Though he may be a small school product, Anthony Vernaglia is still a big
time prospect and an excellent student, and coaches are salivating at his
prospects. Prepping at Orange Lutheran (
The son of a former Penn State player, Vernaglia recently tripped to State College, Pennsylvania, which he said was an "incredible" experience.
"It was a great experience for me, going with my dad, having him show me around," Vernaglia said. "I got to meet Joe Paterno, and it was awesome. He is just like any other coach, full of energy, you wouldn't know from talking with him that he is a legend."
The trip was good enough for him to put Penn State near the top of his favorites, a list that also includes Virginia, UCLA and USC. He has also heard from Stanford.
About going to a school far away from home, Vernaglia said, "I have a whole lot of family on the East Coast, so going out there wouldn't be a problem. I think my dad would like me to go [to Penn State], but he has been great and just tells me I have to live with the decision for the next four years so to make a good one and he is there to help me with it."
Vernaglia also has visited Virginia unofficially, and enjoyed the campus, the strength of the academics, and the coaching staff. "Coach Groh let me try on his Super Bowl ring, so that was real cool."
Locally, UCLA and USC are vying for his services, and may be his mom's favorites. "At first, she wanted me to stay on the west coast, then when we visited back east, she said she wanted me to go to the east coast. But then we went to UCLA a little while back, and she said she wanted me to stay out here."
Vernaglia, who attended UCLA's spring game on Saturday, is very intrigued by the UCLA coaching staff, and by the campus itself. "Coach Dorrell is awesome. He is an ex-wide receiver so we have a lot in common. I like Coach Kerr also. The campus looks like a lot of east coast schools, with all the bricks. I really liked it."
When it comes to his college position, Vernaglia plays wide receiver and linebacker for Orange Lutheran, but most college coaches project him as a strong safety at the next level, a position he wouldn't mind playing. "Most are saying that I will play a strong safety, and that would be cool," he said.
He gives a lot of credit to his coaching staff, who have been very instrumental in his recruitment. "Being from a small school, our coaches work extra hard to get our name out there. My coaches have a done a great job getting videos, highlight films and our names out there. They really look out for us, and they will tell it to college coaches straight. They talk to a lot of big coaches, and have a lot of experience with D-I coaches."
Vernaglia plans to take about two official visits, but would like to make his decision early so he can concentrate on his senior year. "We made it to the CIF Finals my freshman and sophomore year, and lost in the semis last year. I'm getting a freaking ring this year."
Vernaglia is fully qualified with a 4.01 GPA and a 1200 SAT score. He is trying to go to either the UCLA or USC Camp, and the Nike Camp at Stanford May 10th.