Rivals Rewind: Anthony Morelli
Back during the conclusion of 2003 and the beginning of 2004, five-star quarterback Anthony Morelli had the attention of all Pennsylvania recruiting fans.
The Pittsburgh-area product originally committed to the Pittsburgh Panthers before a last minute change-of-heart swayed him to rival Penn State.
Now, 11 years later, Morelli looked back at his recruiting process.
2004 PRO-STYLE QBS
"I don't think I would have changed much," he said. "They only thing I think I regret is verbally committing to Pitt and then changing my mind. However, I didn't commit knowing I would change my mind. Things changed with the coaching situation at Pitt and I didn't feel like that school was the best option for me."
One of the highlights of Morelli's recruiting process was his interaction with Penn State coach Joe Paterno.
"Coach Paterno was a great recruiter," he said. "One of the best recruiting memories with Coach Paterno was when he came to Pittsburgh for my home visit. We had the visit at my aunt's house and ate a great Italian meal together."
While Morelli held offers from many of the elite programs in the country, the push to stay in-state was definitely noticeable.
"I think, no matter what state you are in, there's always a bit of a push to stay in state when you are a top recruit," he said. "When I finally took my visit to Penn State, I realized what an awesome university it was. I loved the atmosphere, the facilities were great, the stadium was amazing and the overall game day atmosphere was the best. The other thing was I just really liked the campus, the college town itself. I think that's a very important thing to consider when choosing a college since it will be your 'home' for the next four-plus years."
Morelli said that there are some differences for players who are currently being recruited, but also a great deal of similarities.
"When I went through the recruiting process, social media hadn't gone crazy yet so yes, the process would be completely different," he said. "However, I feel like my phone was constantly ringing. They were allowed to call more back in the day and the pressure to constantly talk was a lot. Between magazines, newspapers, phone calls, etc. I had to deal with lots of exposure. I just feel today it would be a different type of exposure. This generation is different; more social media and probably less talking on the phone."
Morelli acknowledged that aside from dealing with his own recruiting process, he also paid attention to what was going on with other elite recruits.
"It's important to pay attention to where other recruits are going," he said. "I paid more attention to what quarterbacks were going where. I needed to know who I would be up against for the job."
One specific prospect who he definitely paid attention to and developed a natural rivalry with was Class of 2004 five-star quarterback Chad Henne, who also played his high school ball in Pennsylvania.
"Since Chad and I were both top quarterback recruits, we always had to compete against each other," he said. "We competed at the Nike Combine in State College. We also played in the Big 33 Game together. Every time we met up it was always very competitive, but also a lot of fun. I enjoyed the competition."
Now more than a decade removed from his recruitment, Morelli shared some advice to players in the Class of 2016 and beyond.
"My advice would be to just enjoy each and every day of the recruiting process," Morelli said. "It's a really awesome experience to have all the major colleges wanting you to come to their school, to represent them on national TV, week after week."
Aside from enjoying the process, Morelli also realizes that it is very important to keep a level head throughout.
"Don't take anything for granted and make as many connections as possible along the way," he said. "College football is a business. Please understand that coaches are going to tell you everything you want to hear. You need to look after yourself because no one else will."
Not many recruits get tagged with the five-star label each recruiting season, which brings a significant amount of pressure.
"I feel like I earned every one of my stars with my play on the field in high school," said Morelli. "Yes, it added more pressure, but I didn't look at it like that. I looked at it as an accomplishment and a step in the right direction to reach my football goals."
After his days at Penn State, Morelli had a brief stop in the NFL before playing in both the Arena League and the United Football League. Currently, he is working at X-Factor Sports Performance & QB Academy in Westfield, Indiana, where he hopes to properly prepare the next generation of quarterbacks for the future.
"I just really love the game of football. I love the quarterback position," he said. "When I was done playing, I decided I wanted to stay involved in the game and decided to open a QB Academy. I want to help young guys as much as possible so one day they can hopefully experience what I got to experience during my career. I feel like I've got a lot to share and teach the young guys because I have been there and done that. I've played at the highest level, I have learned from my mistakes and I can help them develop into a great quarterback and reach their goals."
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