For those fans who were worried about Brian Kelly's NFL flirtation costing them recruits, they have the proof they needed. Linebacker Alex Anzalone has decommitted from the Fighting Irish, opting to early enroll in Gainesville, Florida to play for the Gators and Will Muschamp, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Anzalone's camp, according to BlueandGold.com, cited the head coach's NFL interview as the reason for the 4-star linebacker opting for the Gators over the Irish. Losing a player who could have likely competed for playing time in the linebacking corp immediately is a tremendous blow to the great class that Brian Kelly is building.
If you're unfamiliar with Anzalone, he became a national story following his decommitment from Ohio State. A decommitment that saw his father lash out at the Buckeyes following Eric Waugh, a sex offender, posting photos of interactions with recruits during a campus visit. From the ESPN.com report:
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."
Alex Anzalone would then go on to commit to the Fighting Irish at The Opening. Anzalone, as many kids do, continued entertaining other recruiting advances while maintaining he was committed to Notre Dame.
The school that loomed the largest? The Florida Gators.
Anzalone took an in-season visit to Gainesville and, as Mike Farrell of Rivals.com reported at the time, was ready to be a Florida Gator.
The four-star linebacker was all but done with Notre Dame following his unofficial visit to Gainesville for the Gators win against LSU and was rumored to be a silent commitment.
He had also filled out his enrollment and admissions paperwork at Florida, according to a very good source, and when he cancelled his official visit to Notre Dame for the BYU game, it appeared all we were waiting for was for him to say it out loud.
Even fellow Notre Dame commitments felt Anzalone was gone to Florida last week. Now, a very important phone conversation between Anzalone, his father and Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco has breathed life back into Notre Dame's chances.
In other words, Anzalone had to be talked back into his commitment to the Irish after reportedly being ready to go in Gainesville.
So yes, Anzalone is a casualty of the Philadelphia interview by Brian Kelly. Folks who are ready to point out how the interview could hurt the Irish have got the ammunition that they need.
However, if Anzalone is the case that folks are staking their proof on, they need to remember the entire recruitment of the young man. He's no stranger to the decommitment and Florida was the place many people expected him to land, even with him reaffirming that he was committed to Notre Dame.
Ultimately, Anzalone did what he thought was best for himself. Was Brian Kelly's Philly flirtation the cause? Perhaps. But, perhaps the kid who seemed ready to head to Florida was really just looking for a way out of the Irish class and he finally got it. Either way, he most certainly doesn't deserve the faceless Irish fan spouting hatred at him via social media that he's receiving.