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Former five-star quarterback recruit Paul Jones has left the Penn St. Nittany Lions football program due to personal reasons, head coach Bill O'Brien announced Thursday. The news confirms a StateCollege.com report earlier in the day that stated the second-string tight end was leaving school because he was unhappy with his role. Jones did not attend Penn State's practice on Tuesday.
Jones (6'3, 258 pounds) becomes one of the many former Joe Paterno recruits to leave the school for personal reasons. Out of high school, the redshirt junior was recruited to compete for the Nittany Lions' starting quarterback position, which is currently held down by Matt McGloin. Under O'Brien, Jones was playing the "F" tight end spot where he caught just two passes.
Entering the season, Jones was a fan favorite to possible win the No. 1 quarterback job after sitting out the 2011 seasons because of academic reasons. However, Jones was surpassed on the depth chart by freshman Steven Bench and became frustrated with his role after being moved to tight end prior to the Virginia Cavaliers game on Sept. 8.
The redshirt freshman joined the team last year after scoring 156 points in his career at Blair Academy, a prep school in New Jersey. Marcincin is the second member of the team to leave this week as wide receiver Shawney Kersey also stated that he needed to step away due to personal reasons.
Marcincin's decision only continues a tumultuoues week for Penn State kickers as the team's starer Sam Ficken missed four field goals and had an extra point attempt blocked in the university's frustrating 17-16 loss at Virginia on Saturday. Marcincin did not have a chance to kick in the game.
According to head coach Bill O'Brien, leg strength is the only reason Ficken is the starter. He also stated that the kicker position is a job that can be won on a weekly basis.
The team plans to hold walk-on tryouts next week. Ficken is currently the only kicker listed on the team's depth chart this week.
Penn State wide receiver Shawney Kersey is the latest Nittany Lion to reportedly leave State College.
With all that has went down with Penn State over the last year, few rosters have fluctuated more than the Nittany Lions'. On Monday, the team released its depth chart for its first game.
Wide receiver Justin Brown bolted for Oklahoma, and the three starting receivers listed atop the depth chart are sophomore Allen Robinson, junior Shawney Kersey and sophomore Alex Kenney. The depth chart indicates, though, that there are many options at receiver.
The starting quarterback who will guide Penn State through what should be a tough season is senior Matt McGloin.
In a reverse of the norm, the Penn St. Nittany Lions recently accepted a transfer student athlete in wide receiver Jared Fagnano. The news, reported by ESPN's NittanyNation reporter Josh Moyer, who Friday wrote the 5-foot-10, 182-pound wide out decided to forgo his preferred walk-on status with the Akron Zips to have a chance to play for the Nittany Lions.
"With all those guys leaving, it opened up spots and gave me an opportunity," said Jared Fagnano, who lives in Williamsport, Pa. "And I've just always wanted to play football there."
So far, nine players have decided to transfer from the Penn State football program, which in July was sanctioned by the NCAA with a four-year postseason ban and reduced scholarships.
According to Moyer, Fagnano was asked to be released from Akron after he was not invited to preseason camp and had a lengthy discussion with his family, including his brother Jake Fagnano, a Penn State safety.
"He wanted to play for Penn State initially back with his high school and recruiting, but things didn't seem like they were going that way for him," his father, Philip, said. "And those sanctions opened up some opportunities."
Penn State has seen plenty of players go following the sanctions handed down by the NCAA, but for the first time since the sanctions were announced, Penn State added a high school verbal commit.
Jordan Smith, a high school defensive back from Washington D.C., verbally committed to Penn State on Saturday. He becomes the first post-sanction commitment after Penn State previously lost 16 current players or verbal commitments.
Smith is rated as a 2-star recruit by Rivals.com and was given 3 stars by ESPN. In addition to Penn State, he also had offers from Colorado, Hawaii and Kansas. Smith's current academic standing could be a major benefit as well. He is reportedly on pace to graduate in December and could possibly enroll in January. If that is the case, he could count toward the 2012 recruiting class and not the 2013 class, which has a 15-scholarship cap.
