NOTRE DAME — So much for a quiet week on Notre Dame’s campus after a BCS Championship game blowout.
Damage control is in full swing.
After reports surfaced late Wednesday that head football coach Brian Kelly had a rendezvous with the Philadelphia Eagles one day after losing to Alabama, concerns hit the social media sphere about ND recruits. By mid-afternoon, one five-star recruit had decommitted.
Standout linebacker Alex Anzalone said via Twitter Thursday that he will enroll at Florida. Anzalone, a 6-foot-3, 229-pound inside linebacker from Wyomissing, Pa., was scheduled to early enroll to Notre Dame on Saturday. Other early enrollees scheduled to star this weekend are offensive lineman Steve Elmer, tight end Mike Heuerman, wide receiver James Onwualu, wideout Corey Robinson, and quarterback Malik Zaire.
Anzalone was rated the No.11 prospect by ESPN’s Top 150 recruiting list.
According to cbssports.com, Anzalone was previously committed to Ohio State after visiting the Buckeyes for their spring game and making his pledge on the trip but later decommitted after learning he came into contact with a convicted sex offender when taking a photo. He also reportedly gave serious consideration to Penn State.
On the flipside, other recruits reaffirmed their commitment to South Bend, including prized Fort Wayne All-Stater Jaylon Smith.
Smith, rated the No.2 linebacker in the nation, posted on his Twitter account Wednesday night that he’s in for the long haul.
“If Kelly leaves!!!!! ... I’m still a domer (shoutout) to my ND fans,” tweeted Smith, who helped Luers to a fourth straight IHSAA Class 2A state title in November.
John Montelus, a 6-5, 295-pound offensive lineman, from Everett, Mass, tweeted Thursday, “I’m never leaving.”
The question about Kelly, though, has yet to be ironed out.
Two days before the BCS national championship game, Kelly carefully fielded questions about the NFL, which including the Eagles, has six openings.
“When I took the job at Notre Dame, I think I said it was a dream job,” Kelly said at ND’s BCS Media Day press conference. “But I never went around day to day anything about being the Notre Dame head coach, because the job that I had in hand was what I was thinking about.
“And I think that’s the same thing with the NFL. I think from my perspective I’ve got the best job in the country, NFL, college, high school, whatever. I just look at the place that I’m at and thankful for the opportunity that I have.”
Now, with other high-profile college coaches being linked to NFL searches, Kelly’s name has taken off like a brushfire on Twitter and Facebook. The Fighting Irish are faced with answering a lot of questions in the coming days.
ESPN and Rivals.com had Notre Dame with the No.1 recruiting class for 2013. With Anzalone going to the Gators, Rivals.com dropped ND to No.2 on Thursday afternoon.
The first national letter of intent signing date is Feb. 6 and early enrollees hit campus this weekend. According to ESPN, nine of Notre Dame’s 22 recruits are in the top 150 of the incoming national class, the same as Alabama.
Manti Te’o and Theo Riddick topped the seniors who will graduate and coveted tight end Tyler Eifert announced Monday night that he will not return for 2013.
Kelly said that the NFL “is not an option” on Saturday, but he didn’t exactly slam the door closed, either.
“For me to say I’ll never coach in the NFL, I have no idea,” he said during an interview session at Sun Lite Stadium. “I’m not trying to be evasive. It’s the truth of the matter. It’s all about timing
“This is the biggest game that I’ve ever been involved in, so my focus is 100 percent on this football game. All that other stuff, that happens when you’re winning football games. I’ve been through this a lot in my career. It’s flattering if there is interest, which I don’t know that there is. But again, that is such a secondary topic for me right now. It’s all about this game.”