|40-yard dash:||4.7 seconds|
|Hometown/School:||Penn Hills HS, Pittsburgh, PA|
Anthony Morelli's commitment to Penn State put the finishing touches on a recruiting class rated as the 12th best in the country by The Insiders prior to his signing. Morelli originally committed to the University of Pittsburgh in late August but re-opened his recruiting in January. LionNews caught up to an exhausted Morelli on his dying cell phone late on National Letter of Intent Day and had the chance to ask him a few questions about his decision.
We started off by asking Anthony if he had anything to say to Pitt fans regarding the process and how events unfolded.
"I have to make this decision. It's a big-time decision in my life. I'm sorry I committed early because it really wasn't the place for me to go and I hope there's no hard feelings." So why did he commit to Pitt in the first place? Anthony told us, "Coach Harris. That's the only reason. I went there, because of him. I don't think that's the right thing to do, to commit to the school because of the coach."
So why Penn State?
"The education part of it and I like the campus."
The summer of 2003 was an eventful one as Pennsylvania was home to two of the most highly recruited quarterbacks in the country (Chad Henne being the other) and both announced their college choice before the end of summer. We asked Morelli if Penn State had recruited him hard before the commitments.
"They did (come on strong) in the beginning a lot and then they got involved with Chad. They thought they had him and Pitt thought they had me. It went on from there and things didn't work out. All this happened for a reason."
After the holidays, Morelli and his father went public with the second thoughts Anthony was having about his Pitt commitment. We asked him how Penn State entered the picture.
"I started taking calls from all the different coaches. I was taking phone calls from them (Penn State) and I called them a couple of times. It was back and forth." Did Morelli initiate the contact with Penn State? "Kind of, not really though. I was talking to them before. Whenever I sat down and talked about it, then I gave them a call and told them."
Anthony and his family visited Penn State on January 24th and enjoyed their visit. Penn State got the last in-house visit with the Morellis and Joe Paterno, Jay Paterno and Tom Bradley visited them in Pittsburgh the following weekend. We asked Anthony about the visit and what Joe told him.
"He came over and we had dinner and it was a great time. I really like Joe and I'm happy to play for him. He's just an honest guy. He's upfront. He tells me everything I need to know. He told me I could come in and compete for the starting job. But if I don't get it I'll probably redshirt or maybe even be the backup."
Anthony continued, "He was amazed about my ability to throw the ball. He saw my senior highlight tape and he loved it. He thought I could help him right away."
Did Joe make any assurances about his sticking around?
"As far as I know he's not going anywhere. He's not going to quit. He'll be there until the end I guess." Did Joe promise to be there all four years? "Yeah, he said he's going to be there as long as he can be. God forbid unless something happens to him. Other than that he'll be there. He's going to be there until he can't possibly coach anymore."
Did Joe have anything to say about this year's recruiting class and the future?
"(Penn State has) a great recruiting class and a bunch of great kids. He said this year they're going to have a great year and they'll probably be up there and maybe even win the Big 10 and go from there."
We asked Anthony when he let the coaches know about his decision.
He told us, "I was talking to Coach Harris a couple of days ago and I told him I was just going to announce on Wednesday. I faxed it (the Letter of Intent) over and called them (Penn State) today."
Joe Prokopik, a wide receiver and kicker for Penn Hills and a good friend of Morelli's, will join Anthony at Penn State as a preferred walk-on. As his battery died, we couldn't resist asking Anthony about David Harvey, a junior wide receiver and his favorite target, who will be one of the top WPIAL prospects next season.
"He likes Penn State a lot and I'm going to work on him but I'm not going to pressure him because I know how it is."