Ohio State Buckeyes: Alex Anzalone

State of the Rivalry: Linebackers 

February, 27, 2013
The writers at WolverineNation and BuckeyeNation put their heads together to break down the rivals' 2013 recruiting classes. They'll give readers a position-by-position look at who coaches Brady Hoke and Urban Meyer signed and, ultimately, which class edged out the other. It's too early to say what will happen through the next few seasons, and we won't make any promises except that Hoke and Meyer are going to put talent on the field.

Ohio State got: The Buckeyes looked like they were fine when Alex Anzalone (Wyomissing, Pa./Wyomissing) and Lewis Neal (Wilson, N.C./James B. Hunt) gave early commitments. But both decommitted, leaving the position in a state of need. That need carried on for the better part of eight months, until a January weekend took Ohio State from a state of uncertainty to one of strength. ESPN 150 inside linebacker Trey Johnson (Lawrenceville, Ga./Central Gwinnett) committed to Ohio State during the Under Armour All-America Game on Jan. 4. ESPN 150 outside linebacker Mike Mitchell (Plano, Texas/Prestonwood Christian) followed suit the next day during the U.S. Army All-American Game. Three-star outside linebacker Christopher Worley (Cleveland/Glenville), who can also play safety, rounded out the unit after committing on Jan. 11.

The signing of Johnson, Mitchell and Worley was a sigh of relief as linebacker was the biggest position of need in the class. Last year, fullback Zach Boren had to move over to defense to help. If the play of Mitchell and Johnson lives up to the hype, these two could be the talk of Columbus. Worley hits like a tank. He could play the role as an intimidator over the middle.
If fans don’t have a seatbelt, they’ll likely fall out of the rollercoaster, especially when it comes to recruiting and following the ebb and flow of the wild ride.

One second it might look like Ohio State is onto something, and the next second it all falls apart.

There have been far more hits than misses for the Buckeyes in the recruiting class of 2013. That said, there have been some low points as well. Here’s a look back at five things Ohio State fans would rather forget from the past year.

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The One Who Got Away: Kyle Kalis 

January, 31, 2013
The masses in the business were questioned. The names came back -- and there were few, but they kept coming back to one.

The question: Which would-be Ohio State target who gave a pledge to the Buckeyes before signing with another school turned out to be a big miss for the scarlet and gray?

Although there isn't a lot of data out there from the pre-recruiting-writing era, a scant few names jumped to the surface.

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Johnson's brute style a boon to OSU 

January, 4, 2013
It took Ohio State a little more than a month to flip the switch.

Trey Johnson (Lawrenceville, Ga./Central Gwinnett) headed into The Horseshoe to watch the Buckeyes’ 26-21 win over Michigan on an official visit Nov. 24.

He announced his commitment at the Under Armour All-America Game on Friday and plugged a hole the Buckeyes have been trying to fill for more than seven months.

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Hackenberg, Olsen earn UA Game starts

January, 3, 2013

Black Team offense

Quarterback: Christian Hackenberg (Penn State)

Running back: Alvin Kamara

Receiver: Alvin Bailey (Florida), Robert Foster (Alabama), Damore'ea Stringfellow (Washington)

Tight end: O.J. Howard (Alabama)

Offensive tackle: Darius James (Texas), Denver Kirkland

Offensive guard: Grant Hill (Alabama), Joas Aguilar (Texas A&M)

Center: Hunter Bivin (Notre Dame)

Captains: Kelvin Taylor, Hunter Bivin, Robert Nkemdiche, Ben Boulware

Black Team defense

Defensive end: Robert Nkemdiche, Elijah Daniel

Defensive tackle: Greg Gilgmore (LSU), Kennedy Tulimasealii (Hawaii)

Inside linebacker: Ben Boulware (Clemson)

Outside linebacker: Alex Anzalone (Notre Dame), Matthew Thomas

Safety: Keanu Neal (Florida), Leon McQuay III

Cornerback: Vernon Hargreaves III (Florida), Tarean Folston (Notre Dame)

Black Team special teams

Long snapper: Tyler Kluver (Iowa)

Kicker/punter: Sean Covington (UCLA)

White Team offense

Quarterback: Kevin Olsen (Miami)

Running back: Keith Ford (Oklahoma)

Receiver: Laquon Treadwell, Ryan Green (Florida State), Jalin Marshall (Ohio State)

Tight end: Hunter Henry (Arkansas)

Offensive tackle: Derwin Gray (Maryland), Dorian Johnson (Pittsburgh)

Offensive guard: Patrick Kugler (Michigan), David Dawson (Michigan)

Center: Scott Quessenberry (UCLA)

White Team defense

Defensive end: Carl Lawson (Auburn), Joey Bosa (Ohio State)

Defensive tackle: Henry Poggi (Michigan), Kelsey Griffin (South Carolina)

