Thursday, August 02, 2007

Leaders Wanted

With the start of football practice just around the corner (yeah!), the Nittany Lions are without team captains but not without candidates. Accompanying Paterno to Big Ten media day were seniors Anthony Morelli, Dan Connor, and Terrell Golden. Terrell Golden? Yes, according to teammates you shouldn't count out the seldom used Golden.

"He stepped up to the front," quarterback Anthony Morelli said. "His work ethic has been top-of-the-line."

This spring Terrell was first in line for drills during practice and he reported for weightlifting before anyone else. "When you go out there, and you show them, what else can you do besides respect that?" Golden queried. "I think I can just keep doing what I've been doing -- just being myself," Golden said. "I don't want to step outside of who I am to try to do something that's not within my character." Paterno said the fact that Golden isn't a starter wouldn't necessarily keep him off the list of potential captains.

Of course the most obvious choice to lead the offense on the field is second-year-starting QB Morelli. "He's got to have a gigantic year for us, no doubt," Connor said, "He needs to step up and be the leader of the offense. I think he will do that." Morelli is not without confidence coming into this season and, according to him, it started in the middle of last year.

"But, to be honest, things really started clicking for me toward the middle of last season. Opposing defenses finally started slowing down for me. And I started making better decisions. I felt very positive with my play toward the end of the season. I am expecting big things from myself this year, and I am expecting big things from the offense."

Big talk – sure, but his play hasn't gone unnoticed by every media type. While most would want you to ignore his Penn State season records for pass completions (208) and attempts (386), one former quarterback is impressed.

"I love him," ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit said. "I expect Morelli to be one of the best players in the Big Ten. Now when I say that, that's a strong statement. But looking at what's around him, it's almost like people have forgotten about his receiving corps. It's not a shock to me that Morelli didn't have a great year last season," Herbstreit said. "The expectations were humongous. It took him a while to get his feet under him and make people forget about Robinson. But, in the end, Morelli was very strong. The way he played against Tennessee in the bowl game, I'm predicting right now, he's got his chest puffed out, he's more authoritative in meetings, and he's telling guys what to do and when to do it. Morelli's the man now. And I think that will settle him down some. I expect him to have a huge year. And I expect Penn State to have a huge year."

Let's hope Herbstreit is right on both accounts.

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