Alex Anzalone decommits from OSU
Alex Anzalone of Wyomissing, Pa., decommitted from Ohio State's recruiting class Friday after a convicted sex offender posted a photo on the Internet of himself and the junior linebacker, taken during Anzalone's unofficial visit to the Buckeyes' campus last month.
Anzalone, rated No. 65 in the ESPN 150 and the No. 4 prospect in Pennsylvania, committed to Ohio State April 21 while visiting Columbus for the Scarlet and Gray spring game.
You would think that these kinds of people would be kept at a distance away from recruits. The fact that (a sex offender) got close to recruits was the issue. Keep people like this away from them. I can't be everywhere.” -- Sal Anzalone,
father of an Ohio State recruit
After the game, 31-year-old Charles Eric Waugh, listed on Kentucky's sex-offender registry, approached Anzalone and fellow visitors Mike Heuerman, a tight end now committed to Notre Dame, and Ohio State commit Joey Bosa, a defensive tackle from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Waugh posed for a photo with the recruits. He posted it on Twitter this week and sent several messages via the social-media website to Buckeyes players and recruits.
That was enough to spook Anzalone, who already had experienced some regret about his early college decision, his father said.
"You would think that these kinds of people would be kept at a distance away from recruits," Sal Anzalone said. "The fact that he got close to recruits was the issue. Keep people like this away from them. I can't be everywhere."
Sal Anzalone urged his son to decommit after word began to spread about Waugh.
"Separate yourself," Sal Anzalone said, "because you don't want the NCAA thinking that you're being influenced by this joke."
Ohio State compliance director Doug Archie sent an email this week to the student-athletes, according to the school's student newspaper, The Lantern, warning them about Waugh and urging them to carefully choose their acquaintances and friends on social-media websites.
Archie's email included a mugshot of Waugh and a link to a 2008 article from the Daily Independent of Ashland, Ky., about Waugh's guilty plea on five counts of possession of matter portraying sexual performances by minors, according to The Lantern.
Other Ohio State football players, including current wide receiver Verlon Reed and former offensive lineman and Cleveland Browns signee J.B. Shugarts, also were pictured with Waugh in Twitter photos, The Lantern reported.
Waugh's Twitter account had been deactivated by Friday night.
As news of Anzalone's decision and Waugh's past spread, the school put out a statement Friday night.
"The issue surrounding the individual from Kentucky is being treated by the Department of Athletics as a student-athlete welfare issue. When the University became aware that this individual had been seen in pictures -- taken in public places -- with student-athletes, proactive precautions were taken and the Department of Athletics alerted more than 1,000 Ohio State student-athletes about this person," the statement said.
"The email message also reminded them of the negative implications that can be realized through simple associations on social networking sites. This individual is not associated with Ohio State. He is not a booster. He has not engaged in any activities on behalf of the University. The Department of Athletics will continue to monitor this issue and it will remain proactive in its efforts with regard to precautions for its student-athletes."
No Ohio State coaches or staff members were present when the recruits met Waugh. The encounter occurred at night on campus, according to Sal Anzalone.
The elder Anzalone said he held nothing against Ohio State coach Urban Meyer and co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell, who recruited the player.
"Ohio State had no idea that this guy was a perv," Sal Anzalone said. "They were totally unaware. Let's make that very clear. That's not Ohio State.
"But Alex was creeped out by him. He thought something was wrong. Alex wasn't going to get hurt. Alex could knock him out. But the point is, this creep shouldn't be near recruits."
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Alex Anzalone was selected to play in the Under Armour ll-America Game and has received scholarship offers from Florida, Michigan, Georgia, Notre Dame, Alabama, Stanford and USC, among others.
His father said he might even still consider the Buckeyes.
"It's a possibility," Sal Anzalone said. "Things change. You can't hold them responsible for other people's behavior."
No matter the school, Alex Anzalone may have to stay in touch with his dad during all recruiting visits as a result of this situation.
"I want to know where he's going and what he's doing," Sal Anzalone said. "I want to be in contact with him."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.