to move on at this point. Neal (6-1 232) is from North Carolina and might be more of a pass rusher than straight up linebacker
Spots are filling up quickly for the Buckeyes with more commitments likely to come before the month is out. Anzalone is the eleventh commitment in the class, and Ohio State likely won't go over 20—if they can even get to 20.
The 2013 Commitments
1. Cameron Burrows (6-1 195), DB Trotwood, Ohio
2. Jalin Marshall (6-0 190), ATH Middletown, Ohio
3. Billy Price (6-4 280), DT Youngstown, Ohio
4. Eli Woodard (6-1 185) CB Voorhees, New Jersey
5. Evan Lisle (6-6 265) OT Centerville, Ohio
6. Ezekiel Elliott (6-0 200) RB St. Louis, Missouri
7. Jayme Thompson (6-2 184) DB Toledo, Ohio
8. Marcus Baugh (6-4 229) TE Riverside, California
9. Tracy Sprinkle (6-4 270) DL Elyria, Ohio
10. J.T. Barrett (6-1 209) QB Wichita Falls, Texas
11. Alex Anzalone (6-3 225) LB Wyommissing, Pennsylvania
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