Coach Change Has Defender In Limbo

This linebacker from the Florida panhandle will visit Louisville this weekend.

Pensacola, Fla.--Coaching changes affect a school in ways most fans don't even realize. In addition to the players that are already on a team, players that are being recruited by colleges can sometimes feel the aftershocks when a coach moves on to another job. That is the case with linebacker Joe Anoai from Escambia County High.

A 6-3, 240-pound outside linebacker with 4.67 speed in the 40-yard dash, Anoai had been hearing from Coach Bobby Petrino and the Auburn Tigers before Christmas. But when Coach John L. Smith left the Louisville Cardinals for Michigan State, Petrino was the coach named to succeed him at the Conference USA school. Without a coach to recruit the areas left over with his departure, Auburn hasn't been in touch with Anoai since Petrino's departure and that has the defender up in the air with his college choices.

Joe Anoai

"I just got back from a visit to South Florida," Anoai tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "I have Louisville, N.C. State and Georgia Tech I'm also looking at. I haven't heard from Auburn since Coach Petrino went to Louisville. He's contacted me from Louisville and offered me a scholarship though."

A physical player that makes plays from sideline to sideline, Anoai finished his senior season with 120 tackles, 12 sacks, five forced fumbles and one interception. A four-year starter, he had 101 tackles and seven sacks as a junior. Being recruited by most schools as either an outside linebacker or defensive end, he says that he's still interested in Auburn and has been since he visited this past summer for a camp on the Plains.

"I had Auburn set for Jan. 31, but with Petrino leaving I don't know where I stand with them," Anoai says. "I like their facilities and the way everything is set up there. It's just first class. Everything is nice from the weight rooms to the locker rooms to the training rooms to the practice fields. It's also close to home."

Tiger Ticket Extra: Anoai has visits scheduled at Louisville this coming weekend (Jan. 10), N.C. State on the 17th and Georgia Tech on the 24th. A basketball player much of his high school career, Anoai decided to pass up his final season on the hardwood to concentrate on the recruiting process. As a junior he averaged 12 points and nearly 10 rebounds a game.

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