Anthony Morelli is doing just fine.
The quarterback whose name fans cursed, mocked and threatened for two years is all smiles this hot, sticky August afternoon, a few miles from his hometown of Penn Hills.
Travel two miles uphill through the woodlands on the Orange Belt -- a winding single-lane road where the 35 mph speed limit makes being stuck behind a tractor trailer a nightmare -- and make a left onto the vast campus of Plum Senior High School.
Everywhere you turn, the horizon is lined with treetops. This is a place no one can bother you, no one can rag you.
In other words, it's the perfect locale for Morelli, the former Penn State quarterback and ex-NFLer more maligned for his shortcomings instead of praised for leading the Nittany Lions to 18 wins and two bowl victories as a two-year starter.
As Plum's new quarterbacks coach, Morelli is starting fresh, returning to his roots while a future in pro football hangs in the balance. How Plum head coach Frank Sacco, his staff and his players welcomed Morelli is nothing like some Penn State fans' treatment the last time the former quarterback stepped out at Beaver Stadium in front of a crowd.
"Morelli's taken a really unfair amount of criticism," Penn State quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno said Aug. 13. "There are some fans of ours that just won't let it go with him. Look at us two years ago, when we're 9-4 when Morelli's the starting quarterback and Florida was 9-4 that same year. You didn't hear anybody crucifying what [Tim] Tebow was doing then that year, either."
In 2007, Tebow won the Heisman Trophy, given to the nation's most outstanding college football player, after throwing for 32 touchdowns and rushing for another 23. Morelli scored 31 total touchdowns in his two years as starter.
He also led the Lions to back-to-back nine-win seasons, but defeated only two of the seven top-25 teams he faced.
Those are the imperfections his critics focus on, rather than the school passing records he holds for completions and attempts in a season. Even two years later, his former coach calls him out on national television, questioning whether he should have mixed in Daryll Clark earlier.
Sitting on a metal sideline bench in Plum's stadium, Morelli looked back on his days in blue and white, giving his critics a piece of his mind while never having a single regret in his college career.
In Illinois' Memorial Stadium in September 2007, staring a 0-2 Big Ten start in the eyes, Morelli faced a fourth-down conversion with less than three minutes left.
Flushed from the pocket, Morelli took off, scrambling closer and closer toward the first down marker and dived.
The ball got jostled loose before he made it.
Never mind the captain falling inches short after clawing his way into the redzone. He should've tucked the ball, fans said.
"That's just people who don't know football," Morelli said. "They think they could do it better? Well, I mean, if you could do it better, come down and show me. They just don't know what it takes, and I dove for it, gave it my best effort.
"The guy made a great play. How about that? He got in there and knocked the ball out and did what he was supposed to do."
Morelli stares off in the distance, kids running drills in plain purple jerseys and plain purple helmets in his sight.
He can't do a thing to change what transpired in his two years in State College.
Right now, three teenagers in red quarterback jerseys consume his life, in between working out in the Plum weightroom to stay in playing shape.
Sophomore quarterback Chris "Toph" Zdinak pump fakes, then hits his man 35 yards downfield.
Morelli fist-pumps, then gives his young quarterback a high-five.
The next quarterback in the 7-on-7 drill evades the pocket, scrambles forward and leaves his feet to keep from running past the line of scrimmage.
"Don't do that!" Morelli barks.
Sacco, a 15-year assistant who's getting his first crack as head coach, knows he's essentially renting his new quarterbacks coach.
And he loves it, despite knowing as soon as Morelli's agent calls with an offer to play, he's gone in an instant. He's sometimes missed practice to go to Buffalo to work out for the Bills.
Plum hasn't had a winning season since 2004, playing in the difficult Big East Conference of the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL) with western football powers like Pittsburgh Central Catholic, Woodland Hills and Penn Hills -- Morelli's high school.
Sacco is aware of the flak Morelli received at Penn State, but he also remembers him torching his defense for five touchdowns in a rout Morelli's senior season.
He always brings up one of the scores, a long Morelli-thrown seam route, whenever there's a mishap in his current secondary's pass defense.
Plum is a young team, with Sacco being the only coach to return from last year's 1-9 squad.
Like any team, strong quarterback play is vital to Plum's success, which is why there's so much excitement when Morelli's on the practice field. Zdinak, who Sacco said has the arm, legs and poise to lead his team despite his inexperience, seems to play better when Morelli's eyes are glued on him.
"Penn State is a pretty big school to go on scholarship," Zdinak said. "Even if you make it to the pros, regardless if you get cut or not, I was excited he was able to teach me some stuff."
So how can Morelli, the quarterback hassled for showing no poise in the pocket and no touch on any deep ball, possibly teach the position?
"He's taught us a lot," Zdinak said. "So much is running through my head right now. Just hustling, making sure you do the right things, just be confident, all the little quarterback stuff. It's not so much the actual technique, but all the things quarterbacks are supposed to do, be a leader."
And all the things people take for granted, like the quarterback-center exchange, handoffs and making the right reads.
"Coach [Joe] Paterno always said you take care of the little things, the big things will take care of themselves," Morelli said. "That's something that kind of stuck with me."
Still sitting on the metal bench, still gazing off, Morelli can't shake another memory from Penn State.
At the 2008 Blue-White game, Morelli was honored at halftime to a chorus of boos -- just four months after bringing home an Alamo Bowl trophy.
"That's just people not appreciating the time I put in there," he said. "If that's the way they feel, they're entitled to their own opinions. I'm not holding any grudges. I thought the fans were great when I was there.
"People have their favorites," he added. "They did the same thing to Zack [Mills]. They did the same to Mike [Robinson]. They're gonna boo you. That just comes with being the quarterback at Penn State with 110,000 people. It's pretty hard to get every single one of them to like you. If you can get a few in your corner, you're doing something right."
Joe Paterno was always in his corner, blocking out fans' cries for second-stringer Clark to replace Morelli.
But at Big Ten media days in Chicago in July, Paterno took the podium in front of a room full of reporters and TV cameras broadcasting nationally, and questioned his own decision to keep Clark off the field until the Alamo Bowl in 2007.
Jay Paterno said it was blown out of proportion. Morelli never felt the coaches were holding Clark back.
"If they wanted to play Daryll, they would've played Daryll more," Morelli said. "That's just Joe talking what he thinks he could've done now that it's over with. I'm sure he said the same thing when Mike was the quarterback, that maybe they should've played me more, maybe they should've redshirted me, not played me as a freshman and wasted my year.
"But how many times do you hear that when quarterbacks come in and out? You gotta stick up for your guy, and Daryll's the guy right now. You gotta give him credit. He's doing good."
Practice ends with an 11-on-11 drill. Before the first snap, there's movement along the line. Stop the drill.
The entire team drops and does 10 push-ups. Coach Sacco is trying to change the culture at Plum. He drops too. But dropping next to him is Morelli, the only other coach to hit the turf.
Sometimes after practice, Morelli and his quarterbacks bet money to see who can hit the crossbar of the goal post from the 40-yard line.
He can throw it 60 yards in one step if he wanted to, but he only slings it if his student quarterbacks hit the crossbar.
"He doesn't try to seem like, 'OK, I'm at Plum. I'm just gonna show off in front of everybody,' " Zdinak said.
After practice on this day, a huge insect lands on the track circling the football field.
It flew around Morelli during practice all afternoon, pestering him.
"Somebody give me a football," he says.
Standing five yards from the bee, Morelli fires a tight spiral into the ground, splattering the bug and drawing laughs -- some amazed -- from the team.
He's always had it.