It's been quite a week for Wyomissing (Pa.) Wyomissing Area linebacker and former Ohio State commitment Alex Anzalone, and none of it has been particularly pleasant.
First a photo surfaced in a blog of Anzalone and two other Ohio State recruits with a registered sex offender which, in turn, led to Anzalone's de-commitment from the Buckeyes. The media swarm became intense after his father, Dr. Sal Anzalone, went on the record in regard to the reason for his son's reversal of decision. Now Anzalone himself speaks out.
"I have the upmost respect for the Ohio State University, coach Urban Meyer and his entire staff," said the 6-foot-3, 220-pounder in a text message sent exclusively to Rivals.com. "I will continue to keep the lines of communication open with coach Meyer and coach Luke Fickell. I appreciate their patience and concern, allowing me the time to make this major decision for my future."
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Let's back things up a bit. Anzalone committed to Ohio State at the Buckeyes Spring Game on April 21 and had always maintained, at least to Rivals.com, that Ohio State was his favorite school. After the Spring Game, Anzalone, defensive lineman Joey Bosa from Florida and tight end Mike Heuerman unknowingly posed for a picture with an Ohio State fan. Little did they know that the fan, Charles Eric Waugh, had pleaded guilty to five counts of possession of underage sexual content in 2008 and that the 31-year old would begin tweeting the pictures of himself and the Buckeye recruits publicly. Bosa soon followed Anazalone as a Buckeye commitment on April 23 while Heuerman chose Notre Dame over Ohio State on April 26.
Once the pictures went public, a blogger revealed that Waugh was a sex offender that was enough for Anzalone's father.
"There is a disconnect between what Alex thought was there (at Ohio State) and what is actually there," the elder Anzalone told the Reading (Pa.) Eagle on Friday. "Something's just not right at Ohio State. It's not for him.
"You don't want your son to go to a place where there's a potential issue (like this)," Anzalone's father continued. "You expect the (football) staff to have some sort of control on how things are handled with recruits when they visit. This is ridiculous."
This followed Anzalone's comments to Rivals.com regarding his de-commitment.
"I have de-committed from Ohio State," he said. "I feel that I made my decision, perhaps a little too early and maybe rushed into things. I am going to take a step back and reevaluate everything. I'm going to slow down the process. I have to do what's best for myself and for my family."
Following Sal Anzalone's comments, Ohio State released a statement regarding Waugh and the situation.
'"The issue surrounding the individual from Kentucky is being treated by the Department of Athletics as a student-athlete welfare issue. When the University became aware that this individual had been seen in pictures - taken in public places - with student-athletes, proactive precautions were taken and the Department of Athletics alerted more than 1,000 Ohio State student-athletes about this person," the statement said.
"The email message also reminded them of the negative implications that can be realized through simple associations on social networking sites. This individual is not associated with Ohio State. He is not a booster. He has not engaged in any activities on behalf of the University. The Department of Athletics will continue to monitor this issue and it will remain proactive in its efforts with regard to precautions for its student-athletes."
Following the de-commitment, the statements by Dr. Anzalone and the response from Ohio State, most thought the Buckeyes would be eliminated from consideration while Florida, Stanford, Notre Dame and others surge to the front of the pack.
Is there some wiggle room for Meyer to once again work his magic following Anzalone's statement on Saturday? Time will tell.
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