With Robinson the No. 1 QB, Morelli remains upbeat about his future at PSU
It was February 2004 when Anthony Morelli inflamed the passions of Pitt supporters by opting out a verbal commitment to that school and choosing instead to take his considerable quarterback talents to Penn State.
The intervening months have calmed the situation regarding Morelli, the former Penn Hills star, who was back in town for a Penn State fund-raiser Thursday at the Duquesne Club.
“It kind of wore off,” he said of the acrimony. “Everyone around here wanted me to stay home and go to Pitt. But, after a year of being up at Penn State, whenever I come back home, no one really bothers me or says anything to me any more. I think it’s pretty much behind me right now.”
It is what’s ahead that most interests Morelli. Ranked as one of the top quarterbacks in the country coming out of high school, Morelli played sparingly in 2004, completing 5-of-13 passes. Many thought he should have been redshirted instead of burning a year of eligibility for such limited duty.
But Morelli professes no regrets.
“No, not at all,” he said. “I got my feet wet a little bit. I got used to the defenses and the speed difference and stuff like that. I think that’s going to help me in the long run be prepared.”
Morelli comes out of spring drills second on the depth chart behind senior Michael Robinson. Zack Mills was the starter most of last season, but Robinson got three starts at quarterback, played extensively there as well as at wide receiver in other games, and seems poised to get the bulk of the quarterback work in 2005.
Morelli doesn’t expect to be redshirted this year, but that doesn’t prevent rumors from springing up on the message boards, like the one that recently had him transferring to Indiana of the Big Ten, ostensibly over his disappointment with his lot at Penn State.
“I’m not disappointed at all,” Morelli said. “An older guy is in front of me, Michael Robinson, who’s been there for years. He’s a great athlete. But I’m still going to go out there and compete and give it everything I’ve got. Coach told me I’m going to see a lot of playing time, so, hopefully, I will.”
Morelli was stuck mostly with the backups in the Blue-White spring game, and his statistics suffered. He completed a combined 6-of-16 passes for 62 yards with one interception.
“He’s just concentrating on having a good year right now,” said his father, Greg, who was on his way to Kennywood with his son Friday afternoon.
A knock on Morelli is that he has been slow to grasp the Penn State offense, which Joe Paterno felt obliged to address before the spring game.
“He has handled a lot of things quicker than I thought he would,” Paterno had said. “The rap on him was that maybe he wasn’t the smartest kid in the world, which has really been unfortunate, because he has accepted things well and does some things very well.”
Morelli, according to Paterno, “eventually is going to be a great quarterback.”
Time is on the side of Morelli, who will be a sophomore this fall. He still believes it’s possible he could start sometime in 2005.
“If not, then I’m going to have it in my mind that I’m going to be the starter for the years ahead,” he said. “I think I’m ready to pretty much take over, as soon as the coaches let me.”