Inside linebacker: Reuben Foster, Yannick Ngakoue

Outside linebacker: Trey Johnson

Safety: Max Redfield, Antonio Conner

Cornerback: Gareon Conley (Ohio State), Shaq Wiggins (Georgia)

White Team special teams

Long snapper: Brendan Turelli

Kicker: Ryan Santoso (Minnesota)

Punter: Shane Tripucka

Captains: Ryan Green, Hunter Henry, Patrick Kugler, Reuben Foster
SAN ANTONIO – ESPN 150 wide receiver James Quick (Louisville, Ky./Trinity) has drawn plenty of attention for his play through two practices for the East team in preparation for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

He’ll garner even more eyes his way on Saturday when he announces his commitment during the game.

[+] EnlargeJames Quick
Damon Sayles/ESPN.comESPN 150 WR James Quick is set to decide between Ohio State, Louisville and Oregon on Saturday.
The 6-foot-1, 180-pounder said he is down to Louisville, Ohio State and Oregon. Though his decision will come Saturday, it could be finalized by Wednesday morning, as he sits down to discuss his options with his parents, who are in town for the event.

“I am basically going to ask them which coach they have the best relationship with,” Quick said. “There has to be a relationship with the head coach and family as well.”

When asked if there was a head coach among his finalists that was stood out to him the most, he said no. But Louisville coach Charlie Strong and his tendency of playing freshmen is intriguing to him and is one of the main reasons that Louisville is in the mix.

The sales pitch for all of them is pretty much the same: Join our program, and early playing time will likely be there.

“They are all basically saying that I am going to get early playing time. Some are saying that I am going to get the ball more than others,” he said. “It’s all about early playing time, really.”

Quick has taken official visits to Louisville and Ohio State. He wasn’t able to make it to Oregon for an unofficial visit but has the Ducks squarely in the mix because of his relationship with the coaching staff.

“I have built a good relationship with their coaches and the offense that they run. It’s up-tempo, which really excites a player of my caliber,” he said.

Newsmaker: Last week, offensive tackle Jake Campos (West Des Moines, Iowa/Valley) wasn’t expecting to play football over his break. On Tuesday, he was preparing for a nationally televised appearance in a U.S. Army All-American Bowl uniform.

Campos, a three-star Iowa State commit, was called Sunday afternoon as a replacement for injured lineman Chris Fox (Parker, Colo./Ponderosa). By 6 a.m. Monday, he was on a flight to San Antonio. At the end of Tuesday, he was fully taking on the responsibility of fending off stud defensive linemen such as Eddie Vanderdoes (Auburn, Calif./Placer), Justin Manning (Dallas/Kimball) and A’Shawn Robinson (Fort Worth, Texas/Arlington Heights).

“I was shocked at first, but then, I got really excited,” said Campos, a 6-7, 250-pound tackle who said he’s “110-percent committed” to Iowa State.

“It was so out of the blue, but it’s great to be here. At first, learning the plays was tough, but I got those down now. I’m just adjusting to right tackle. I was still working the kinks out, that’s all.”

Superlatives: The East defensive line really stepped up in afternoon practice during 11-on-11 action. Alabama defensive end commit Jonathan Allen (Ashburn, Va./Stone Bridge) was unstoppable. Virginia Tech defensive end commit Wyatt Teller (Bealeton, Va./Liberty) also stepped up his game from Monday, intercepting a pass in the morning session from Auburn-bound quarterback Jeremy Johnson (Montgomery, Ala./Carver) and playing even better in the afternoon. … The best hands on the West team may not be on a wide receiver. ESPN 150 tight end DeSean Smith (Lake Charles, La./Barbe) made some great catches on Monday, and he continued to shine on Tuesday. Smith an LSU commitment, is the No. 5 tight end in the country. … The catch of the day from the East goes to ESPN 300 athlete Tyler Boyd (Clairton, Pa./Clairton), who ripped a ball away from Florida defensive back commitment Nick Washington (Jacksonville, Fla./Trinity Christian). An uncommitted, four-star athlete, Boyd is expected to announce his college future on Saturday. … ESPN 150 running back Derrick Green (Richmond, Va./Hermitage) continued to be the best running back for the East. He shined in the early morning practice, with help from a very good offensive line.

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OSU being careful recruiting linebackers 

December, 26, 2012
Alex Anzalone (Wyomissing, Pa./Wyomissing) and Lewis Neal (Wilson, N.C./James B. Hunt) gave their decommitments to Ohio State and left for what they hope are greener pastures at Notre Dame and LSU, respectively.

Texas A&M signee Tommy Sanders (Cordele, Ga./Butler Community College) could have been a Buckeye, but many believe the numbers game in regards to the NCAA sanctions kept him from becoming a linebacker at Ohio State.

