By Joseph Santoliquito
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Skyler Mornhinweg is a modern athlete in so many ways. He’s large, mobile, possesses a cannon arm and has been practically raised on the game of football. But it’s the old-school qualities of academics and athletics—in that order—that were instilled by his parents that Skyler has always valued. It’s a reason why the prized 6-foot-3, 215-pound rising senior quarterback from St. Joseph’s Prep decided to give Penn State’s legendary coach Joe Paterno an oral commitment Tuesday morning to play football for the Nittany Lions for the 2012 season.
“They were many great schools and programs I was considering, but I decided to commit to Penn State for its championship football tradition and excellent academics and also the way coach Paterno and pretty much the whole program goes about their business,” said Mornhinweg, an all-state quarterback for the Hawks who will turn 18 on August 10. “Penn State sets unique values for themselves, they have a great fan base and there is a great atmosphere there. I got a chance to watch a game with my mother last season. We went up to the Michigan State game against Penn State after Thanksgiving. The student body was on break, but to look up and see all those fans and how devoted they were, with cars parked around the stadium for miles, that’s something I like to a part of. Penn State has an old-school mentality that really hits home.”
Mornhinweg selected Penn State over Tennessee, Alabama and Stanford, the school he originally committed the summer between his freshman and sophomore year to then-Cardinal coach Jim Harbaugh, who has moved on to take the head coaching position of the San Francisco 49ers.
A three-year starter and two-year, two-way starter at quarterback and defensive back, Mornhinweg is projected to play quarterback at Penn State. At St. Joe’s, where he’s been a two-time, first-team Philadelphia all-Catholic League selection and first-team all-state choice, Mornhinweg has thrown for over 3,000 yards and passed for 32 touchdowns. He made St. Joe’s Prep history in being the first junior ever named a team captain for the Hawks, and he was the first freshman to start since linebacker Victor Hobson (Michigan, NFL) in 1994.
More importantly, Mornhinweg has shown a great propensity to come back. He’s directed the Hawks to six fourth-quarter comebacks in his two years starting at quarterback. He’s also the most prominent offensive skill player Paterno and Penn State has grabbed from the Philadelphia area since Blair Thomas, from Frankford High School, in 1985.
Skyler revisited Penn State in mid-June and met with Paterno, his son, Jay, the Nittany Lions’ quarterback coach, linebacker coach Ron Vanderlinden and offensive coordinator Galen Hall.
”My father helped me through the process, but [St. Joe’s Prep] coach [Gabe] Infante and my whole family really had input in the decision,” Skyler said. “I sat with my father and we looked over films of Penn State’s offense. We really like the way their offense is run. Coach Jay Paterno and Galen Hall run a tremendous offense, and the good thing about Penn State is that they work with the talent that they have around them. They play a balanced offense that works. I think I can be comfortable playing in their offense. I’m going there with no timetable to start; I want to get to Penn State to learn as much as I can and compete.”
Mornhinweg plans on signing on National Letter of Intent day, Thursday, February 2, 2012. He also plans on playing both ways again for the Hawks this season at quarterback and safety, where he’s been playing throughout summer camp.
”I like playing defense and my focus and priority now is helping Prep win,” said Mornhinweg, who wants to major in English, economics and possibly think of attending law school in the future. “The bottom line is that I’m really, really happy. I can enjoy my senior year at Prep and we can focus on winning. I know where I’m going and I can’t wait to get there.”