"It's Notre Dame, Pitt, Tennessee's lingering in there, Iowa is still in the mix I would have to say," Anthony's father, Greg Morelli, said last Wednesday night. "There are a lot of teams that haven't given up at all, really coming at him hard."
"We're going to go to Notre Dame as soon as we can (possibly August 23 and 24) and get a look at that and then he's going to make a decision."
Since the commitment of Chad Henne to Michigan, many Penn State fans have openly questioned the Nittany Lions reluctance to go hard after both Henne and Morelli from the start instead of seemingly focusing all of their efforts on Henne.
"He never really had them in his top 10 and Henne had them as one of his top three or four and we all thought he would go there. They had Anthony right there with him. They offered Anthony a scholarship last October, but when Anthony didn't list them on the internet, they see that stuff."
If Penn State were to attempt to get back into the picture, they would have to unseed the apparent favorite, the hometown Pittsburgh Panthers.
"I think Walt Harris is one of the best guys (developing quarterbacks), plus he's been recruiting my kid for 3 1/2 years. There's a good situation with Palko and Getsy down there. He could get down there and learn the offense in November after the season for 6 months, compete until September and if he didn't feel comfortable, he could redshirt. If not, he has a chance.
"He likes the football facilities, plus he's a local hero around here already. We have a big family too. So, now he's starting to go around the table and he's coming back to them, so you never know."
Although Anthony's relationship with Coach Harris is a huge advantage for Pitt, the campus and the uncertain future of the Big East prove to be concerns for the Morellis. The longer Anthony waits, the more chance some of the other schools have.
"He's getting ansy and wants to do it before the season, before September 1, because the coaches are going to start calling again. His coach doesn't want him to though."
There has been a throng of Penn State fans on internet message boards publicly wondering if the Nittany Lions could pull off a miracle and land the strong-armed Morelli. Is that a possibility or simply a pipedream at this point in time?
"I don't know. All I can tell you is that there have been people going to one school at the ninth hour and the next day it's changed. Anything can happen, but I don't really know. He got played a little bit up there and he didn't really enjoy it. As a parent, all I can tell you is that I do my homework. It was a great quarterback situation up there, I thought, for him or anybody. I thought it was a good situation to play after going in and learning for a year.
"Could Joe Paterno come down here, come in my living room and talk to Anthony--? I don't know what would change. My son knows it was a good quarterback situation. One, it's the Big 10 which is a great thing. The other thing is it's big-time football. It's two hours away, but that's good. It's away, but it's not away. You could get home if you had to, it's perfect. But, the whole situation, what went on, I think that kind of soured it."
Without getting into details, "what went on" was a series of occurrences that made the Morellis feel as though they were playing second fiddle to Chad Henne in the mind of the PSU coaching staff.
Whether or not that was actually the case is unclear. Also unclear was whether or not Anthony ever received a scholarship offer from Penn State.
"He had an offer, but it wasn't an original offer. He has 43 offers in his room. They're all in Fed Ex's, they're all type out from the university letterhead, the whole deal."
"What he has from Penn State last October was from Tom Bradley stating, 'Anthony, you're our guy, you have a scholarship to Penn State University, good luck in your game tonight verses whoever'. It was a hand-written card."
"At that point, they were real high on Anthony. They were at the schools two or three times. This was a year ago. Everything was good with that situation."
Following a disenchanted letter from the Morellis to the Penn State coaching staff, mail from Penn State dwindled. However, Mr. Morelli indicated that they have been receiving more mail from Penn State lately, media guides and the like.
Whether or not that suggests the Nittany Lions are contemplating mounting a late charge for the quarterback, who many deem the top prospect in the nation, remains to be seen. Whether or not it would have any effect is a question many PSU fans, and perhaps the Nittany Lion coaching staff, are wondering.
While admitting that it may be a longshot, Greg Morelli added, "All I know is that he's not committed yet."
"They'd have to contact him and get in his head. I'm going to tell you what I'm going to do. I'm not going to let him commit early. I don't want him to commit early right now, unless it starts being too much of a burden in September with them calling again. I know by the 15th of May, we had had it. It's overwhelming."
Obviously, during the conversation with Anthony's father, the subject of Chad Henne's commitment to Michigan came up.
"I give Henne a lot of credit. He's doing what he wants to do. All I'm saying is that I think Penn State would've treated him great and I think the situation there was a positive one as far as playing time. Michael Robinson will be a junior when he gets there. If he redshirts, he (Robinson) will be a senior. He (Robinson) is an athlete first of all and his role's going to be more of an athlete this year. Zack will be gone. He'll be a senior and then he'll be gone if he redshirts. He could go in there and start for 3 years, maybe four. That's why you can never say it's out of the question with a situation like that."
Penn State presents an excellent opportunity for a quarterback prospect. The past two signing days have come and gone without the Nittany Lions signing a true signal caller. They have no verbal commitments from quarterback prospects so far this year. As it stands right now, the Nittany Lions will have zero scholarship quarterbacks in 2006.
If Morelli, or any other quarterback entering his senior year, signs with Penn State in February, the only upperclassmen they will be battling for the starting job in their redshirt sophomore year will be walkons (barring a transfer QB which at Penn State is rarer than Haley's comet). An opportunity like this at a school that would draw 100,000 fans for a game against my church touch football team is unheard of.
In 2002, PSU averaged 107,239 per home game and broke the NCAA record for total season attendance when 1,247,707 fans watched the Nittany Lions in person. The schedule in 2006? How about on the road against Notre Dame, Ohio State, Minnesota, Purdue and Wisconsin, and at home verses Northwestern, Michigan, Illinois and Michigan State. Is this a tough sell? It shouldn't have been. We'll see.
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