May 9, 2012, 7:12 PM EDT
Just days after he stepped away from his commitment to Ohio State, Alex Anzalone welcomed Notre Dame into Wyomissing Area High School as he reopened his recruitment. The top prep player in the state of Pennsylvania, Anzalone has seen his fair share of suitors come through the hallways since he’s distanced himself for the Buckeyes in the wake of a bizarre situation.
Anzalone is no stranger to the Irish, and he attended the Irish Junior Day that saw Notre Dame begin building their 2013 recruiting class. While defensive coordinator Bob Diaco is on the way to visit in the coming days, who the Irish sent to visit raised an eyebrow or two.
Steve Hare of Irish Illustrated.com has the scoop.
With the recruiting door reopened, Notre Dame assistants Chuck Martin and Harry Hiestand visited Wyomissing Area High School on Tuesday, a sign the Irish have a considerable interest in getting Anzalone to South Bend for good.
Martin, Notre Dame’s offensive coordinator, and Hiestand, the Irish’s offensive line coach, weren’t the most logical choices to visit a defensive prospect. But, it’s a telling sign that Notre Dame is willing to line Anzalone up on either side of the ball if he signs with the school in February.
“It went really well, “Anzalone said. “They said I’m top on their recruiting board right now and that it must mean something that an offensive coordinator is coming to your school if you’re a defensive guy.”
Notre Dame wasn’t the first school to introduce to Anzalone the option of playing on offense.
Stanford, Alabama and Florida all expressed an interest in Anzalone lining up as a running back/H-back type of player until he put an end to that discussion.
“They all talked offense until I told them defense,” Anzalone said. “Notre Dame said I could do anything I want.”
A quick look at Anzalone’s junior highlights let you know that the idea of Anzalone playing on the offensive side of the ball is far from a pipe dream. Yet with the Irish looking to replace Manti Te’o after this season, and Dan Fox and Carlo Calabrese entering their senior seasons as well, the Irish need to restock an interior of their linebacking corps and have made Anzalone one of their top targets. (Rest easy, both Fox and Calabrese have a fifth year of eligibility remaining.)
Straight from Anzalone’s mouth, the Irish are in the thick of things. Speaking with 247Sports, it’s clear that Anzalone’s visit this spring was one that helped set the tone for the future.
“They just think that I would be a great fit at Notre Dame, that they have players just like me,” Anzalone told 247Sports. “I guess from talking to the other commits, they seem like good guys. There’s obviously a lot of opportunity there academically, that’s a powerful degree. It was voted as the No. 1 undergrad business school and that’s what I want to major in. It’s a great opportunity and the football speaks for itself.”
Irish fans have to feel good that Anzalone’s first visit — and interaction with the players and recruits — were good ones. After trying to assemble a recruiting class that patched together some impressive players from all corners of the country then struggled to hold on to them, building a core group of players from traditional pipelines will likely serve the Irish well in the long run.
After jumping the gun on his commitment to Ohio State, Anzalone will likely be more patient this time around. That should play just fine with the Irish, who will have a welcoming depth chart and (hopefully) a team on the rise working in their favor.