Vernaglia Is Still Just A High School Senior

After a whirlwind of rumors and predictions on where he would commit to, Orange Lutheran Linebacker and Wide Receiver Anthony Vernaglia is finally able to settle in after all the recruiting hoopla and focus on his senior season. Irish Eyes caught up with him catching a little bit of relaxation over the Labor Day weekend to get a more personal view of this future Notre Dame Student athlete.

Knowing that a lot of people were vying for the 6'3", 215lb athlete from the football hotbed of Southern California, Irish Eyes asked what his life was like, being such a hotly recruited football player. "It was pretty crazy around the house," Anthony said. "People were calling left and right and I was getting tons of mail."

Grateful that the process was over, Anthony was just happy to have the burden of the process over and be committed to Notre Dame. "I was excited, relieved, and felt like I was happy that I wasn't gonna be stressed out anymore," Anthony confessed. "But I was more excited then anything."

Though the decision to play at such a high profile school like Notre Dame can bring about a lot of notoriety for a high school, Irish Eyes asked if life as he knows it has changed in anyway. "People say, ‘congratulations' a lot," he confessed. "A lot of people I don't even know are talking to me. They know who I am, but I have no clue who they are. Just random people. Like some people that I know that I don't talk to or necessarily hang out with or anything, will come up and pretend they are my best friend. It's pretty cool, I like it… But I'm just focusing on high school."

Even though he receives all this newfound attention, Anthony keeps firmly rooted in who he is as a person. "I just see myself as a normal guy," he said. "I'm more used to seeing other people in the paper and magazine. You never really get used to it, seeing your name everywhere. But it's been cool. It's just that I don't really know where all this comes from. Some people know stuff that I haven't even thought of yet. It's weird."

Fortunately, Anthony has his father, a Penn State graduate and former football player, and others close to him to help prepare him for the next phase of his life. "He just tells me to keep working hard and don't let it get to your head," Anthony said. "And all my coaches do a very good job of keeping me grounded."

Since he is now committed to become part of the Notre Dame family, Irish Eyes wondered when he would make an official visit to meet his new relatives. "The USC – Notre Dame game," he said.

But with everyone talking about him, Anthony's thoughts are firmly on the upcoming football season, especially the opening game against Mater Dei High School lead by newest Notre Dame recruit Brandon Nicolas. "We've been working hard preparing for it," he said. "We've got all our schemes, plays and packages in and practicing hard, because they are a very good team, so we're gonna go in and play the best that we can. We got some guys coming backing, so I'm pretty sure they're going to be able play with them."

With such a big opening game for the two teams, we wondered what Anthony's thoughts were about playing against Brandon Nicolas and if he was good friends with his future teammate. "No, I'm not good friends with him. I've talked to him," he said. "But I can't be friends with him until we've won."

Although Orange Lutheran is a relatively small private school, there schedule is considered tough, even for schools five times their size and Anthony's team has set lofty goals for themselves. "Like I said, we have a ton of guys returning with lots of experience on the team," he said. "So we expect big things, but that's just how our program is. We just have high standards."

Even though his team and he are very serious about football, Anthony's teammates still find time to joke about his future plans. "The guy that gives me the most problem is our Middle Linbacker, Brad Wagner," he said. "He's a USC, in the blood type guy. So he always says I'm cursed and everything… The guy bleeds cardinal and gold."

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