Here Come The Panthers

It wasn't long ago that All-American quarterback Anthony Morelli told us he had no interest in staying local and wanted to leave the area. As we always say in recruiting, things can change fast and that's what has happened as the hometown Pitt Panthers have made up a lot of ground for the talented signal caller.

Anthony Morelli, 6-4, 210 pounds was recently invited to the EA SPORTS Elite 11 after attending the camp as a ball boy last year. He has the strongest arm of any quarterback we've seen this year and could eventually be the top quarterback in this year's class when all is said and done.

Morelli has been pretty consistent with his top five to seven schools since this past February although the order of the group has changed around a bit. For some time, UCLA was the top school on Morelli's list and he said he had a great time on an unofficial visit to the campus last month.

"I think if UCLA was closer to home, he would have already committed there," Morelli's father Greg said. "They're recruiting him harder than anyone and he really likes the coaches there. At the same time, the distance is a small factor and that's the one school in Anthony's top five that I would probably have to move to in order to see him play. They're still really high on his list and among his top two or three no doubt about that but I don't think he's leaning anywhere right now."

Florida State, Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame are the others in Morelli's top five and all have a solid shot. The Noles have really come on strong as of late and Morelli is very excited about the opportunity to play early there.

"I think I could red-shirt and then compete for the starting job right away," Morelli said. "I'm going to take an unofficial visit there later this summer and I'm looking forward to seeing the campus, talking with the coaches and seeing what the school is all about."

Morelli will also take unofficial visits to Ohio State and Notre Dame although the Irish are still the one school on his list that have yet to offer.

"I'm not sure if they're slow playing him or what," Greg Morelli said. "They told him he's their top guy right now but they want to wait until after their camp to offer anyone. Chase Patton and Brian Brohm will both be there and I know they're high on both kids so we'll see what happens."

No one has made up more ground than Pitt. At the Nike Camp at Penn State back in April, Morelli didn't even mention the Panthers and said he wanted to leave the area. Now Morelli is planning to attend Pitt's camp June 20-21 and talked to head coach Walt Harris on phone for over an hour earlier in the week.

"I'm not sure what changed but Pitt is right there now," Greg Morelli said. "I think Anthony likes the opportunity to play there and maybe staying close to home is something he's starting to think about. Pitt offered him as a junior last year and told him if he committed, they wouldn't take a quarterback in last year's class or this year's. I think Anthony is interested in what they do with Tyler Palko and how early would he be able to play there. Early playing time is a big issue to Anthony I know that much."

We always felt that UCLA's best shot at Morelli was if he made a decision fairly quickly after taking his unofficial visit to Westwood. The longer things played out, the tougher that would be and with the hometown school now right up near the top, and Florida State coming on strong, the race for the talented signal caller looks to be wide open.

Greg Biggins

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