Alex Anzalone: Marecic 2.0?

One of the most highly recruited players in the country spent most of last week visiting three schools on the West Coast. Four-star Pennsylvania LB/RB Alex Anzalone visited Stanford, USC, and UCLA, and spent much of his visit in Palo Alto.

Alex Anzalone spent all day Monday, April 2 in Palo Alto, and returned to Stanford on Wednesday night after a brief Southern California swing.

"On Monday, we got [to Stanford] early in the morning," Anzalone said. "We sat through some meetings. I sat through some offensive meetings first and then I spent time with the coaches. Then we watched practice.

"We came back Wednesday night. We spent the day there Thursday and did some more things in-depth and did more academic stuff."

"Friday was the Junior Day. We saw some of the same things we saw the previous days. We saw all of the things again, and they took me and my mom aside and went in-depth about what is actually in the books of the strength program and what people are doing. I also got to watch a workout and hang out with some players. It was a good time."

Anzalone, who spent time with fellow Pennsylvania native Kevin Reihner, in addition to other players including Blake Lueders and Brett Nottingham, said that he felt he meshed well with the current Stanford players.

"I think I fit in," Anzalone said. "They're all pretty well-rounded kids. They care about their academics and so do I, so I think I fit in."

The Stanford coaches reiterated in meetings on the visit that Anzalone would have his choice of playing as a running back or linebacker.

"They said it's really up to me," Anzalone said. "I actually believe them when they say that because I know they've had players go both ways and do all of that crazy stuff, so I know they'd do what I like best. But I know Coach Sanford and Coach Kotulski and Coach Anderson that they all want me just as bad on each side of the ball. I think it's just up to me. I truly believe that."

Owen Marecic went from a two-star signee to a fourth-round NFL pick on the Farm, where, his senior year, he became the first college football player in decades to start at linebacker and fullback. Perhaps the Stanford coaching staff sees Anzalone in the same mold. At any rate, spending so much time in Palo Alto certainly allowed Anzalone to form a solid connection with several members of the staff.

"I'm really comfortable around them," Anzalone said. "I really got to get to know all of the coaches and I spent a lot of time with them. I think we're all pretty comfortable with each other."

During the visit, Anzalone and the other Junior Day visitors got to meet one of Stanford's ace recruiters, former Secretary of State and current Stanford professor Condoleeza Rice. The recruits also met with outside linebackers coach/admissions liaison Lance Anderson to discuss the Stanford application process.

Once he sets his senior year schedule, Anzalone hopes to begin the application process.

"We got to meet with Coach Anderson, because I know he is the liaison to the administration, and they said I won't have any problems getting in," Anzalone said. "I know once I figure out my senior schedule I'd be able to apply in the next couple of weeks and find out. It would be pretty cool to know that I got into Stanford, and if I did commit it would be an actual commit and I wouldn't have to worry about getting in. I probably want to get that out of the way ASAP."

Anzalone said that the highlights of his multi-day trip to The Farm included learning more about the power of a Stanford degree, spending time with the players and coaches, and taking in a few Cardinal practices.

"Definitely learning about what the Stanford degree can do for you, and also it was great meeting the coaches," Anzalone said. "They're all great people, and they're all really nice and family men. It was good just being around the players and seeing how I would fit in, and watching practice and seeing who I would potentially compete with. It was an overall great experience."

One of the potential things working against Stanford in its pursuit of Anzalone is the athlete's stated desire to graduate high school and enroll at a college early, a practice Stanford doesn't allow. Anzalone is aware of Stanford's early enrollment policy and said that it wouldn't impact his ultimate choice, but he did say he would prefer to enroll in college early.

"Obviously at Stanford they don't do that," Anzalone said. "I'd like to do that, but there are tradeoffs. There are some pros and cons. I don't think it would affect my decision too much, but if I want to do that then I think that I will wherever I go."

Despite an erroneous report earlier in the week that listed Stanford, Ohio State, USC, Florida and Penn State as Anzalone's top five, the four-star recruit currently denies holding any favorites.

"I think everyone is pretty even," Anzalone said. "I'm starting to narrow it down but I didn't come out with a top five yet." Still, Anzalone said that he could make a commitment sooner than later, and that he "definitely" wants to decide before the start of his senior season.

"I think I'll play it by ear," Anzalone said. "I guess it's just when you get the feeling. And I mean, even along with that, it's when you get tired of the recruiting process. I don't know, it may be sooner than later, but I think I definitely want to do it before the season, but I don't know. We'll see."

Anzalone, who will visit Penn State for a practice this weekend and then attend a to-be-determined spring game on Apr. 21, hasn't ruled out the possibility of making a return trip to Stanford.

"I'm not sure," Anzalone said. "I haven't talked to my parents about it. I may go this summer if I want to see it again."

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