Awkward. So very awkward. Yesterday, Dan told you that Jonathan Walton, a linebacker prospect from Alabama, decommitted from Penn State after receiving several offers from several SEC schools. However, Walton's decommitment came as far less of a surprise than that of a Pennsylvania linebacker who looked favorably upon Penn State not long ago.
Pennsylvania high school linebacker Alex Anzalone has de-committed from Notre Dame, and is planning on enrolling early at the University of Florida, according to Irish Illustrated, reportedly in part due to Brian Kelly's NFL interest.
Anzalone originally committed to Ohio State, but de-committed after a run in with a convicted sex offender in Columbus last spring. He committed to Notre Dame in early July, but was still being pursued by several teams, including the Florida Gators. Anzalone is the first Notre Dame commit to change his mind following the Irish's 42-14 loss to Alabama in the BCS Championship Game.
After decommitting from Ohio State last spring, Buckeye fans pounced on his father's RateMyDoctor.com page and wrote false reviews. After this latest chapter in the saga, Anzalone has been on the receiving end of some lovely Twitter outrage.
When the news hit the internet on Thursday afternoon that Anzalone was jumping ship on the Irish, a whole host of upset fans took to their keyboards to give young Alex a piece of their minds. If you like peering into the darkness, I suggest going back and reading his Twitter mentions.
Anzalone isn't even the worst case of this we've seen in this recruiting class. Reuben Foster, another highly touted linebacker, jumped from Alabama to Auburn, got an Auburn tattoo, then decommitted after Gene Chizik was fired, and you can bet that all along the way, people across the internet were taking to Facebook and Twitter to tell him just what a - uhhhhh, let's go with "jerk" - he was for not playing for their favorite football teams.
It's sad that it must be said over and over again every year, but the point bears repeating again: Leave these kids alone.
As bizarre as Anzalone's recruitment has been, all this fiasco does is make me thankful that we get closer and closer to National Signing Day with each passing day.
Of course, we have our own recruits to talk about. Some of them are already even enrolled! PennLive summarizes this season's five early enrollees - Adam Breneman, Richy Anderson, Anthony Smith, Jordan Smith, and Tyler Ferguson.
Get your quarterbacks here! Penn State is short on experience at the quarterback position, but long on depth thanks to Bill O'Brien's savvy recruiting and run-on program. PennLive also takes a closer look at junior college transfer Tyler Ferguson, who will immediately challenge Steven Bench for the top of the depth chart this spring.
The move to add Ferguson is more than a ploy to stir the competitive fire of Bench, who is the program's lone incumbent. Ferguson is a 6-4, 210-pound former University of Houston commit who threw for 2,614 yards and 22 touchdowns in 10 games last season season. He's shown enough to get a four-star rating from 247sports.com.
Ferguson enrolled in January, making him eligible for spring practice and, technically, a member of the 2012 recruiting class. The latter fact is a help for O'Brien, who is restricted to just 15 scholarships as part of NCAA sanctions handed down last summer.
Expect Ferguson, who played one season at College of the Sequoias, to be a bona fide contender for the starting job.
Success with Honor. Penn State is 8th in the Director's Cup standings after the fall season, and Pete Massaro was chosen to compete in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. The best news, however, comes from a senior from West Scranton. Congratulations to Eric Shrive, who is being recognized for his work outside the lines this week.
The West Scranton graduate and Nittany Lions guard is one of seven finalists for the Rare Disease Champion award, given annually by Uplifting Athletes to "a leader in college football, individual or organization, who has realized his or her potential to make a positive and lasting impact on the rare disease community."
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"I was really shocked," Shrive said of his nomination. "I don't raise the money I do to get recognition. I do it so I can help people suffering from kidney cancer. To get this recognition, it's pretty special."
Since he became involved with Uplifting Athletes when he arrived at Penn State, Shrive has established himself as the top individual fundraiser in the nation for the Kidney Cancer Association. Over the last two years, he has raised $72,000, and he already has set a $28,000 goal for this summer's Lift For Life event at Penn State. His hope is that he can surpass the $100,000 mark in his last three years.
This is what it's all about. Great work Eric.
In other university news (non-sports) . . . Penn State York named a new chancellor . . . Penn State's student leaders are holding a summit on creating a more sustainable university . . . Penn State research may help wildfire responses. . . "Inspiration Way," a self-described "tribute" group, will hold a candlelight vigil to mark the one-year anniversary of Joe Paterno's passing.
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