A Pittsburgh product, Morelli is one of only three Big Ten quarterbacks among the 35 Davey O'Brien Award candidates and one of four candidates from Big Ten schools among the 35 Manning Award candidates.
The 6-4, 231-pound Morelli is entering his second season as the Nittany Lions' starting signal-caller. Last year, he led Penn State to wins in five of its last six games and broke the school season records for pass completions (208) and attempts (386). His 2,424 passing yards were third-highest on the school season list. Morelli had 11 touchdown passes and eight interceptions and posted the school's seventh-lowest season interception percentage in leading Penn State to a 9-4 record.
A probable candidate for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award as well, Morelli ended the season with a very strong performance, going 14 of 25 for 197 yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions, in directing the 20-10 Outback Bowl win over Tennessee. The former Penn Hills High School All-American threw for a career-high 281 yards and two scores in a win at Minnesota and had three scoring strikes against Akron, becoming the first Nittany Lion quarterback in the Big Ten era with a trio of touchdown passes in their first career start.
The O'Brien Award is the oldest and most prestigious award in the nation for collegiate quarterbacks and is named in honor of the late Davey O'Brien, the All-American and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback for Texas Christian University, who led the Horned Frogs to the 1938 national championship. The O'Brien Award has been presented annually since 1981 to the nation's top quarterback.
To honor of the college football accomplishments of Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning, the Allstate Sugar Bowl created the Manning Award. First presented following the 2004 season, it is the only quarterback award that takes into consideration the candidates' bowl performance.