Rivals.com - Alabama, Ohio State battling for elite DE Ani Izuchkwu
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Alabama, Ohio State battling for elite DE Ani Izuchkwu

Ani Izuchukwu
Ani Izuchukwu (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

Pretty much since the beginning of Rivals250 defensive end Ani Izuchukwu’s recruitment, a pair of college football’s most dominant programs, Ohio State and Alabama, have been mainstays. Not much as changed there, as the two programs are still battling for Izuchukwu’s attention, but now they have been joined by a third school at the top of his list.

“My top three is Alabama, Ohio State and Mississippi State,” Izuchukwu said recently. “I have to put my focus on the schools that are serious. Ohio State, they are serious. Alabama, they are seasons. And Mississippi State has really let me know how bad they want me since the new coaches came in.”

Izuchukwu visited Alabama earlier this month and it’s clear the Tide are pushing for his commitment, with defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi leading the charge.

“Coach Tosh came to see me and then I went down there to visit again,” Izuchukwu said. “He’s a great dude. He’s not that type of person who is just going to hype you up. He’s the kind of guy that’s going to show his character and let you know what type of person he is. He tells it like he is. But he’s really cool and when you talk to him he understands what his players need.”

Like most people who watched the National Championship Game, Izuchukwu said he came away very impressed with the number of true freshmen who saw important playing time in the Tide’s win over Georgia.

“I was surprised there were a lot of freshmen who played for Alabama this year and that shows that any player that goes to Alabama, if you work hard you’re definitely going to play,” Izuchukwu said. “It’s not all about seniors or something like that. If you work at it and you know what you’re doing Alabama is going to play you.”

The Buckeyes are also making Izuchukwu feel wanted, with head coach Urban Meyer taking a personal role in his recruitment.

“They are really serious about me and I like them, too,” Izuchukwu said of the Buckeyes. “The coaches are always keeping in touch with me. And I talk to everyone. The head coach, everybody and they’re all telling me how much they want me there. I want to go to a place where I feel like the coaching staff can help develop me and they have said they have a plan for how they can make me better.”

One of the reasons the Buckeyes moved near the top of Izuchukwu’s list was because a visit late last summer, when he got to work with the coaches in a camp environment.

“I went up there over the summer and camped and I got to work with them on the field and really see how they coach and what they are all about,” Izuchukwu said. “We were in the middle of one-on-ones and Urban Meyer came to see me and he pulled me out to talk to me. Since then we have been building a relationship and keeping in touch and I like that he is taking an interest in me.”

Mississippi State has turned up the heat on Izuchukwu since the new staff arrived in Starkville the Bulldogs have jumped over South Carolina for a spot in his top three.

“I like them, too,” he said. “They keep in touch and they keep telling me how bad they want me down there. They are kind of new to me but I’m going to keep building a relationship and go from there.”

Izuchukwu said he’s still not sure of his decision timetable and it will all depend on how things shake out over the next month.

“I could make a commitment soon or I could wait until the season,” he said. “I just know when I feel like it’s the right place for me I will make that call. If I feel comfortable with the coaches and everything I will commit.”