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June 30, 2003

QBs carry on Pennsylvania tradition

The state of Pennsylvania has had a tradition for top quarterbacks for many years. With NFL greats like Johnny Unitas, Joe Namath, Joe Montanta, Dan Marino and Jim Kelly all hailing from the Keystone State, college coaches have known for years that if you want a signal-caller, check out Pennsylvania.

This year the state boasts two of the nation's top three quarterbacks. However, it's not all about offense in the great state of Pennsylvania this year as our Top 10 attests.

10. Chris Rogers
Linebacker
6-foot-3, 240 pounds
Wexford (Pa.) North Allegheny

Rogers is the only player in the Pennsylvania Top 10 who isn't on the initial Rivals100 Team. With offers from schools like Michigan, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Virginia and others, this talented inside linebacker certainly doesn't miss the publicity.

Rogers decided to end the process early with a commitment to the Wolverines and he'll line up on the inside at linebacker or play defensive end. With very good size and strength, Rogers is able to shed bigger linemen to make plays. He also has the speed to run plays down from sideline-to-sideline and is excellent in pass coverage.

As a junior Rogers made 75 tackles, 12 of which came for a loss, and caught 19 passes with four touchdowns at tight end. He also punted, averaging 40.3 yards-per-punt.

9. Greg Harrison
Offensive Line
6-foot-5, 295 pounds
Shenandoah (Pa.) Valley

Although Harrison has the frame of an offensive tackle, his run-blocking ability and strength could land him inside the tackles as a college player. Despite offers from Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State, Harrison will be paving the way for Penn State running backs in the future.

Harrison is quick off the football, stays low and used excellent leverage. He has good footwork, although that's one area he could improve, and quickness. However, what really sets him apart is his intelligence.

"Intelligence is a big factor for him," his head coach, Joe Ruth, said. "He gets it done in the class room and he knows the game. That combination of intelligence and size makes him the player that he is. There's always room for getting better. He's got good feet, but you always want to work on speed and quickness, especially when you're a lineman."

8. A.Q. Shipley
Defensive Tackle
6-foot-2, 275 pounds
Coraopolis (Pa.) Moon

The first thing that strikes you when you watch A.Q. Shipley on film is that he's a bit "sawed off" by defensive/offensive line standards. Closer to 6-foot-1 than 6-foot-2, Shipley looks a bit squat when standing next to taller linemen. Then you see him play and his height matters less and less.

Shipley is a mucker, pure and simple. He accomplishes his goals on the football field with hard work, a non-stop motor and a hustle that is hard to find these days. He'll run down more plays from behind as a defensive tackle than most linebackers, a testament to his hustle more than his quickness.

Shipley doesn't do anything great on the field, but he does everything very well. That's what brought offers from Ohio State, Michigan and others. However, he'll be joining Harrison at Penn State as part of what is quickly becoming one of the top recruiting classes in the country.

7. Andrew Johnson
Running Back
6-foot-0, 205 pounds
Pittsburgh (Pa.) North Hills

The fact that Johnson ranks only No. 7 on our Pennsylvania Top 10, yet stands at No. 75 in the country on our Rivals100, shows how strong this year is in the Keystone State.

A north-south runner with breakaway speed, Johnson will do much of his damage in college between the tackles and on cutbacks. He has a big, strong frame and the ability to bounce off tackles, but in high school he gets the job done with pure speed.

Johnson runs upright a la Eric Dickerson, but gets away with it based on his great vision and ability to anticipate contact. He missed time last season with a sprained ankle, so injuries could be a factor.

Johnson, who has more than 30 offers, will choose between Pitt and Ohio State on either July 2 or July 9.


6. Tyrell Sales
Defensive End
6-foot-4, 225 pounds
Butler, Pa.

Sales is one of those players that just looks the part of a future football star and is just starting to tap his potential. Of all the players on this list, Sales is probably the furthest from being fully developed, and that has many teams drooling over his potential.

