Vernaglia Excited About Future

Linebacker-strong safety candidate Anthony Vernaglia recently returned from a visit to South Bend. The 6-4, 220-pound Vernaglia thought he'd get an early jump on college life and Vernaglia came back very impressed with his future and the future of Irish football. We spoke with Anthony to get his thoughts on his weeks spent in South Bend.

We first spoke with Anthony's father, Kip Vernaglia, as Anthony wasn't home. "Anthony felt really confident when he came back here," Kip Vernaglia said. "He came back all jacked up about football and really liked it there. We were really happy to see that. We didn't know how he'd react, but he was really excited about it when he came home. That makes us feel a lot better."

Kip said he believes Anthony was excited because he felt he could play with his future teammates. "I think he was real nervous when he went up there," Kip said. "You don't know if you can play at that level. He said he came back and felt he could play with them. He felt he had the size and speed to play at that level and I think that is what got him excited.

"He started out the first day at linebacker but spent the rest of his time working out at strong safety. He said he adjusted well to playing strong safety. He told us that Quentin Burrell really took him under his wing and showed him a lot about the position. That is good to hear."

Kip Vernaglia also wanted me to note something for all of my readers. "Here's something your readers will love. The one thing that Anthony was really jacked up about was the enthusiasm of the team," Kip said. "He said the entire team was really energetic and so fired up. He couldn't believe how hard they were working to become a great team. He said he was really impressed with the enthusiasm of the team. He really thinks they'll have a great year."

We then caught up with Anthony and he confirmed Kip's comments to us. "I thought it went really well," said Anthony of his recent trip to Notre Dame. "I think I stacked up pretty well with those guys. I'm learning so I'm not there yet, but I really felt I did well even though I'm learning the position."

Anthony said he's adjusting well to playing strong safety. "It was different at first," Anthony said. "It took a while to get used to. By the time I left, I thought I was really getting the hang of it. Quentin Burrell and Lionel Bolen were helping me out a lot."

Did Anthony feel comfortable playing safety? "You know, I think I'm more built like a safety," he said. "It really felt comfortable once I started to learn what I was supposed to do."

Anthony also agrees that applying what he learned in the playbook to the field is a big challenge. "You can read it all day in the book but it's different out on the field," Anthony said. "I'm glad I went because it really made the book become clear to me. It's a whole lot easier to learn the defense on the field than just reading the book."

The Orange County, Calif. native said he also got along really well with his future teammates. "Everyone was really cool," Vernaglia said. "They were a lot nicer than I thought they'd be. I got to meet a lot of my classmates and we hung out at my parents' condo. We had a lot of fun. It's very different from where I live. There isn't much to do, but we made the most of it."

We asked Anthony if any of the offensive players impressed him while he was working out with the team. "Yeah, Rhema McKnight is really good," he said. "Brady Quinn also looked a lot better than I've ever seen him. Both of those guys should have big years. Ryan Grant also impressed me. He works very hard."

As Kip stated, the team chemistry is one thing that really excited Anthony. "I was very impressed with the chemistry," Anthony said. "Everyone was very positive and working very hard. I was really happy to see that. Everyone got a long really well and that was also good to see."

Vernaglia seemed very excited about his recent visit. Kip told us that Anthony measured in at 6-4, 220 at Notre Dame and that would be a very big strong safety if he remains there. One thing is clear, Vernaglia will have plenty of size and speed no matter where he ends up on defense. We're starting to get that buzz as the season nears. Top Stories