So why have the Buckeyes slow-played a position that looks like a desperate need?

The answer is in the question. With such a young unit coming back, Ohio State can’t afford to miss.

Ryan Shazier is an All-Big Ten performer. Aside from that, the linebackers were under fire all season despite the fact the Buckeyes went 12-0.

Virtually everyone knows the two biggest names in the 2013 class for the Buckeyes are Mike Mitchell (Plano, Texas/Prestonwood Christian) and Trey Johnson (Lawrenceville, Ga./Central Gwinnett).

Ohio State must feel good about its chances as it really hasn’t gone after much else at the position.

The Buckeyes flirted with junior college standouts Martrell Spaight and Auston Johnson a bit, but let Spaight sign with Arkansas and stopped recruiting Johnson altogether.

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Mike Mitchell's OSU visit was 'awesome' 

December, 9, 2012
Ken Mitchell didn’t hear anything about a commitment to Ohio State from his son, ESPN 150 outside linebacker Mike Mitchell (Plano, Texas/Prestonwood Christian), following an official visit to Columbus, Ohio, over the weekend.

What he did hear was how much fun the 6-foot-4, 216-pound senior had this weekend.

“His first two words were 'crazy' and 'awesome,' ” Ken Mitchell said. “The first thing he did when he got there was spend time with Coach [Urban] Meyer. Then he went to the OSU basketball game. He said it was a great time.”

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Analysis: Decommits could be big for OSU 

November, 27, 2012
Urban Meyer’s 2013 recruiting class might get a big shot in the arm and the first-year coach did little to stoke the fire. Two ESPN 150 targets announced their decommitments on Tuesday.

The fact both were in Columbus on Saturday to watch Ohio State beat Michigan 26-21 makes it very intriguing.

Former Auburn commit Trey Johnson (Lawrenceville, Ga./Central Gwinnett) was the first to throw his hat back in the ring after the dismissal of Tigers coach Gene Chizik. The linebacker will have an in-house visit from Buckeyes assistant Luke Fickell on Wednesday.

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It took almost two months in between recruits, but Ohio State picked up its 17th commitment Thursday with Tyquan Lewis (Tarboro, N.C./Tarboro).

The Buckeyes have been courting the 6-foot-3, 225-pound Lewis for quite a while in a summer affair that finally landed the three-star hybrid defensive end/linebacker.

Lewis ended the suspense in a news conference at his high school.

He came to Ohio State’s Senior Advanced Camp on June 10 and got the offer he was looking for, then returned with his mother July 27 for the Buckeyes’ Friday Night Lights camp.

While Lewis didn’t participate at the second event, he did spend the night and the better portion of the next day talking football and beyond with Ohio State brass.

“I felt comfortable there,” Lewis said. “I think it’s a great choice overall. The coaching staff and the facilities, everything there is nice.”

In choosing the Buckeyes over North Carolina and LSU, Lewis adds a dimension the 2013 recruiting class didn’t have as a linebacker.

“I see myself at the linebacking position,” Lewis said. “Just moving around and being aggressive.”

It looked like Ohio State had the position filled, but decommitments from Alex Anzalone (Wyomissing, Pa./Wyomissing) and Lewis Neal (Wilson, N.C./James B. Hunt) left the Buckeyes scrambling to fill the position.

Lewis is a standout athlete who can play in either a 4-3 or 3-4 defense. As a junior, he amassed 63 tackles and 12 sacks. He also brings a winning attitude as Tarboro has won three consecutive state championships and is undefeated this season.

“I bring a winning spirit, speed, and I’m someone that will go out there and play hard every game,” he said.

The other plus Ohio State had going for it was the culture of winning Urban Meyer brings to the Buckeyes.

Already a successful program, Meyer’s two national titles were on the mind of Lewis as well. It’s a tradition the three-star commit hopes to continue.

“I expect to win a national championship,” Lewis said. “Year after year after year.”

Lewis plans on making his official visit on Nov. 24 for the Michigan game.

With Lewis’ commitment, the Buckeyes will likely look once more at the position with athlete Christopher Worley (Cleveland/Glenville) or Mike Mitchell (Plano, Texas/Prestonwood Christian). Both are very interested in Ohio State.

Alex Anzalone hears from Urban Meyer 

September, 19, 2012
Although Ohio State’s potential 2014 linebacker haul is very promising, the Buckeyes are still having trouble securing a top linebacker in 2013.

Urban Meyer is not giving up all hope on one particular ESPN 150 linebacker.

Since Sept. 1, the Buckeyes coach made a call to ESPN 150 linebacker and former Ohio State commit Alex Anzalone.

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Did Ohio State Cheap Out On Championship Rings?
ESPN sports business reporter Darren Rovell discusses Ohio State's decision to spend less than the maximum allowed on rings for its players.