Coach Brian Kelly received his 17th verbal commitment for the 2013 class today from ILB Alex Anzalone (Reading, PA - Wyomissing Area). He is listed at 6'3" and 232 lbs.
Anzalone was a one-time Ohio State verbal commitment and chose the Irish over Penn State and Florida. He holds over 30 scholarship offers from programs across the country.
Recruiting Service Rankings:
ESPN - 4 star (#4 PA, #5 OLB), 85 Grade (#66 Overall), ESPNU150
Rivals - 4 star (#3 PA, #7 OLB), 6.0 Grade (#49 Overall)
Scout - 4 star (#4 OLB, #80 Overall)
247Sports - 4 star (#4 PA, #4 OLB), 95 Grade (#43 Overall)
More after the jump.
Anzalone already has the size and skill-set to contribute early for the Irish. He is listed as an outside linebacker by all the services and that is his primary position at the prep level; however, I think he could likely play any of the four positions in Bob Diaco's defense. The number of snaps he plays on defense will be dictated by his understanding of the scheme and playbook as a freshman, but will at minimum be a special teams contributor and situational defensive player as a freshman.
Based on his frame, I think his target playing weight should be right around 250 lbs, so he has a bit of work to do in the weight room to get to be an every-down defender. As I said above, I think he could handle playing any of the linebacker spots in the Irish defense, but I think his best fits are either at DOG or MIKE. I would prefer to see him play inside, as he is a physical presence on film-he does an excellent job of taking on lead blockers, shedding them and making the tackle.
In addition to adding some weight in order to take on opposing offensive linemen, there are a few other areas for improvement for Anzalone. In general, he is similar to most other elite linebacker prospects at the prep level in that he relies too heavily on his advantage in athleticism and therefore the technique isn't as polished as it needs to be. He needs to improve his angles in order to contain speedier college backs and receivers and work on dropping his pads a bit lower and wrapping up the ball carrier. All that being said, he is an excellent addition to the 2013 class and a future star for the Irish.
Welcome to Notre Dame Alex!