Paterno helped sway Mornhinweg to pick Penn State

Skyler Mornhinweg, looking for a new college home after Jim Harbaugh left Stanford and took over the San Francisco 49ers, was won over by the Penn State coaching staff in a one-and-a-half day unofficial visit to State College last month.

Mornhinweg,  a  6-foot-3, 215-pound senior quarterback at St. Joseph’s Prep, orally committed to the Nittany Lions in a media conference call Tuesday.

Joined by his father, Marty, the offensive coordinator for the Eagles, he met in June with head coach Joe Paterno, QBs coach Jay Paterno,  offensive coordinator Galen Hall, and recruiting coordinator Ron Vanderlinden.

“It’s a great football tradition,” the 17-year-old said. “It’s a very old-school mentality. Also, the academics are great.”

Mornhinweg is a three-year starter, playing QB and free safety for the Hawks the last two years. He has thrown for 3,000-plus yards and 32 touchdowns in his high school career.

“He is the most talented quarterback I’ve ever coached,” second-year Prep boss Gabe Infante said.  “He is a prolific passer, probably one of the greatest high school passers I’ve seen in my career. He’s a highly respected member of our program, extremely well-liked in our community. He’s a natural-born leader and an incredible competitor.”

Mornhinweg, who passed for 1,546 yards and 13 scores last season, said he attended a Penn State game with his mother, Lindsay.  “I got to see the fans first-hand;  it was a great thing to be a part of.”

Joe Paterno will turn 85 in December. “I’m just real excited to play for one of the great coaches in the history of the game, “ Mornhinweg said. “I’m sure Penn State will operate the same way for years to come.”

Of de-committing from Stanford, he said,  “I simply stepped back and re-evaluated things. I’m really glad that I got to take a step back and look at Penn State.”

Mornhinweg also took unofficial visits to Tennessee and Alabama. Miami, Illinois, and Florida State were also in the running for his services. 

Was the QB tempted to choose a program that passes the ball more? “I have tremendous confidence in the (Penn State) coaches, “he said. “Me and my dad got to watch a lot of film on them. We’re real happy with the way they run their offense.”

The Nittany Lions landed another high-profile recruit from Southeastern Pennsylvania when J.J. Denman, a 6-6, 305-pound offensive tackle from Pennsbury,  committed in May.

-Rick O’Brien