Penn State has already lost 10 players from it's 2011 roster in the wake of sanctions the school received last month and another former player transferred this week although it's not necessarily a new loss. Redshirt junior cornerback Derrick Thomas transferred to Marshall this week, but he left the Penn State football team in late June due to personal reasons.
While Thomas left the team prior to the release of the sanctions against the program, he is able to transfer to Marshall without losing any eligibility as a result. He went through his first practice with the Thundering Herd on Thursday. Thomas appeared in nine games last season but did not travel with the team to the TicketCity Bowl.
At Marshall, Thomas will join his high school teammate Okechukwu Okoroha who transferred to the Thundering Herd from Boston College this offseason.
Penn State has lost redshirt sophomore tight end Dakota Royer, who's leaving the team but continuing his education at the school. The list of losses now stands at 10 players off the roster, plus five decommitted recruits.
Royer is the first of the departed players to stick around PSU. His exit could have less to do with the NCAA's sanctions and more to do with what he calls "circumstances beyond my control," but that's his business. He plans to graduate in May.
His departure won't be crushing for the Nittany Lions' on-field chances, but he did make for another young player that could've contributed on special teams (his experience is primarily on defense, actually) and may have been able to play on offense soon. With backup tight end Kevin Haplea leaving for Florida State, Royer was technically in competition for the second spot on the F tight end chart behind Kyle Carter. That job could now go to senior Brian Irvin.
Penn State lost a commitment from five-star offensive tackle Dorian Johnson Tuesday night. It was the second decommitment of the day, joining linebacker Zach Bradshaw, who opted out earlier in the day.
Johnson and Bradshaw join three other recent decommitments in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal and the resulting NCAA sanctions. They are: cornerback/receiver Will Fuller, who flipped to Notre Dame in July, defensive tackle Greg Webb, who flipped to North Carolina, and Ross Douglas, a corner who flipped to Michigan.
Johnson was Penn State's second or third-best recruit of the 2013 class. And importantly, he is the man who would have been tabbed to protect the blindside of QB recruit Christian Hackenberg, who some believe is the top quarterback in the country.
So far, Hackenberg has been solid to the Nittany Lions. But could Johnson's decommitment be the straw that breaks the camel's back?
Hackenberg told me on Monday that he's committed "as of right now" and that his decision will likely come down to how PSU does this year.— Roger Gonzalez (@RCGonzalez10) August 8, 2012
As each day passes, I just don't see C. Hackenberg staying with— Roger Gonzalez (@RCGonzalez10) August 8, 2012
#PSU. Has reached out to other schools and transfers aren't helping.
Given that Penn State's over/under win total in Vegas is 5.5 wins, the Lions are going to have to seriously overachieve to keep Hackenberg in the fold. If he is really basing his decision on how Penn State does this season, that is.
It's worth noting that Gonzalez spoke with Hackenberg on Monday, which was before Johnson and Bradshaw decommitted.
Will the decommitment of Johnson, a major piece of the offense in which Hackenberg will play, convince the QB to look elsewhere? It certainly won't help the Nittany Lions.
Hackenberg hasn't given any interviews after Johnson's departure, but it is worth noting that while he normally retweets many a rabid Penn State fan daily, he has been silent since the Johnson news broke.
Penn State's Class of 2013 now stands at just nine players.
Now that sanctions-related departures from Penn State have likely slowed down for a while, it is probably about time to look at what's left. Let's take stock of the damage inflicted both on the 2012 and 2013 PSU squads.
Dorian Johnson, a four-star offensive tackle out of Belle Vernon High (Penn.), informed Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien on Tuesday that he's decided to reopen his recruitment, reports Jeremy Sellew of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Johnson, who affirmed his commitment last month through his high school coach, told the paper that he's now interested in Pittsburgh, Ohio State and Virginia Tech. His decision is a tough blow for the Nittany Lions, who have now lost five members of their Class of 2013 as well as nine transfers since the NCAA announced sanctions against the program.
