On Penn State's third play from scrimmage in the 2006 season-opener against Akron, Anthony Morelli stepped back for his first pass as the Nittany Lions' starter and threw a picture-perfect 42-yard scoring strike to Deon Butler to begin a successful day and season for the record-breaking quarterback. The vastly talented and athletic Morelli worked hard and patiently waited for his opportunity to take the reins of the Penn State offense and has developed into a strong, confident and poised leader with many skills. Morelli did not have the luxury of stepping into the starting role behind a veteran offensive line, as Levi Brown was the only returning starter up front and at tight end entering the 2006 season. Injuries also forced four lineup changes within the O-Line during the year, limiting the unit's critical continuity, as the Lions faced three teams ranked in the Top 15 nationally in total and scoring defense in Big Ten play. Morelli, though, remained positive and confident, improving and growing as a leader in guiding Penn State to nine wins, including five in its last six games, and a New Year's Day bowl victory. The former Penn Hills HS All-American has excellent size and instincts, a powerful and accurate arm and quickly took command in the huddle last year. His first pass and game, throwing three touchdown passes, were the initial indicators of what would develop into a record-breaking season. His 208 completions and 386 pass attempts broke Wally Richardson's school season marks of 193 and 335, respectively, from 1995. Morelli's 2,424 passing yards were good for third place on the Penn State season list. He was 208-of-386 (53.9) for 2,424 yards, with 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions, capping 2006 with his best effort of the season in leading the Lions past No. 17 Tennessee in the Outback Bowl. A two-time Class AAAA prep all-state selection, Morelli is a probable post-season honors candidate who will be among the players considered for the Davey O'Brien and Johnny Unitas quarterback awards. Since the day a 10-year-old Morelli stepped up and fired a ball 50 yards to win the NFL's Punt, Pass and Kick competition in front of a full house at Three Rivers Stadium, his tremendous arm strength, quick release and multiple skills have been the subject of much conversation and excitement among the Nittany Nation. His accurate, tight spirals and tremendous velocity were on full display last season and with the return of seven of the top eight receivers from last year and three starters on the offensive line, Morelli is excited about continuing to lead and improve in his senior season. He has an intricate knowledge of the game to match his physical gifts and a tremendous drive, determination and passion to lead Penn State to further successes. Morelli is one of 13 Lions from Western Pennsylvania.
2006 Junior Season
Morelli started every game and improved throughout the year, growing as a leader in guiding Penn State to nine wins, including five in its last six games, and a New Year's Day bowl victory. He finished with his best effort of the season in directing the Nittany Lions to a 20-10 win over No. 17 Tennessee in the Outback Bowl. He was 14-of-25 for 197 yards, with a touchdown pass to Andrew Quarless, and no interceptions against the Volunteers. His yardage was seventh-highest by a Penn Stater in a bowl game. Playing behind a line that had only one returning starter, Morelli produced a record-breaking season. His 208 completions and 386 pass attempts broke Wally Richardson's school season marks of 193 and 335, respectively, from 1995. Morelli's 2,424 passing yards were good for third place on the Penn State season list. He was 208-of-386 (53.9) for 2,424 yards, with 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Playing through a steady rain against Akron, Morelli threw touchdown passes to each of Penn State's terrific trio of then-sophomore wideouts -- Deon Butler, Jordan Norwood and Derrick Williams -- going 16-of-32 for 206 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions or sacks. On Penn State's third offensive play of the season, Morelli stepped back for his first pass as the Nittany Lions' starter and threw a picture-perfect 42-yard scoring strike to Butler to begin a highly successful debut. He was seven-of-10 for 110 yards and two TD passes on the opening three drives. Morelli became the first Lion quarterback in the Big Ten era (since 1993) to throw three touchdown passes in his first career start. The following week at No. 4 Notre Dame, he was 21-of-33 for 189 yards, throwing a touchdown pass to Butler, and scampered for a career-long 28-yard burst to set up a field goal. Against Northwestern, Morelli threw for a career-best 288 yards, going 19-of-33. On the Lions' first play of the game, he fired a 40-yard strike to Butler, as they entered a zone. They later would connect on 55 and 49-yard strikes, as Butler broke the school receiving yardage record with 216 yards on 