Colleges Quickly Found LaLota

Anthony LaLota doesn't get much mail from college football programs. He sees all the letters his teammates at The Hun School in Princeton, N.J. get, and it doesn't bother him. The 6-foot-6, 255-pound defensive end knows that when recruiting coordinators put their recruiting mailing list together for the class of 2009, they had no idea who he was.

They all know who he is now.

Anthony LaLota skipped the endless mail cycle that normally begins the recruiting process, and has gone straight to offers. A basketball player his whole life, LaLota suited up on Friday nights for the first time this past fall, and was first offered by Rutgers in February. Since then, 10 other programs have stepped to the table with a full-ride, and Notre Dame is showing strong interest.

"We sent them my highlight tape a week ago, and they just called my coach and said they were on spring break now, but when they get back, they're going to have (head) coach (Charlie) Weis watch my tape and decide if they're going to offer me."

LaLota has also been offered by LSU, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Syracuse, Penn State, Northwestern, Michigan State and Stanford. He'd love to add another one from Notre Dame.

"I have a strong interest in them right now," LaLota said. He has never been to South Bend. "I want to have the opportunity to go out there and take a visit, and see how I like it and fit in with their program.

"I know how strong the tradition is. Year in and year out they have solid teams, and academically they are one of the best in the nation."

When attending Lawrenceville Prep as a sophomore, many of the football players there thought LaLota could be a beast between the sidelines. They were on him constantly about playing, and they finally convinced him. Unfortunately for them, LaLota transferred to the Hun School.

"I just wanted the opportunity to play for coach (Dave) Dudeck. I thought it would be beneficial for me to see what kind of interest I could get from colleges."

LaLota got more interest than he thought, and he also helped the Raiders go 9-0 this season and win a league title, including a victory over Lawrenceville Prep.

LaLota had 40 tackles, 10 sacks, two forced fumbles and one pass breakup. He also started at offensive tackle and can bench press 325 pounds, squat 430 and runs the 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds.

"Colleges tell me they like how I play relentlessly," LaLota said. "I don't give up on any plays. They like that I'm physical and use my hands well, that I'm athletic and use my speed to make plays."

LaLota was quickly a natural on the football field. One of the major adjustments he actually had to make, was a putting on all the pads before practice.

"That was pretty weird to me," he said. "In basketball you lace them up and go out there and play. For football you have to get there early and it's more of a preparation to go out and play. But that is something I got used to.

LaLota was getting basketball interest from programs in the Ivy League and Patriot League, but he figured his future was probably in football before he even made one hit on the field.

"I think I went in there with the mentality that I was going to be a football player from the beginning," LaLota said, adding that he loved the contact right away. "I think the transition was easy.

"I wasn't sure actually when the offers would start coming in, but I was confident if I kept working hard, they would come in."

LaLota's only visits have been to Rutgers and Virginia for junior days. He plans on going to Penn State's upcoming junior day, back to Virginia for a spring practice, and hopes to see a few more campuses this spring and summer.

In the classroom, LaLota has a 3.7 GPA, and has already scored a 1310 on the SAT. He wants to verbally commit somewhere before his senior season.

"I'm looking for somewhere that has a strong combination of football and obviously academics are very important to me," LaLota explained. "I want somewhere I fit in with people, and where I'm comfortable with the surroundings." Top Stories