Whether Alex Anzalone was going to play his college football at Ohio State or Notre Dame or, as it turned out to be, Florida, there is no doubt in the mind of Wyomissing (Pa.) Area High coach Bob Wolfrum his star pupil will be successful.
As it turns out, the curious recruitment of the four-star linebacker took one final twist Thursday when he informed Notre Dame he would not enroll next week. Instead, he told FOXSportsNEXT’s Jason Higdon that he is heading to Florida, where he is set to attend his first class Friday.
And with it the Gators get an explosive, competitive and, as his recruitment showed, an unflappable Anzalone.
“What stands out?” Wolfum said in discussing Anzalone. “Power, speed and explosion, and probably the best thing is he has a head for the game.”
Anzalone, who is 6-foot-3, 235 pounds, can play outside linebacker, but as a senior he was comfortable playing on the edge. He has very good straight ahead speed and he can move laterally. He struggles a little in getting from sideline-to-sideline, but he is long and athletic, and he can change direction quickly and he has tremendous body control.
However, it is his mental toughness that sets him apart.
If Anzalone’s ability to focus and lead Wyomissing to an undefeated season and a PIAA Class AA state title during a hectic, back-and-forth recruitment wasn’t enough, he fumbled twice in the early going of the title game against Aliquippa.
However, in the second half he was incredible on defense, tracking down plays from behind and making a superb pass breakup in coverage in the flat.
“That (the fumbles) hasn’t happed to him before, but he just doesn’t let things fluster him,” Wolfrum said. “Things go wrong and he just doesn’t worry. He had teams keying on him all year. (Aliquippa) was keying on him all game, and he’s not getting the ball because they’re all over whatever he’s doing, and it doesn’t bother him. He just goes and plays. He doesn’t let adversity both him.”
He also grew accustomed to being in the spotlight at a small school.
“We always had guys at practice,” Wolfrum said. “One day I had Penn State, Notre Dame and Southern Cal on the field at the same time.
“He never seemed to be flustered. When it hit that he decommitted (from Ohio State), it was no big deal.”
Anzalone finished with more than 1,000 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns, and also registered more than 100 tackles as a senior.