Sales had 100 tackles as a junior and showed excellent pass-rushing ability with seven sacks. Although he's undersized for a defensive end right now, he has the frame to add 30-40 pounds and should make a living as a rush end down the line. His athleticism combined with great strength make him a special prospect.

Sales has offers from more than 30 different schools, but his favorites are Penn State and Pitt right now. Boston College, Florida State, Virginia and Virginia Tech have also offered and are in the mix.

5. James Bryant
Linebacker
6-foot-3, 240 pounds
Reading, Pa.

Picture a raging bull running down a crowded city street and tossing aside everything that gets in its way and you have a good idea of how James Bryant plays football.

Bryant, who has uncanny size and speed and bull-like strength, could be a dominant running back in a power "I" attack, but almost everyone wants him for his ability at linebacker. Bryant is too physical for running backs and tight ends and is too quick for offensive linemen. And when No. 40 meets a ballcarrier head on, he always wins the battle.

Bryant has offers from nearly everyone, but favors Michigan, Michigan State, Pitt, Boston College, Iowa, Virginia, Ohio State and LSU right now.

4. Kyle Mitchum
Offensive Tackle
6-foot-6, 265 pounds
Erie (Pa.) McDowell

Mitchum has a very good frame for an offensive tackle and is just starting to pack on weight. He could play at 310 pounds easily in college without losing any quickness.

Mitchum's strength is in the use of his arms as he gets a quick start off the ball, has a good punch and keeps his arms extended. His long reach and excellent leverage allow him to keep stronger defenders at bay and his quickness and footwork makes him effective blocking downfield.

Mitchum has numerous offers and currently lists Ohio State, Penn State, Pitt, Miami, Florida State, Syracuse and Michigan as his favorites.

3. Dan Connor
Linebacker
6-foot-3, 215 pounds
Wallingford (Pa.) Strath Haven

Coaches looking for a complete linebacker have taken the time to stop by Strath Haven this May -- or they're missing something special. That's because Dan Connor can do it all.

The one attribute that separates Connor from most linebackers is his uncanny anticipation. Whether it's reading the snap count, anticipating the direction of the play or following the quarterbacks eyes, Connor always seems to be in the right place at the right time. And when he arrives, opponents know about it.

Connor has been a big name on the recruiting scene since his sophomore season and has offers from more than 40 different programs. Most feel that Penn State will win this battle over Miami, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Michigan and others, but Connor insists he'll take things down to the end of the process.

2. Chad Henne
Quarterback
6-foot-3, 210 pounds
West Lawn (Pa.) Wilson

A rifle arm, soft touch, nimble feet and excellent speed? That's what you get with Chad Henne, who could certainly make a case for being the top quarterback in the country, yet falls short of being the top quarterback in his own home state.

Henne has it all and college coaches know it. He's also a terrific leader, makes excellent decisions (only three interceptions as a junior) and is tough as nails. When it comes to the "new age" quarterback that combines size, speed and the ability to make plays no matter what it takes, Henne is your guy.

Penn State, Michigan, Tennessee, Georgia and Miami are his final five, but don't look for a decision to come anytime soon. Henne also basks in the spotlight.

1. Anthony Morelli
Quarterback
6-foot-4, 208 pounds
Pittsburgh (Pa.) Penn Hills

So who's better, Henne or Morelli? That's a tough call and the duo could flip-flop on our Rivals100 Team a few times during the year. Originally, Henne was thought to be the sure-fire top quarterback in Pennsylvania, but Morelli's recent NIKE Camp performance changed everything.

While Henne throws the short ball better and with more zip, no one throws a better long ball than Morelli. His accuracy and touch are among the best in the country and he can throw the ball 60+ yards in the air with ease. He's not quick as elusive as Henne, but he's also a bit more at home in the pocket.

Morelli is rumored to be a heavy lean to Pitt, but Florida State and Notre Dame are also high on his list. UCLA is also in the mix.



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