When Alex Anzalone announced his commitment to Notre Dame he stood in front of a camera that shared his decision with a national audience watching on ESPNU.
He explained his decision and answered a couple questions from the television host in a segment that lasted barely two minutes.
But in those two minutes, Anzalone heaped expectations on himself before frenzied Notre Dame fans could do so themselves on message boards.
He devoted time in the announcement to talk about playing the Mike linebacker position that Manti Te'o will be vacating and wearing the No. 5 jersey that Te'o has made so popular during his four years in South Bend.
It turned out that fans and reporters weren't the only ones paying attention to the announcement. Shortly after the announcement was aired, Te'o took to his Twitter account to deliver a message that showed his investment of the future of the program as well.
"@AlexAnzalone_24 rep that number! I know you will rep it the right way...the way it's meant to be worn! #5 #lineageofgreatness," he tweeted.
Minutes before that, Te'o tweeted, "I think I might have started something special at ND."
The connection between All-American linebacker and high school linebacker started when Te'o sat down with Anzalone and his parents for 45 minutes on his last visit to Notre Dame. Anzalone said Te'o passed on bits of wisdom, opening up about things he hadn't even told the coaching staff, including why he came to Notre Dame, what the university means to him and his decision to return for his senior year.
Anzalone left that conversation with the feeling that Te'o truly cared about the high school linebacker.
With intentions on enrolling early, the 6-foot-2, 232- pound Anzalone remains a football season and a semester away from joining the Irish in South Bend. And if previous examples of Anzalone's vast improvements stay true, Anzalone will be well on his way to making No. 5 a well-worn jersey at Notre Dame for another four years.
Evolution into a star LB
Anzalone once thought that his future in football would be as a defensive back. Hard to blame a kid for thinking that when he played at 6-2 and 165 pounds as sophomore at Wyomissing (Pa.) Area High School.
At that point, Anzalone decided his passion for football was strong enough to undergo a complete body change in an effort to become a better football player. Anzalone and his father knew exactly where to go to start a workout and nutrition plan.
Just five minutes from the Anzalone house trainer John Schaeffer runs Winning Factor Sports Sciences with a client list that has included Olympic champion speed skater Apolo Ohno and Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy.
After talking to the Anzalones about goals and the dedication it would require to add weight, they decided that because of Alex's 6-2 frame, he could add 40 pounds of good weight in a year's time.
"We talk to the parents as well as the kid because it's a real team effort to take a kid from one level and go into two or three levels higher," Schaeffer said. "It involves nutrition and consistency and timing and work effort and ethics as far as the work effort. He had it all. He had the family behind him. He had all the bases to work with, it was just a matter of putting the package together, getting busy with it."
The results started to show quickly and Anzalone was adding about a pound a week. His daily diet of six meals required a regimented dedication to eating the right foods at the right time -- eggs, oatmeal and fruit in the morning, a mid-morning snack, chicken or fish for lunch, a snack after school, chicken or fish for dinner and a late-night snack. Snacks weren't based on hunger. Fruits, vegetables and protein became the constant menu du jour.
"My dad was mainly the one who I relied on to help me out with eating everything," Anzalone said. "Sometimes he would have to force-feed me. I think one time I threw up. It was pretty intense what I had to do to get where I wanted to."
As his trainer, Schaeffer could see Anzalone had all the motivation he needed within himself.