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February 4, 2004

One other Thing

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chas @ 7:31 pm

What makes losing Morelli and Johnson so galling is not just that they were lost to Penn State and Miami. It’s that they were lost to teams that recruited with serious numbers at that position. For Penn State, via Tom Lemming on ESPN

The first big news on Signing Day is QB Anthony Morelli’s switch from Pittsburgh to Penn State. This has been rumored for a while and is a huge get for the Nittany Lions, who had been struggling after a fast start. The strong-armed QB will combine with LB Dan Connor will be the cornerstones of Penn State’s class, which will be moving up my top 25. One other interesting note is that the Nittany Lions have six QBs in the class, which is something I’ve never heard of. It leaves me wondering if any of the others have time to change.

[Emphasis added.]

From what I understand, 2 of the QBs will be changing positions. Still.

And Miami, though. Check out their commit list.

Not only do they have 3 other RBs on the list. Two of them were ranked higher than Johnson.

What that says about Pitt’s desirability. That kids would choose to go to a school where it will be even harder to break the depth chart than come to Pitt. Not good for recruiting perception. Or reality, period.

Parting Shot

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chas @ 7:12 pm

It wouldn’t be right not to Let Morelli ride off into the sunset with his dreams of being the latest in the great line of Penn State QBs like Kerry Collins, and, um, uh, Todd Blackledge, and … well I’m sure the numbers are legion. Anyways, the point is, Morelli did have something to say about his decision. I mean, he is a serious student with dreams of academic achievement.

“There were a lot of things Penn State had to offer as far as academics,” said Morelli who plans to major in kinesiology. “It was about more than football. It opened my eyes. I thought that this was the place I needed to be.”

Uh, kinesiology? He wants to study to be a phys. ed. teacher? Well, I guess Penn State is the place.

I guess it just came down to the coaching. Right?

“I liked Pitt alot,” Morelli said. “I like coach Harris. He’s a great coach and I believe he can get me to the NFL. But you can’t base your decision on a coach.”

So it’s the institution, not the coach? Well, actually that kind of makes sense in this case.

Make that 0-4

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chas @ 11:35 am

Confirming what was expected, James Bryant a blue-chip linebacker from Reading, PA, signed his LOI with Miami despite his brother Sam playing for Pitt. He also would have had an immediate impact at Pitt. Here is a list of players who are or have signed with Pitt.

I’m confused because Darrell Strong, who by all accounts was going to Auburn because they promised him a chance to play QB (rather than TE), but he is listed on Pitt and with a signed LOI checkmark. This could be an error. Hmmm. He’s not listed on Auburn’s LOI list.

The Other Shoe Finally Falls

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lee @ 9:50 am

Blue-White Illustrated is finally reporting what most of us already knew was a foregone conclusion: former Panther recruiting class headliner Penn Hills Quarterback Anthony Morelli has reneged on his commitment and will instead sign with the Penn State Nittany Lions. ESPN just confirmed it. Ouch.

I had been holding out a faint glimmer of hope.

I know that losing fellow former Panther blue chip recruit, North Hills star running back, and seventeenth President of the United States Andrew Johnson to the Miami Hurricanes will technically hurt Pitt football more than losing Morelli to Penn State. But still, living in Central Pennsylvania and being married to a Nittany Lion alumnus, employee, and proud fan, losing Morelli will hurt me more.

Well, good luck Tony. Since Kerry Collins graduated a decade ago, your new alma mater has destroyed quarterback talent far more often than it has ever developed that talent into anything greater than it was when it left high school. Other blue chip signal callers have committed to Penn State before you. And from Rashard Casey to Zack Mills, they’ve all gone practically nowhere. Perhaps Penn State Quarterback Coach Jay Paterno — obviously hired for his coaching acumen and not for any other self-apparent reasons — will finally turn the corner with you.

But you won’t get any help from your new offensive line or wide receivers. Penn State is practically bereft at those positions.

In closing, I look forward to my other alma mater blitzing your sorry ass deep into the turf of Ohio Stadium.

