When Pittsburgh (Pa.) Penn Hills quarterback Anthony Morelli committed to Pitt back in the summer, it looked like a perfect fit.
The local boy who grew up idolizing former Panther Dan Marino would follow in his footsteps and lead Pittsburgh to greatness.
It sounded good at the time but things don’t always play out in storybook fashion and that proved to be the case with Morelli as the strong armed signal has decided to make a change and has signed with in-state rival Penn State.
Here are the reasons why, according to his father.
“It really was a lot of things,” Greg Morelli, Anthony’s father said. “People are making a big deal about the Army All-American but that wasn’t it, that was just the thing that kind of got the ball rolling. I always wanted Anthony to wait because I was so unsure about the Big East and just felt it was in Anthony’s best interest to see what happened during the season.
“The thing with the Army game where Anthony was passed over, in hindsight, that was our fault. Tom Lemming called us while we were at the EA SPORTS Elite 11 and when we came home, we had over 30 messages and just never called him back. I’ll take the blame for that. What was frustrating was having Pitt say they were going to try and figure out what happened and they kept calling us saying they don’t know how he got passed over but were going to get to the bottom of it. They said they didn’t know how it happened or who to contact and then we turn on the game and see Bob Palko coaching the team.
“How hard would it have been to just call Bob up since he was on the staff. I’m not saying they should have put Anthony out there but don’t say you’re trying to figure out what happened when all you needed to do was talk to Palko whose son plays for you already. That really had nothing to do with Anthony not going to Pitt but it did get us to open our eyes a little and look around at other schools. That’s when Penn State came in.
“I don’t want this to be about what Pitt did wrong, it’s more about what Penn State did right. Like I said, the whole situation with the Big East always concerned me. I still don’t think it was resolved and I still don’t know if they’ll be part of the BCS in the future. They brought in some schools that are not the big time college programs that Anthony wants to play in front of. He’s a big time player who loves the big college atmosphere, how can you beat playing in front of 110,000 every home game and playing in a conference like the Big 10. Penn State is on T.V every weekend and just being there on his official visit, it was an amazing experience to be a part of.
“The tradition at Penn State is amazing and just looking at some of the players that have come through the program is incredible. We like Coach Harris and the coaches at Pitt but the stability there just doesn’t look that great. Their strength coach Dave Kennedy, who Anthony loved, left to go to Nebraska and then Dino Babers, the running back coach left for UCLA. We’ve even heard talk that if Pitt doesn’t win eight games next year in what will be a rebuilding year for them, he could be on the hot seat. That really worried us to be honest.
“Another big reason for choosing Pitt was because we knew Anthony could play early there but the depth chart at Penn State is probably even more wide open. They’re bringing in several quarterbacks in this year’s class but Anthony isn’t worried about that. He’ll compete with anyone but was told he’ll have a strong chance to come in and play early and that’s all he wants, a chance to compete for the job right away.
“When Anthony took his visit to Penn State, I think that about sealed it. The coaches are so first class and sitting up in one of the suites at the stadium there and looking down at just the immense size of it, I was awestruck. This past Saturday night, the last night coaches were allowed to come in, Coach Paterno and his son were in from about 8:00-11:30. I’ve always had concerns about Coach Paterno’s age but he’s one of the sharpest guys I’ve ever talked with. We sat there and talked Xs and Os all night and it was unbelievable. Coach Paterno is a legend and said he wants Anthony to be his last legacy at the school. He promised to stay as long as Anthony is there and we believe him. He said he’s going to ride it out with Anthony so we’re excited to be a part of his program.
“As a father, something that excites me is their academic center is right there next to the football facilities. Coach Paterno has always stressed academics with all of his players and I know he’ll push Anthony as well. It’s been a crazy ride for us. These last three weeks, I can’t even tell you how many people have called us. It’s gotten so bad we’ve had to stay at my sister’s house a lot of the time just to avoid all the calls that were coming through. I know I’m glad it’s all over and I think Penn State is a perfect fit for Anthony, and he can’t wait to get there in the fall.”