BEAVERTON, Ore. -- Notre Dame has the No. 8 recruiting class in the country but might not hold that ranking for too long after picking up Wyomissing (Pa.) linebacker Alex Anzalone, who committed to the Irish at The Opening.
"What sold me was the academics, it really doesn't get much better than that," Anzalone said. "Stanford and Notre Dame, those are kind of the top institutions in college football right now (in terms of academics and football). I want to surround myself with good people and obviously if they're going to Notre Dame, they care about their academics and want to get a good education.
"At the same time you can play top level football so I think that was one of the main reasons I chose Notre Dame."
The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder had also considered Penn State and Florida among his final schools. Anzalone's final unofficial visit was to Happy Valley and though he enjoyed his trip to see the Nittany Lions and visit with their staff, he didn't want to make a decision so close to the trip and held off to clear his head.
"I came into it and didn't want to make an emotional decision," he said. "After Ohio State and everything, I wanted to wait a few weeks before I committed anywhere to see if it were the actual feelings I was having and if I had them a couple of weeks later when I'm not on campus. Going to Penn State, they did a little recruiting but the facts are the facts so I can't change my mind about it."
Anzalone was previously committed to Ohio State after visiting the Buckeyes for their spring game and making his pledge on the trip but later decommitted after learning he came into contact with a convicted sex offender when taking a photo. His father had some choice words regarding the incident that took a life of its own and that's something the linebacker kept in the back of his mind as he went through the process once again.
"I think it did," he said. "I focused a little more on academics (this time) and realized that not everybody can go to the NFL so you want to have that safety blanket behind you in case anything happens. You never know. Some of these kids keep saying, 'NFL, NFL, NFL,' and it's kind of sad but it is what it is."
Playing for the 'Field Generals' team at The Opening, Anzalone has been one of the top linebackers at the even and picked off several passes on Saturday during pool play. He has looked comfortable on and off the field and owes a lot of that to being familiar with what was going to go on this week beforehand.
"I looked into it a lot so no surprises for me," he said. "I know all the players are excited for the gear and everything. Talking to the NFL players was pretty cool, we had a nice chat session with them. I really like Ray Rice, he's a good dude. They had an auditorium and all of them were there, Ray Rice, Sean Witherspoon, Ndamukong Suh. They're all good dudes and that was cool for me."
Notre Dame is now up to 17 commitments for the class of 2013. Anzalone will play in college alongside five-star outside linebacker Jaylon Smith, who is also at The Opening and visited South Bend with the newest Irish commit.
"It means everything having a guy like that in the class," Smith said. "We really just have to keep the intensity up and keep landing more people."
Given the momentum Notre Dame has on the recruiting trail, it wouldn't be surprising at all if Smith's words ring true.