0-3

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chas @ 9:35 am

Looks like Pitt has whiffed in the end on Morelli and Johnson from Penn Hills (no link).

Now, Pitt has lost a wide receiver to the University of South Florida Bulls. Johnny Peyton is staying local.

Starting Freshmen

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chas @ 9:11 am

I came across this article about how Penn State will most likely be starting several of their incoming recruits next year

Toward the end of another troubled season, Penn State coach Joe Paterno spoke excitedly about the Nittany Lions’ incoming freshman class of football recruits.

To longtime Paterno observers, that was somewhat astonishing because the 77-year-old legend had long held to a tenet: If you depend on freshmen, you have problems.

Of course Paterno once believed that if you blame refs for a loss then you didn’t deserve to win.

Times change.

Of course, I guess that means JoePa won’t be putting his support behind another coaching legend (who had the good sense to retire) who seeks to make freshmen ineligible.

Former ACC coaches Terry Holland and Dean Smith expressed serious concern Monday over the state of college athletics and renewed their push to make freshmen ineligible.

Smith, longtime North Carolina coach and the all-time leader in NCAA coaching victories, said freshman recruits should play only for freshmen-only teams. He also suggested that junior college transfers be forced to sit out a year before playing with the varsity.

“You have to show you’re a student first before you have the privilege of playing intercollegiate basketball,” Smith said.

Whether any of the proposals will get far beyond the meeting room is uncertain.

Oh, I’m certain. No.

Dean has no clue. This is just the latest stupidity. I’m sure he thinks this will keep more kids in school longer. All it will do is convince more kids to try to get to the NBA in basketball; and in both football and basketball it is yet another way to try and keep the established powers entrenched by erecting more barriers for other programs with restraint on JUCOs and potentially sensational recruits.

Dean had previously testified before Congress to get a ban on college betting. Never mind that lines on games by professional gamblers has been more effective at providing leads and tips for point shaving and throwing games.

Just to get back to the original article, there was an interesting bit about Morelli

Tom Lemming of ESPN.com has Morelli ranked No. 8 in the country on his list of top quarterback prospects. Wallace doesn’t regard the strong-armed Morelli quite as highly, ranking him No. 14.

“He has a lot of physical tools, but he’s going to have to get a lot smarter at the game,” [Allen] Wallace[, publisher of California-based SuperPrep,] said. “We ranked Anthony farther down from where people thought he might end up at the beginning of the year. He really needs to show a better understanding of the game. You could see that when he was out here at the Elite 11 quarterback camp. He couldn’t grasp the overall game as well as the other kids.”

This echos some thing John Beard cited. Interesting.

There is an Actual Game Tonight

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chas @ 8:28 am

While I keep getting down over how the football recruiting has collapsed, there is a basketball game tonight against St. John’s. Not that the local beat reporters seem to be paying a lot of attention. One beat report leads with the subject of whether Pitt could be #1 in the polls this season. Given what has happened to #1 teams, I’m not sure that would be a good thing. The other is a focus/puff piece on assistant coach Barry Rohrssen

The New York Post noticed there was a game, though. They think the Red Storm will take a physical beating.

The Red Storm (5-13 overall, 0-7 in the Big East) doesn’t figure to be more physical than tonight’s opponent, Pittsburgh. The Panthers (20-1, 6-1) haven’t missed handing out a beating despite losing Howland to the Bruins and having point guard Brandin Knight complete his eligibility.

In a story I didn’t know, the Post is also playing up Krauser out to remind St. John’s that they screwed up on not recruiting him.

Doc Nicelli, who runs the Broncos, convinced Pittsburgh assistant Barry Rohrssen to give Krauser a chance. Rohrssen had to sell Krauser to Howland. St. John’s, the school that Krauser said he wanted to attend, didn’t show interest.

“This game is very personal for me,” Krauser said. “They basically overlooked me.”

Couple that with the national attention Krauser received in the last week, and there is the potential for some very selfish play by Krauser. That can be the kind of opening that could lead to the big upset. Will be interesting to see if Krauser can stay in control, and if coach Dixon has to/will do anything to reign in Krauser.

