Four-star linebacker Alex Anzalone is a towering presence at 6'3" and 232 pounds, but his prototypical size isn't all that makes him a special prospect.
With a combination of football IQ, playmaking ability and instincts, Anzalone could easily be thrust into a prominent role—perhaps even a starting spot—as a college freshman in 2013.
Also an effective halfback in at Wyomissing High School (Pa.), Anzalone has an outstanding ability to diagnose plays, which makes him a stout run defender. At times it looks as though he baits blockers one way, and then sharply cuts the other way to make the play.
Anzalone is rarely caught out of position, and he has the power to tackle even the biggest ball-carriers.
But despite his size, the linebacker still manages to run a 4.73 40-yard dash (h/t Rivals.com) and a 4.34 shuttle drill, showing that he is exceptionally light on his feet for a player of his bulk. Anzalone's lateral quickness also stands out on tape, which has been aided by his development as a runner.
With his smarts on the field and uncommon agility, he is additionally solid in coverage. That will prove to be a big asset for his prospective college team.
Offenses continue to evolve in various spread formats, and the more linebackers who can cover extremely athletic tight ends—or even hold their own against speedy slot receivers—the better.
That leads to fewer substitutions and more playing time as a result for a player of Anzalone's caliber.
According to 247Sports, Anzalone is the No. 4 outside linebacker in the country, and he will play in the 2013 Under Armour All-American Game. There, he will be able to showcase his abilities in front of a national audience and against other elite recruits from all over the country.
Anzalone's football knowledge and unique set of skills make him adaptable to pretty much any defensive scheme, be it 4-3 or even 3-4.
All of these factors add up to Anzalone having a stellar chance to see significant action in the first season of what should be a very productive collegiate career.
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Unless otherwise noted, all recruiting star ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite system.