Vernaglia: West or East?

One of our favorite players in the class of 2004 is Orange Lutheran's (Calif.) multi-purpose star <b>Anthony Vernaglia</b>. Not only is Vernaglia one of the nation's top players but a great kid off the field who has a pretty good idea of where his recruitment is going...

The Orange Lutheran program has long been one of the hidden gems in Southern California. The Lancers put out quality players every year but no one has seen their stock blow up quite like Anthony Vernaglia.

At 6-4, 218 pounds, Vernaglia could end up at a number of positions in college. Some like him at wide receiver, some at safety and others at linebacker. With his frame and ability to get a lot bigger and stronger in college, it wouldn't shock us if he was given a shot as a rush end although outside linebacker is where we think he has the most upside.

"I really don't have a preference," Vernaglia said. "I've been playing wide receiver longer so that's the position I know best but I like defense too. A lot of schools are just recruiting me as an athlete and that's fine with me as well. I just want to play and get on the field as fast as possible."

To get an idea of Vernaglia's athleticism, he's the strongest player at the school with a power clean of 290 pounds. He routinely runs in the 4.4 range and has incredible leaping ability. The Lancers, although a small school program routinely play one of the toughest schedules in the Southern Section every year. They'll open with Mater Dei in week one next season and will also play Div I schools Long Beach Millikan and Marina. Vernaglia will be the top athlete on the field in every game they play and it won't be close.

As many know, Vernaglia's father Kip played at Penn State and the Nittany Lions were the first school to offer a scholarship. Soon they were joined by just about every other school in the Pac 10 plus Virginia.

"I really didn't expect all the offers," Vernaglia said. "It has made my decision a lot harder than I thought it would be. Right now, I basically have two decisions. One, what coast do I want to play on and two, what school do I want to play for. It's Penn State and Virginia in the east and UCLA and USC out west.

"At this point, I really have no idea on either decision. I've visited all four and feel very comfortable at all four. I think the way it will break down for me is first, I'll figure out if I want to leave home or not. Once I do that, I'll be able to choose between the two schools from that region."

Vernaglia was born and raised in Southern California, loves to surf and wakeboard and is described by those who know him as a SoCal kid through and through.

"I think it will be tough for him leave home," Kip Vernaglia, Anthony's father said. "He loves the warm weather out here and the beach, that whole lifestyle. I would love to see him go to Penn State but I'm not pressuring him at all. I also think it would be great if he stayed home so we could see him play all the time so I think it's a win-win either way."

Vernaglia broke down all four schools and what he likes about each of them.

"At both Penn State and Virginia, I love the small town atmosphere and how passionate the fans are about football," Vernaglia said. "The city shuts down on game day. Plus both Coach Paterno (Penn St head coach) and Coach Groh (UVA head coach) are great coaches that I get along well with. I mean Coach Paterno is a legend and Coach Groh really knows what he's doing as well.

"With USC, I love Coach Carroll and the rest of the staff. The program is really rolling right now and they're definitely headed in the right direction. It's big time football there and it's a good academic school as well. I mean how can you not like Coach Carroll, he's so passionate and has so much energy.

"At UCLA, the campus is incredible and I like the new staff there. Coach Embree (WR coach) is the one recruiting me and I really get along well with him. I like Coach Dorrell a lot. You can tell he knows what he's doing. They're recruiting me strictly at receiver and both of those two have a great background for grooming receivers.

"USC was a little ahead of UCLA prior to going to their Junior Day but UCLA made up a lot of ground. My mom really fell in love with the place and wanted me to commit to them right there. She just really loved the campus and Coach Dorrell. I think they're about dead even right now. Same with Penn State and Virginia, they're all equal. It would be so much easier if there was one staff I didn't like or if I could find something wrong about one of the schools but I can't, they're all great.

"Right now, I think there's a good chance I could commit early or I could decide to take maybe two of my official visits. Either way, I plan on making an early decision and won't drag this out. I'm going to Notre Dame later this month to check them out and that will likely be my last unofficial visit. I'm also planning to go to one day each of USC and UCLA's four-day camp this month. It should be a busy month for me but I'm enjoying everything so far and I'm looking forward to the process playing out and making my decision when I'm ready to do so."

Just as impressive as Vernaglia's on the field exploits, academically, he's carrying a 4.0 GPA and has scored a 1200 on the SAT.

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