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October 31, 2012

Mind of Mike: Will Anzalone fall in love with ND?


MIND OF MIKE: Oct. 24 | Oct. 17 | Oct.10 | Oct. 3

Mike Farrell is the National Football Recruiting Analyst for Rivals.com. Want more of what's on Mike's mind throughout the week? Follow him on Twitter @rivalsmike.

Rivals.com national analyst Mike Farrell is never shy to express his opinion on everything from commitments to rankings to how on-field performance affects recruiting. In this weekly feature -- Inside the Mind of Mike -- the most experienced analyst in the industry gives some of his thoughts on the events of the past week.

Deep thoughts

Last week I said, with great confidence, that Pennsylvania linebacker Alex Anzalone was going to be a Gator and I thought it was pretty much a done deal.

However, there has been yet another twist and turn to one of the most interesting recruitments to follow this year.

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.

Diaco convinced the Anzalones to take an unofficial visit this upcoming Sunday and Monday following Notre Dame's game against Pitt to discuss everything about his commitment and opportunity in South Bend. Why an unofficial visit and why Sunday and Monday? Anzalone has a game on Saturday and Notre Dame and the Anzalone family want to spend much of Monday discussing academics and his chances of being pre-med at Notre Dame and how that would work, questions answered already at Florida.

Despite his commitment to Notre Dame, make no mistake about it -- the Irish trail the Gators heading into this visit and this trip to South Bend should determine where the No. 48 player in the nation ends up.

The same recruits who felt Anzalone was gone are thinking positive thoughts about his status with Notre Dame now and the momentum has swung a bit back to Notre Dame.

But Anzalone will need to fall in love with Notre Dame all over again to remain committed and it's anyone's guess whether that happens.

[ Watch: Four-star LB Alex Anzalone videos ]

Oh and speaking of Notre Dame, will everyone now point to the USC game as the game that proves the Irish aren't for real? I said it early and often, this is the best defensive team at Notre Dame in years and the defensive recruits will continue to commit, Anzalone or no Anzalone.

Imagine 2014's recruiting class on defense if they go undefeated this season? It makes me scratch my head as to why they reached on Greer Martini a bit when they could have four- and five-star linebackers begging to play in South Bend next year.

Martini is a solid player, but with so much momentum they might have to turn away someone better.

You think Anzalone's recruitment has been crazy with a commitment to Ohio State, a de-commitment from the Buckeyes allegedly because of pictures taken without his knowledge with a sex offender, a commitment to Notre Dame that was followed up by a trip to Florida for Friday Night Lights, a visit for the Gators-LSU game and then the cancellation of his official visit and now a trip to determine his future this week?

That's nothing compared to defensive end Christian Lacouture, a three-star currently playing at Lincoln (Neb.) Lincoln Southwest. Lacouture committed to Texas A&M and his family moved to College Station for his junior year, then he de-committed and committed to Nebraska and his family moved to Lincoln.

Now Lacouture has de-committed again and is apparently a heavy lean to LSU. However, there are currently no plans for the family to move to Baton Rouge, so we'll see how this plays out. Any odds on a potential transfer down the line wherever he lands? Sometimes recruiting is stranger than fiction.

The Georgia win over Florida was obviously huge in the SEC East and will certainly help the Bulldogs' efforts in the Sunshine State.

But more importantly, it will really help them in state where they have struggled a little bit this year. The top five players in state are either committed elsewhere or longshots for Georgia at this point and that never happens.

In fact, only two of the top 10 prospects in the Peach State, Tray Matthews and Johnny O'Neal, are committed to Georgia. With the state of Georgia clearly emerging as the No. 4 state when it comes to quality and quantity behind California, Florida and Texas, keeping more players at home like they have in previous years is crucial, especially in 2014.

This win will help as will another appearance in the SEC title game.

One game doesn't usually make or break things for recruits, so I don't want to be overly dramatic about this weekend's LSU-Alabama game in Baton Rouge, but both schools are in the mix for Louisiana four-stars Tim Williams and Kendell Beckwith. A win over the Tide would go a long way toward closing both down the line for the Tigers.

LSU is still smarting from the loss of Landon Collins last year to the Tide and not closing strong in state. If the Tigers can land Williams and Beckwith, LSU will have the top eight players in state locked up. That's how LSU is used to rolling, no pun intended.

Think quarterback recruiting is all but over with the top 35 pro-style quarterbacks committed and 24 of the top 25 dual-threats already verbals? Not so fast.

