A Big Weekend

Two of the best football prospects in the nation, quarterback <b>Anthony Morelli</b> and running back <b>Andrew Johnson</b>, will visit UCLA unofficially this weekend, and it could lead to a potentially huge recruiting coup for Karl Dorrell...

One of the most highly-ranked quarterbacks in the country, Anthony Morelli, 6-4, 210, Pittsburgh (Penn.) Penn Hills, will visit UCLA unofficially this weekend.

He'll be joined during the weekend by his friend, one of the best running back prospects in the country, Andrew Johnson, 5-11, 200, Pittsburgh (Penn.) North Hills.

Suffice it to say, it's a big weekend for UCLA football recruiting. Morelli and Johnson have both said that UCLA is either their leader, or among their top two. Morelli has made indications that he could possibly verbally commit if his unofficial visit goes well. Johnson hasn't been as forthcoming, indicating that he'd want to wait to see how the Big Ten conference situation shakes out before making a decision, but has said that if Morelli decided to go to UCLA it could greatly influence his decision.

At the Penn State Nike Camp in late April, Johnson put on a show, winning the camp's MVP award. He clocked an astounding 4.22 in the 40, a 4.11 shuttle time, jumped 36 inches in the vertical and did 15 reps on the bench. He then wowed everyone in the position drills. "He's the best back I've worked with at any camp so far this year," Nike camp running back coach Michael Fletcher (former Oregon All-Pac 10 safety) said.

Johnson said at the camp, "I really wanted to be named the Camp MVP before the camp started. I was actually hoping to share it with my boy Anthony Morelli who I think is the best quarterback in the country."

Morelli had just as impressive a day at Nike as Johnson. He tested very well, running 4.25 shuttle, jumping 30 inches in the vertical and putting up 18 reps on the bench.

On his performance in the drills, Brian Gold of the Pittsburgh site on TheInsiders.com (Pitt Insiders) said after the camp that Morelli was the star of the day. He said, "I've never before heard a crowd gasp when watching a high school quarterback during passing drills until Sunday. Morelli threw the ball hard with a tight spiral and was very accurate all day long. His release is just unbelievable. He throws the ball with such velocity that it is really something to see...He is a fantastic talent and whoever ends up with his services will be getting an outstanding QB. If there is a better high school QB in the country, I would like to see him."

Greg Biggins of TheInsiders.com, Student Sports, and who manages the Nike Camps across the country, said, "He has the strongest arm of any quarterback we've seen this year."

Nike camps quarterback coach Bob Johnson had praise, too. "Anthony has a huge arm and had a good day. He's definitely an elite player and I like him a lot. He's very accurate with the ball and is a tough kid. He has gotten a lot bigger since last year has a lot of upside."

Biggins said that if UCLA got Morelli and Johnson, it could be the biggest coup in UCLA recruiting in a long while. "Put it this way, there isn't anyone who's close to as good as they in the west at their position. Morelli is probably the most gifted quarterback UCLA has recruited in a long time. And when's the last time UCLA got an explosive, homerun, speed back like Johnson? And they're both very good kids, good academically, and best friends."

Andrew Johnson, when asked about schools soon after the Nike camp, said, "Right now, UCLA and Pitt are my top two. Pitt is the local school, one of the first to offer me and they didn't sign a running back last year. With UCLA, I've always liked them, they have a good combination of athletics and academics and they always have a great track program. That's one big edge they have over Pitt because I'll definitely be running track in college. Anthony and I talk almost every day about going to school together and he likes UCLA and Pitt, too."

About his visit to UCLA: " I'm going to visit UCLA. We have our state track meet May 23-24. I'll be leaving Saturday night as soon as the meet is over to head to Los Angeles. Anthony (Morelli) will already be out there so he'll be able to come and get me at the airport. Then the next morning, we'll meet with Coach Dorrell and spend the day there. I'm hoping there's a lot of current players around to talk with, too, and it would be great to go out with them that night to see what it's like there"

Biggins said that getting these two players to visit unofficially this early is a huge coup for UCLA. "I think this unofficial visit is extremely significant for UCLA," Biggins said. "Because UCLA leads for both players and both players want to commit early. If things go well, it's not out of the realm of possibility that they could commit early to UCLA. Anthony has had UCLA as his top school for a while, loves California and has never been to UCLA."

Johnson, when talking about his visit to UCLA, said, "My mom really likes Coach Dorrell a lot and I talk to Coach Bieniemy (RB coach) all the time. I'm looking forward to the visit. I've never been out to Southern California before so it should be a nice eye opener for me and will go a long ways in helping me with my decision when I'm ready to make it."

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