Jul 8, 2012, 9:20 PM EDT
With the spotlight on him during halftime of the 7-on-7 championship game at The Opening in Oregon, Alex Anzalone gave Notre Dame another blue-chip linebacker in the 2013 recruiting class.
Joining Jaylon Smith, Michael Deeb, and Danny Mattingly at the linebacker position, the Irish have filled a gigantic position of need with one of the most talented position groupings in the country, adding to the treasure trove of front-seven talent Notre Dame is stockpiling under head coach Brian Kelly.
Anzalone’s recruitment has seen its fair share of twists and turns, with the Wyomissing, Pennsylvania making an early commitment this spring to Ohio State before stepping away from the decision. In the months following, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound linebacker seemed to be favoring Florida, Penn State, and Notre Dame depending on the week, with the Irish always in the mix for one of the country’s best players.
How Notre Dame ended up closing Anzalone was a dogged pursuit by coaches, players, and fellow recruits. Joined in Oregon by Irish commitments Smith, Corey Robinson, Steve Elmer, James Onwualu, Devin Butler and Colin McGovern, Anzalone cited his comfort level with his future teammates as a big reason he’ll be playing his college football in South Bend.
“They’re awesome,” Anzalone said of his future teammates. “They’re all really close. Even when I was uncommitted they took me in like I was committed. They’re a group of special guys. I love them.”
Academics and the Irish coaching staff also played a huge role in landing Anzalone. With Kelly and Bob Diaco working hard to land what looks to be Manti Te’o’s heir apparent, Anzalone won’t shy away from the lofty comparison, with plans to wear the No. 5 jersey as well after enrolling early.
Anzalone had an impressive offer list, with Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan, Oklahoma, Stanford, USC and at leat a dozen other teams chasing the linebacker. Anzalone is the 17th commitment to the class of 2013, rocketing the Irish’s recruiting class into one of the top groupings in the country.