Is Morelli the best QB in the country?

The debate as to who will be the top signal-caller in the class of 2004 has already begun. Some think Grand Prairie (TX) QB Rhett Bomar is the top guy. Others think either Chad Henne of West Lawn (PA) or Xavier Lee of Daytona Beach (FL) Seabreeze is the best at his position. However, Pitt Insiders will go out on a limb and give their reasons why Anthony Morelli should get the top nod.

According to Student Sports, Penn Hills' (PA) Anthony Morelli outperformed all of the quarterbacks invited to the Elite 11, including last year's top thrower Kyle Wright. Rumor has it that Anthony looked even sharper than camp counselor Carson Palmer, who was the number one selection in this past April's NFL draft.

"We had Morelli as a ball boy at the Student Sports Elite 11 camp last summer and his arm strength and accuracy compared favorably to just about any quarterback at the camp," Greg Biggins of Student Sports said. "Morelli has great arm strength and throws a nice tight ball every time. He can make all the throws and moves very well in and outside of the pocket."

After watching the highlights from his sophomore and junior seasons, we are in total agreement.

Morelli looks more like a polished NFL quarterback than a high school junior. It is very difficult to find any flaws in his game. His footwork and mechanics are nearly perfect. He does all the little things right, plus his arm and release have to be the best in the country. Morelli doesn't do anything to tip off the defense. He doesn't pat the ball or stare down a receiver. He sets up in the pocket quickly and knows when to step up with the pressure. Most high school quarterbacks that have a live arm like him haven't learned how to put touch on the ball yet. That's not the case here; Morelli puts plenty of air on the deep ball and on his fades. He also has nice touch on screen passes. He throws with an overhand delivery and his ball has a tight spiral to it. We rarely saw him force the ball or make any poor decisions. If there's a flaw to his game, it might be that he's not quite the athlete as some of the other top quarterbacks. That doesn't matter much because the rest of his game puts him over the top.

Despite playing in a run-orientated system, the 6-4, 210-pounder passed for almost 1,900 yards and 24 touchdowns with only 9 interceptions as a junior. He averaged over 24 yards per completion.

According to sources close to Morelli's recruitment, the hometown Pittsburgh Panthers are in the lead for his services followed by Florida State. Anthony and his father Gary are very close and distance could be a factor.

No offense to the other top quarterbacks - Rhett Bomar, Chad Henne, Xavier Lee, Cornelius Ingram, and Drew Weatherford - Morelli is a rare player that doesn't come along very often. It will be scary to see what he can do in a pass-oriented system surrounded by top-notch talent. Some have compared Morelli to another Italian-American from Pittsburgh. Miami Dolphin fans know whom I'm talking about.

Dave Peters

Panther More Top Stories