St. John’s University’s main focus, though, seems to say “screw this year.” They are more concerned with finding a new coach for next year once they figure out what they want.

So far, so bad:

Today is the first day high school seniors can sign a letter of intent with a college, and North Hills running back Andrew Johnson will sign with the University of Miami.

At least that’s what Johnson told school officials yesterday at North Hills. He also came to the school to pick up a letter of intent from Miami that he has to sign.

This really hurts considering the lack of any strong candidates to run the ball for Pitt.

Penn Hills quarterback Anthony Morelli also committed to Pitt in the summer, but will announce today between Penn State and Pitt. Penn Hills coach Neil Gordon met with Morelli yesterday and said Morelli insisted he still hadn’t decided on a school.

Morelli and Johnson are two in a handful of recruits Pitt might lose. Darrell Strong, a tight end-quarterback at Plantation, Fla., committed to Pitt, but will instead sign with Auburn. Pitt wanted Strong as a tight end, but Strong (6 feet 5, 248 pounds) decided he wanted to play quarterback and Auburn was willing to let him play quarterback. Strong played quarterback at Plantation and also visited Mississippi State.

Johnny Peyton, a talented receiver from Dade City, Fla., won’t announce his decision until this morning, and Pitt and South Florida are the finalists. Peyton also had made a verbal commitment to Pitt.

“West Virginia still might have a slight chance, but I really think it’s Pitt or South Florida,” said Dale Caparaso, Peyton’s coach at Pasco High School. “Both have some negatives and some positives. The negative about Pittsburgh is it’s farther away and mom doesn’t get the chance to see him play as much. The negative thing about South Florida is it doesn’t have as big a name as Pittsburgh and hasn’t sent players to the NFL.”

Pitt also will have to wait until today to find out if it will get star linebacker James Bryant of Reading. Bryant will announce his decision at a 4:30 news conference. Pitt and Miami are the finalists.

USF isn’t even in the Big East yet, and we’re already struggling to keep recruits from going there.

According to the Tribune-Review, it’s a done deal for Morelli to Penn State.

Morelli, who chose the Panthers in August, told Pitt coaches last month that he would listen to overtures from other schools after his father criticized their silence over his omission from the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

Penn State was the only school Morelli visited. The Nittany Lions pulled out all the stops, as coach Joe Paterno personally handled much of the recruitment.

Morelli’s best friend, Penn Hills receiver-kicker Joe Prokopik, said Tuesday that he has accepted an invitation to go to Penn State as a preferred walk-on.

Pitt had extended the same offer to Prokopik, who converted 4 of 5 field-goal attempts, including a long of 46 yards, and 31 of 33 extra points this past season.

Barring Walt pulling a rabbit out of his ass hat with some JUCOs or a blue chipper that Pitt was a longshot to get, this recruiting class will be seen as a major disappointment. Another mark against the disappointing Pitt season that was.

Some are (probably accurately) already predicting a very defensive Walt Harris later today to discuss the recruiting class.

When Pitt coach Walt Harris steps to the microphone for an afternoon press conference today, he could be in the defensive mode. If two big ones got away, two home-grown big ones, it will be hard to put on a brave face.

Morelli and Johnson aren’t Dan Marino and Tony Dorsett — not yet, anyway — but they are a couple of players with high national profiles Harris thought he’d bagged with early commitments.

As it turns out, the bag had a hole. The question becomes, what or who made the hole?

Harris, who has become increasingly sensitive to criticism of his program from area sources, might blame the media.

“All the negative stuff doesn’t help us recruit, especially in our area,” he’d said in mid-December. “It doesn’t help us have a better football team. We’re a lot less respected in our community than elsewhere.”

The fractured state of the Big East Conference has to be a burden, too, to recruiting efforts.

Pitt’s relatively disappointing season, and the bowl loss, probably don’t help.

A staff that has lost its offensive coordinator, running backs coach and strength coach is perhaps another negative.

Harris better be donning thick skin because the questions are not going to be easily deflected or simply turned and blamed on negativity from the media and/or fans.

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