Alex Anzalone Decommits from Notre Dame, Picks Florida: Where Do Irish Turn Now?

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Alex Anzalone Decommits from Notre Dame, Picks Florida: Where Do Irish Turn Now?
Via 247Sports

4-star outside linebacker Alex Anzalone has reportedly decommitted from Notre Dame and instead will enroll early at Florida.

This is a monumental recruiting loss for the Fighting Irish, and it really adds insult to injury coming off the heels of their 42-14 loss to Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game.

Irish Illustrated of Tweeted out the news:

It would be one thing if Anzalone just decommitted and kept Notre Dame as an option, but for all intents and purposes, it looks as if the 4-star outside linebacker will indeed enroll early at Florida—and that will end any hope Notre Dame could have at winning Anzalone back.

To make things even worse for Notre Dame, Adam Gorney of tweeted that Anzalone flipped because of Brian Kelly's interview with the Philadelphia Eagles of the NFL:

Suffice it to say that nothing has gone right for the Fighting Irish this week.

Anazlone projects to be a very good linebacker at the college level and he was one of Notre Dame's marquee recruits for 2013. He checks in at 6'3'', 232 pounds, and is ranked as the No. 7 outside linebacker recruit according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings.

Check out the Full+Ride Scouting Report for Anzalone

It looks like Anzalone to Florida is a lock at this point, so where do the Fighting Irish turn from here?

The good news is their 2013 class is still incredibly good, and it still features 5-star outside linebacker Jaylon Smith and 5-star safety Max Redfield on defense. The bad news is Anzalone's presence as an outside linebacker could have made both of those players even better.

If anything, the commitment of Doug Randolph now becomes a lot more important. Randolph is a 4-star outside linebacker from Richmond, Virginia, and he's essentially now the No. 2 outside linebacker recruit behind Smith for 2013.

There aren't any other realistic or comparable recruits out there that could replace Anzalone, so turning their attention in-house is the best option for Notre Dame.

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The Fighting Irish need to do a bit of damage control to make sure that nobody else follows Anzalone out the door because of Kelly's interview with the Eagles. Stability at the head coach position is often times a crucial selling point with recruits, and even the slightest bit of uncertainty can cause commitments to start swaying.

In Anzalone's case, the uncertainty was apparently enough to get him to go to Florida—a school that he had major interest in earlier on in the recruiting process.

If you could only pick one recruit for ND to land:

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This is a big loss for Notre Dame, but when you put it into perspective, its 2013 recruiting class is still very strong. Keeping commitments intact has to be the main focus from here on out. 

It's also worth noting that major recruits like 5-star defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes and 5-star cornerback Priest Willis are still on the board, and the importance of landing one or both of those elite recruits has gone up tenfold after Anzalone's bolting. Once the Fighting Irish feel good about the security of their current commitments, they can get back out and hit the recruiting trail strong to finish off the 2013 cycle.

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