The foundation of Florida's success in 2012 was undoubtedly its stingy defense that finished the season ranked second in the SEC in total defense after giving up 286.7 yards per game.
However, the graduation of four starters—coupled with the early departures of safety Matt Elam, linebacker Jelani Jenkins and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd—will leave the 2013 Gator defense looking drastically different than the one that went 11-2 in head coach Will Muschamp's second season.
With that being said, help is on the way in the form of 4-star outside linebacker Alex Anzalone, who flipped from Notre Dame to Florida on Thursday after Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly interviewed with the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles on Tuesday.
Anzalone had previously visited Gainesville and enjoyed his trip, and as my colleague Michael Felder pointed out, Kelly's interview seemed like the perfect "out" for Anzalone.
Just how solid is his commitment? Pretty solid, according to Mike Farrell of Rivals.com.
Anzalone is a 6'3", 229-pounder who Rivals.com ranks as the No. 50 player in the class of 2013.
In other words, considering the situation, he can step right in and contribute to the Gators right away.
With Jenkins and Jon Bostic both gone from the Gators D, Florida will enter 2013 with a relatively young and inexperienced linebacking corps. However, talent is on the way in the class of 2013, as Anzalone will be joined by 4-star James Hearns, 4-star Daniel McMillian, 4-star Matt Rolin and 3-star Jarrad Davis.
Playing time is available, and Anzalone's early enrollment will allow him to get on campus and go through spring practice with the rest of the team, which includes McMillian and Rolin—both of whom also enrolled early, according to FloridaToday.com.
Help is on the way, Gator Nation.
Anzalone has the ability to make an immediate impact in the linebacking corps and on special teams, which are two areas Florida needs to keep solid as the offense continues to evolve. The fact that he's enrolling early will only help his chances to make an immediate impact in Gainesville.