Despite the Trojans being stacked at linebacker and moving Demetrious Wright to outside linebacker this spring, the Trojans are hot on the trail of a 4-Star linebacker out of Reading, Pennyslvania, Alex Anzalone.
Anzalone is an athletic force at linebacker, and so much so that Stanford is even pursuing him to be a running back, a la Owen Marecic, whom Jim Harbough used on both sides of the ball during his time on the farm. In high school he’s played both linebacker and safety, and given his size, 6’3″ and just 210 pounds, he still has room to fill out physically.
At USC, he’d likely fit in as another outside backer in the mold of Dion Bailey, a converted safety, as he compares to a less flashy version of high school phenom Su’a Cravens, whom the Trojans have pegged as their top target, and rightfully so, considering he’s gathered comparisons to Charles Woodson.
Monte Kiffin has really shown a knack for finding use for the small framed linebackers, as the days of having players in the mold of Brian Cushing might be dwindling. Bailey(6′, 200 lbs), Scott Star (6′ 3″, 220 lbs) and Hayes Pullard (6’0, 225 lbs) are all built as athletes rather than bone crushing linebackers, and that’s what defenses need in this day and age, to combat the spread offenses of Oregon and Arizona.
Last month, Mike Drago of the Reading Eagle profiled Anzalone, pointing out his sudden spike in attention over the last few months and highlighting the interest from USC.
Over the past five weeks he has heard from almost every top program, but one really stuck out above the others: the University of Southern California. “All of the schools (that have offered) are really good, but the USC offer really struck me pretty hard,” said the 6-3, 220-pound junior. “When you think of USC, you think of top-notch football, the best players in the country.” Ten weeks ago Alabama’s Saban, Ohio State’s Meyer and USC’s Lane Kiffin had never heard of Alex Anzalone, much less of Wyomissing.
That was March 6th and now, more than a month later, Anzalone is one of the most sought-out recruits in the country, with the aforementioned schools all vying for his services, plus offers from Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Michigan.
Our colleague Tim Tolley, a recruiting analyst for FanSided 150 and Victory Bell Rings on the FanSided Network, spoke to Anzalone on Wednesday about his recruitment process, and what’s next in store for the junior linebacker. Contrary to reports of favorites being had, Anzalone told Tolley that he’s yet to establish a list of top five schools, a sentiment echoed by Irish Sports Daily, who also spoke to Anzalone yesterday.
Anzalone is set to visit Penn State for the third time this weekend. He’s visited USC,as well as Virginia, Ohio State, Stanford, Florida and UCLA. However, he won’t be hand for the Trojans’ Spring Game due to his plans to be in Happy Valley on Saturday.
While on his trip to Penn State don’t expect him to commit; he gave Tolley a 0% chance of committing to a school this weekend, despite his intent to decide before his senior season, in hopes of enrolling early after graduating from high school in December.
So if the Trojans want to get a head start on replenishing the defense, which will be depleted after this season, snagging Anzalone would be a great look.