One of the more intriguing athletes on the West Coast in this recruiting year is Anthony Vernaglia from Orange, CA. The two-way star plays OLB and WR for his Lutheran High School team, but he is being recruited all over the field. The promise of the 6'3" athlete is represented by his junior year numbers, pulling down 43 catches for 900 yards and 13 TDs as a receiver and recording 75 tackles, 12 sacks and five forced fumbles as a linebacker.
"I like both offense and defense," Vernaglia says. "I just want to play, wherever that may be. Everyone recruiting me is different. Most schools say they are recruiting me as an athlete, and I could end up as a linebacker, safety or wide receiver."
The Orange phenom is receiving widespread recruiting attention from all over the country, and says he currently has offers from Stanford, Cal, UCLA, USC, Arizona, Arizona State, Virginia, Notre Dame and Purdue. He further says that his current favorites are USC, Virginia, Notre Dame, Penn State and UCLA. And where would Stanford rank below that top five? "Stanford is just barely below those schools right now," he comments.
"I might take one or two official visits before I make my decision," he reveals. "But I want to decide as soon as I can - maybe before or right at the beginning of my senior season." On top of those official trips, Vernaglia also has unofficial trips he has taken and will continue to take. One trip up I-5 came in April when he saw Stanford's campus during their spring practices. That was the first chance I had to see the young man (see story photo above), and I was very immediately impressed by his physical stature. He's one of those kids who passes the eyeball test with flying colors.
But in my brief interview with Vernaglia, as well as what I have read and heard elsewhere, the vibes are not all that promising for the Cardinal. He is pretty consistent with his list of top four or five schools, and he doesn't appear to have a very soft spot for Stanford despite that one-day trip during spring ball. He's a very compelling talent who would most likely fit into Stanford's new offense as a halfback - a hybrid between a tight end, fullback and receiver that would allow him line up at a variety of positions in a variety of plays and wreak havoc on defenses. But an attractive role in an offense is not all that Vernaglia is seeking in his college decision.
"First of all I want to play as a freshman," he says. "I also want a good coaching staff and good academics." There is also the question of where he wants to be geographically. He has five favorites spread all over the country, and that is not all that normal for SoCal kids. "East versus West - that's what I'm trying to figure out," he says.
It is also noteworthy that the Orange athlete's father, Kip Vernaglia, played for Penn State in the late '70s. That could be a trump card for the Nittany Lions, though the younger Vernaglia plays it down. "It's not too big of a draw for me," he flatly states.
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