11 catches against the Wildcats. Morelli delivered another strong performance in the overtime win at Minnesota, going 20-of-34 for 281 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He threw a 15-yard screen TD pass to Tony Hunt late in the first half. On Penn State's possession right after the Golden Gophers tied the game at 14-all, Morelli directed a 13-play, 82-yard drive that consumed a season-long 7:25 and culminated in a seven-yard TD pass to Matt Hahn with 5:30 to play in regulation. Morelli also lofted a 56-yard strike to Derrick Williams to the Gopher 16. The 56-yard connection was the longest of his career, having previously delivered a pair of 55-yard completions. Against Michigan, Morelli was 11-of-18 for 133 yards, with no touchdowns or interceptions. On Penn State's first possession of the second half, he was hit on a 24-yard completion to Williams and suffered a mild concussion, ending his night. Morelli returned to the field the following week against Illinois and threw a TD pass to tight end Kevin Darling in the third quarter that gave the Lions the lead for good. Against Temple, Morelli was 12-of-22 for 159 yards, with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Hunt. He had directed the Lions to 320 yards of offense and a 38-0 lead when he left midway through the third quarter. Morelli threw for 220 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions in the 17-13 Senior Day win over Michigan State to secure the New Year's bowl bid. He was on the field for 822 snaps, led by 83 in the win at Purdue.
2005 Sophomore Season
Morelli continued to make very good progress during his sophomore season and played in six games behind Michael Robinson, the Big Ten's Most Valuable Player. He was an efficient 13-of-20 (65.0) for 155 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. He had four carries for minus-eight yards. In the most extensive action of his career, Morelli demonstrated strong play in the win over Central Michigan, as he and Robinson combined to throw for 381 yards, the second-highest total in school history. He entered the game in the third quarter and was eight-of-13 for 107 yards, with a 55-yard scoring strike to Ethan Kilmer. The effort marked the first time the Nittany Lions had two quarterbacks throw for more than 100 yards in the same game since the 1999 Pigskin Classic against Arizona (Kevin Thompson and Rashard Casey). Morelli also was sharp against Cincinnati, completing four of five passes for 25 yards. He entered the Illinois game in the second quarter and was one-of-two for 23 yards in the first half. He played extensively in the second half, but Penn State did not attempt any passes after opening a 56-3 halftime lead. Morelli was on the field for 62 snaps, with a season-high 21 against the Illini.
2004 Freshman Season
Morelli made his collegiate debut as a true freshman in the season-opener against Akron, completing two of six pass attempts for 23 yards. He quickly emerged as the No. 3 signal-caller behind veterans Zack Mills and Michael Robinson. He went on to play in five games, completing five of 13 attempts for 45 yards and one interception. He was two-of-two for nine yards against UCF and had a 13-yard completion and an interception at Indiana. Morelli also played against Purdue and in the win over Michigan State.
Morelli is the most decorated quarterback to come out of Penn Hills HS. Coached by Neil Gordon, he was the first four-year starter in school history. During his junior year, he passed for 1,880 yards and threw 20 touchdown passes. He followed that up with a senior campaign in which he threw for 1,575 yards and 16 touchdowns. For his career, he threw for 5,255 yards and 57 touchdowns. As a senior, he was selected for the USA Today Top 25 Supreme Team, and was a SuperPrep All-American. He was rated as the No. 2 pro-style quarterback in the nation, the No. 1 prospect overall from Pennsylvania, and the No. 12 prospect overall in the nation by Rivals.com. He was a two-time Associated Press Class AAAA all-state selection, as well as a two-time Western Pennsylvania district all-star, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Fabulous 22 and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Terrific 25 selection. He led Penn Hills to the Western Pennsylvania district semifinals as a junior and senior. At the Elite 11 Quarterback Camp, he was voted the "Top Arm" by coaches and college counselors. He played in the 2004 Big 33 Classic. Morelli also played basketball one year but stopped playing in order to prepare himself for football year-round. He graduated with a 3.3 grade-point average and was the recipient of the President's Education Award for outstanding academic achievement.
Full name is Anthony Michael Morelli. He has a younger sister, Nicole. He is a recreation, park and tourism management major. Morelli enjoys hunting and fishing. When not outdoors, he also has a penchant for music and weightlifting. Born June 21, 1985 in Pittsburgh.