The nation's No. 2 dual-threat quarterback, Asiantii Woulard, is committed to USF and the Bulls are 2-6 (0-4 in the Big East) with losses to Ball State, Temple and Syracuse on the resume.

Skip Holtz is on the hot seat and with Woulard allowed to showcase his ability at the U.S. Army All American Bowl in January, you can bet it will be tempting for a high-level BCS school to make a run.

With a 5-3 season so far with one quality win, Michigan is starting to take a bit of a recruiting hit. Offensive lineman David Dawson de-committed and, after appearing to be headed to Florida, it now looks like he could end up in the Big Ten after all at a competitor.

If it's Ohio State or Michigan State as expected, that will sting quite a bit, and even if it's Wisconsin, it hurts.

Now defensive back Gareon Conley appears all but gone and he could be headed to Ohio State as well if his dream offer from Oregon doesn't come in.

Michigan is still No. 3 in our team rankings and has a great class, but these losses hurt and if the Wolverines don't close on Derrick Green and Laquon Treadwell, there could be some grumbling among fans.

Quick Hitters

Indiana is 3-5 on the field this year and 1-3 in a really bad Big Ten with the wins over Indiana State, UMass and Illinois, three teams with a combined record of 9-16.

However, on the recruiting trail, the Hoosiers are killing it for a team that hasn't been average since 2007 and hasn't been relevant since the early 1990s.

You have to hand it to head coach Kevin Wilson and his staff. They have secured commitments from players with offers from the following schools - Florida State, Michigan State, Ole Miss, Iowa, Nebraska, Tennessee, Cincinnati and others.

And they could very well steal away Elijah Daniel from Clemson as well and are very much in the hunt for another four-star, defensive tackle Darius Latham.

If Indiana lands five four-star prospects in this class, it will be one of the best low profile recruiting jobs in recent memory.

We've received some flack for making defensive end Jamone Boyd from Missouri a four-star prospect in our last rankings release because he is raw and looks great on some plays and invisible on others.

However, Boyd's potential is off the charts and if he can get his academics together and lands at a school such as Nebraska, where he recently visited with friend, teammate and Nebraska commitment Zach Hannon, I get the feeling he could be a star down the line.

Would Mack Brown have been done at Texas after this season if Case McCoy didn't save his butt against Kansas?

Losing to the Jayhawks after a loss to a West Virginia team that has proven since to be awful -- not to mention a blowout loss to an Oklahoma team that was manhandled by Notre Dame at home this week -- might have sealed his fate.

Remember, this was Kansas, a team whose only win is South Dakota State and has lost to Rice.

Right now, I'm not sold that jettisoning Mack wouldn't be the right thing to make Texas relevant in the BCS picture again and boost out-of-state recruiting to the next level.

Winning is the most important thing in recruiting, it is hands down the No. 1 factor. Want evidence this year? Four-star offensive lineman Kenny Lacy, a UCLA commit who is taking other visits, cancelled his Oklahoma visit to schedule Kansas State instead. If you think that would have happened without Optimus Klein and the great season under Bill Snyder so far, you're crazy.

I mentioned a few weeks ago how gutty Shane Morris was coming back from mononucleosis because he didn't want to let down his teammates.

The same kudos are deserved for Sealy, Texas, athlete Ricky Seals-Jones, who returned from what looked like a horrible knee injury weeks ago to score an offensive and defensive touchdown this past weekend.

You have to love some of the gutty efforts of highly rated kids who could just mail it in their senior years after setbacks. This bodes well for both of them in college fighting through adversity.

[ Rankings: Class of 2013 Rivals100 ]

Bob Stoops is ready to do his best Urban Meyer imitation, it appears, as he's trying to steal away Dominique Alexander from Arkansas, Dimarya Mixon from Arizona State and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo from Oklahoma State.

These are all three-star guys, so it's not exactly Meyer status, but the aggressiveness from "Big Game Bob" is life in the fast lane these days. And after his first-ever season with two home losses, beggars can't be choosers.

If USC keeps losing and Notre Dame keeps winning, their battle in a few weeks could be a battle for safety Max Redfield.

There is a very good chance that USC could be 8-3 or even 7-4 and Notre Dame could be 11-0 when they meet, which is essentially the exact opposite of what most expected in the preseason.

A win over USC in L.A. in front of Redfield (you know he will be there) to cap off an undefeated season could be the clincher.



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