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Thursday, January 10, 2013
Gators get much-needed help at linebacker

By Derek Tyson

ESPN 150 athlete Alex Anzalone (Wyomissing, Pa./Wyomissing) switched his commitment from Notre Dame to Florida on Thursday, and the Gators, who will most likely make Anzalone a linebacker, received immediate help at a position that is lacking depth.

The Gators are losing linebackers Jon Bostic to graduation and junior linebacker Jelani Jenkins to the NFL draft. The Gators are left with sophomores Michael Taylor and Neiron Ball and freshmen Antonio Morrison and Jeremi Powell.

The Gators have commitments from four other linebackers: James Hearns, Matt Rolin, Jarrad Davis and Daniel McMillian. Of the five commitments, only Anzalone, McMillian and Rolin are enrolling early. Rolin, however, just had surgery for a torn ACL and his availability for next year is unknown. McMillian and Anzalone will get the chance to learn defensive coordinator Dan Quinn's complex defense over the spring and compete for early playing time early on in their careers.

ESPN's scouting report describe Anzalone as "Tall, long and well-built, he has a ton of physical upside and growth ahead of him. He runs well and is very athletic for his size."

Scouts also felt Anzalone "grows on you as a linebacker and overall football player the more you watch him.

"On defense, his range is impressive as are his well-rounded skill set and instincts to the ball. He is quick to read and react. Can beat blockers with hand strength or slip them with quickness. ... Overall, Anzalone is a very solid football player with physical abilities and intangibles that should allow for good production on offense, defense or special teams."

If Anzalone is able to pick up Florida's defense and stay healthy, the talented athlete has a chance to get on the field early for the Gators.