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Anthony Vernaglia: So. Cal native knows ND was right choice

Fran Tolan | Thursday, November 15, 2007

Irish outside linebacker Anthony Vernaglia is unsure about why he came to Notre Dame, but he sure is glad he did.

“I don’t know how I ended up here – not in a bad sense but in general, I have no idea,” Vernaglia said.

Coming out of Orange Lutheran High School in southern California, Vernaglia was recruited by several major colleges and almost committed to USC. But after seeing Notre Dame, Vernaglia had a hunch that the school was the right place for him.

“I don’t know how or why [I came here] but out of nowhere I did,” Vernaglia said. “Maybe it had something to do with the academics but as for exactly how or why I have no idea.”

Developing an enmity for Notre Dame’s rival USC was one of the first difficulties Vernaglia encountered.

“I almost went there, so it was pretty hard to turn around and hate them,” he said.

Vernaglia was definitely unsure about the road that lay ahead for him as he entered Notre Dame. In high school, he played a slew of positions including wide receiver, safety and linebacker. But he didn’t know what role he would fill for the Irish.

As a freshman, Vernaglia was listed as a reserve safety and did not see action on the field. But before his sophomore year, he moved to linebacker.

“I was recruited as a receiver by some schools, but I played a lot of things,” Vernaglia said. “[Switching positions] wasn’t my decision, but I guess it worked best for the team.”

In his first year as a full-time linebacker, Vernaglia played five games as a reserve, logging 14:55 of playing time.

The next season, in which the Irish went 9-3, he played in eight games before injuring his knee. Vernaglia said it was difficult to watch his teammates from the sidelines but still enjoyed Notre Dame’s great season.

“After I shredded my knee, I still got to go [to the Fiesta Bowl],” he said. “I didn’t get to play which stunk, but I got to go which was sweet.”

Off the field, Vernaglia said his time at Notre Dame has been all he had hoped for – except for the Indiana weather.

“Every time it snows and rains, I have a lot of regrets,” Vernaglia joked.

On one of the occasions that he did brave the elements, Vernaglia met his current girlfriend.

“I drove her to a party and someone asked if we were together and we weren’t,” Vernaglia said. “But it just worked out.”

And the climate has not prevented the California native from taking advantage of the countless opportunities Notre Dame provides. The business major already has plans to open a clothing company and get his MBA from Notre Dame. Afterward, he said he might finally head to USC for law school.

Even though his future has always been blurry, Vernaglia is eager to see what awaits him after graduation.

“[Notre Dame is] definitely different than what I had planned, but I’m happy about it,” he said. “I’m definitely happy I ended up here; leaving with this great degree is amazing. I’m excited.”