Commentary

Alex Anzalone coming up big

Watch List LB adds weight, makes big plays and now has over 30 offers

Originally Published: March 12, 2012
By Jared Shanker | ESPN RecruitingNation

WYOMISSING, Pa. -- Bob Wolfrum first realized he had something special in Alex Anzalone early in Anzalone's sophomore year at Wyomissing (Pa.) Area. It doesn't take long for Wolfrum to remember specific examples.

"It was a scrimmage and he happened to be running a sweep and there was nothing there, and I saw him take off and make a play of his own," said Wolfrum, Wyomissing Area's longtime coach.

And Anzalone wasn't done yet.

[+] EnlargeAlexander Anzalone
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comAlex Anzalone has offers from Alabama, Florida, Penn State, Ohio State, USC and many more.
"We try to play as tough a nonleague schedule as we can, and the first game we played Pottsville," Wolfrum said. "That was a pretty tough team and that was his first high school game, and he was sticking it up in there. He probably made more tackles than anyone else we had."

That was back when he was a 6-foot, 180-pound defensive back. Now a 6-foot-3, 224-pound linebacker on ESPNU's Watch List, Anzalone has 31 offers. He says there is a simple key to his constant improvement.

"Definitely my size," Anzalone said. "I put on, like, 40 pounds from the end of my sophomore year to the start of my junior year. That helped a lot."

Working out six times a week, Anzalone followed a simple motto: You have to create the demand and feed the demand. So he increased his calorie intake, having six meals a day and anywhere from 10 to 12 eggs a day.

Surprisingly, the eating was harder for Anzalone than the working out.

"My dad pretty much force-fed me for a little bit," Anzalone jokes. "There were a couple times when I ate too much."

Anzalone has been working out with a couple of NFL players recently, and while he might not have learned much about work ethic from the NFL vets -- he argues he is in better shape than they are -- they did teach him a little about the recruiting process.

"They said when it comes down to picking, pick a school that you fit in with the players and see yourself going," Anzalone said. "You shouldn't pick a school based on the depth chart or anything like that because if you're good, you'll play."

Anzalone visited Penn State this past weekend, and over the next few weekends he will check out Florida, Ohio State, Stanford, UCLA and USC. He said he does not have any favorites since he has not yet seen many of the schools he is interested in.

Anzalone remains humble about the recruiting process and is taken aback when he considers the coaches he gets to meet.

"I remember the first time meeting coach [Urban] Meyer, especially since I followed Florida when I was younger. It was crazy. It seems like he's a celebrity," Anzalone said.

It won't be a long and drawn out recruitment for Anzalone, though. He plans to have a decision before the start of his senior season. He is taking four AP-level classes and several other honors courses on his way to graduating in December so he can enroll at a school for the 2013 spring semester.

So it's no surprise his education will be key in his decision.

"Academics, of course," he said, "[and] definitely the people around the program and its tradition."

Jared Shanker

Florida State/ACC reporter