Notre Dame has made Pittsburgh (Pa.) Central Catholic standout 2024 linebacker Anthony Speca a top priority in his class, which helps explain why the talented sophomore linebacker has already been on campus three times.
Speca is already planning a return this spring, checking out the Marcus Freeman era first hand.
Freeman and the staff have already made an outstanding early impression on Speca. His admiration for the Irish can’t be understated.
“I love Notre Dame,” Speca stated emphatically. “From the jump they’ve treated me like family and have always kept in touch. It's become a comfortable environment for me.”
Making that type of early impression on a player of Speca’s caliber is important. Despite just finishing up his sophomore campaign, Speca has already gained attention as one of the country's best linebackers in his class. That is why programs like Notre Dame, Michigan, Penn State, Pittsburgh and Colorado have already offered him a scholarship.
The 6-3, 220-pounder is fresh off of a standout 2021 campaign, pacing the 9-3 Vikings with 70 tackles despite only playing in nine contests. Along with 2022 Notre Dame signee Donovan Hinish, Speca helped Central Catholic to a playoff berth for their eighteenth consecutive seasons.
While Coach Freeman has had a huge impact on his recruitment so far, it has been a collaborative effort. The support staff also deserves their kudos.
“Chad Bowden has been my main recruiter recently and he’s great at his job," explained Speca. "I’m really close with the staff. Excited to see who takes over as the full time linebackers coach, although I know Coach Freeman will still have his hands all over it.”
“For Coach Bowden, Coach (Nick) Lezynski and Coach Freeman personally, it could not have gone better,” Speca continued. “I think Freeman is gonna do a great job, he’s a fantastic person as well as a coach.”
The relationship is clearly there. From a culture value perspective and academically, it makes a lot of sense. Schematically speaking, Speca can also see his fit - potentially into multiple roles.
“I see myself in Coach Freeman’s defense playing at the MIKE and maybe some WILL,” Speca said. “I’ve sat and talked football with him, he almost knows too much about the game.”
The Irish are clearly a big player here. It seems, however, that Speca doesn’t want to rush a decision. For now, it’s about doing his due diligence and enjoying the process.
“As of right now I have equal interest in every school,” Speca stated. “I think this spring/summer will help me really pick and choose who I want to focus more of my time on down the road. My decision will come sometime during or after my junior season.”
This wouldn’t be Notre Dame’s first victory of a highly regarded Central Catholic standout. Most recently the Hinish brothers (Kurt in 2017, Donovan in 2022) were alums who went on to careers in South Bend.
If the decision were made today, it’s hard to imagine that Anthony Speca would not be a member of the Irish class. So early in the process, however, things could change quickly.
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