One of the biggest pieces of news—especially from a Big Ten perspective—came at Nike's "The Opening" football camp over the weekend. 4-star LB recruit (and former Ohio State) commit Alex Anzalone gave his verbal to Notre Dame.
Here's what Anzalone told ESPN.com about his reason for committing:
"For me, it was obviously the academics," he said. "I want to major in business, and they have the No. 1 undergrad business school. I think having that is a good safety for me if I don't make it to the NFL. Academics was a big factor."
Anzalone added: "I talked with the people close to me, and I felt like I was one of them. I feel good. Now my focus is on my team and winning championships."
Now, this is obviously a bummer for Ohio State, which really didn't do a whole lot wrong when it lost Anzalone under those weird circumstances. Penn State is obviously sad as well to see a coveted target from nearby Wyomissing head elsewhere to play ball; that hasn't happened often in the last, oh, 40 years or so.
Ohio State should redouble its efforts to land Mark Mitchell, the linebacking prospect we told you about this morning. Mitchell isn't rated as highly as Anzalone (for now, anyway), but he fills a similar role as a super-athletic OLB type with the frame to get to a Big Ten linebacker's size without losing a lot of speed.
Mitchell's stock is about to rise after the 4.39 he ran at The Opening. If Ohio State gets a guy like that, they're fine.
Meanwhile, Penn State has no shortage of offers out to linebackers, but it's probably more likely to land an Anzalone-caliber prospect in 2014. Here, Penn State has been early with offers to rising junior studs like Michael Ferns and Dante Booker. Al-Rasheed Benton is a major target for this year as well, but he's a step down from Anzalone.
One also wonders if ATH/LB Zaid Issah's recent commitment was a result of Penn State finding out that Anzalone wasn't likely to be a Nittany Lion.
Of course, it's worth reiterating that signing day is still seven months away (counting on fingers...yep, seven), so Anzalone may yet reconsider his commitment again. He's a teenager. These things happen.
That said, we've seen enough episodes of Arrested Development to know that if Ohio State or Penn State try to help that reconsideration along through nefarious means (up to and including decking Charles Eric Waugh out in Notre Dame gear and sending him out to South Bend), it cannot possibly end well.
So Buckeye and Nittany Lion fans, don't hold your breath—or do anything worse. This is just how recruiting goes. It's absurd and weird. Just go with it.
Lead image via Waugh's TwitPic account, which has since been deleted.
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