Will Fuller, a three-star wide receiver from Philadelphia, decommitted from PSU in favor of Notre Dame last weekend, while Zach Bradshaw, a three-star outside linebacker recruit from Maryland, reopened his recruitment earlier Tuesday. But Johnson's decision hurts the most, as he was the team's third-highest rated recruit. Penn State's Class of 2013 now stands at just nine players.
Zach Bradshaw, an outside linebacker recruit, decommitted from Penn State Tuesday according to multiple reports.
Bradshaw is the third player to decommit from the Nittany Lions since massive NCAA sanctions were announced, and the fourth since the release of the Freeh Report. PSU has lost four total recruits recently in addition to nine transfers.
Out of Damascus (Md.) High School, Bradshaw is a three-star recruit. He also holds offers from Virginia, Michigan State and Northwestern, among others. And he apparently has ties to Michigan State.
Penn State's class now sits at 10 members. Despite the losses, it still includes commitments from top QB Christian Hackenberg, excellent tight end Adam Breneman and offensive tackle Dorian Johnson.
Former Penn State starting running back Silas Redd is now a member of the USC Trojans. He's set to fill the one semi-vacancy among Lane Kiffin's skill positions, and the month-long road to Week 1 has now begun.
Redd suited up for USC for the first time on Monday (there's photo evidence and everything), and Kiffin was pleased with his back's ability to pick up new concepts so far, which even included some special teams. Redd on the move:
"This is my new family now. They have great tradition ... so I was excited to suit up,'' Redd said.
He said his decision was between Penn State and USC. There were no other options. He eventually chose the Trojans because of what he called a "business decision.''
Receiver Justin Brown has made his way to Oklahoma, but has yet to lose his old team's colors (that there is a don't-hit-the-new-guy-yet jersey):
Oklahoma Sooners (@SoonerSportscom) August 7, 2012
Elsewhere, former Penn State tight end Kevin Haplea got in his first workout with Florida State, a school that recruited him hard out of high school. Jimbo Fisher was happy to find room for the "great student, great guy," but insisted he didn't re-recruit:
"He called us,'' Fisher said. "We did not go after any of the Penn State players and we're not going to.''
Florida State was one short of its 85-scholarship maximum when Haplea called.
"It was like getting a free agent,'' Fisher said. "We had cap room.''
Haplea has a big athletic body, can run and catch and has played in a lot of big-time games, Fisher said.
At Cal, linebacker transfer Khairi Fortt had to be a spectator during practice on Sunday, but has immediately picked up on a pretty drastic culture change between Berkeley and what has to be an especially dour State College:
"It seems like everybody's free spirited here, it's very diverse, everybody's cool about life," the 20-year-old Stamford, Conn., native said. "And it's a beautiful campus."
"I met him last night at the team meeting; he's a great guy," said LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who is solidly entrenched as the starter. "You can tell he's really smart. There's a reason he started his freshman year under JoePa (Paterno). I'm looking forward to working with him. This team has really embraced him with open arms. He's part of the family now. Hopefully he's willing to come in and work like the rest of us."
Apologies for the number of qualifiers in that headline, but we all know Penn State football isn't out of the transfer woods just yet. With fall practice now underway in State College, though, coach Bill O'Brien can express confidence that almost every player on site will stick around at least through the end of the season. And despite losing nine players (including at least three starters) and several recruits due to the NCAA's sanctions, PSU's roster is certainly more intact than many of us had feared at first:
O'Brien has managed to hang on to the majority of his core players, especially on defense. As of the first practice, the roster stood at 109 players including walk-ons, or 92 percent of the roster as of July 23, when sanctions were announced.
"I'm very confident that the guys out here today are committed,'' O'Brien said. "Again, it's day to day, but I'm confident in these guys. ... They got up at 5:15 a.m. to practice.''
The downside, of course, is that it's not over yet. Players can freely transfer up until they actually suit up for the Nittany Lions, meaning more could leave during camp and anybody not getting playing time during the season could transfer mid-week. Players will also be free to go after the season, which could prove to be more realistic, as every possible destination will have more flexible roster numbers and players won't feel quite as pressured to make a quick decision. They'll also have to sit and watch the entire bowl season play out without them, which could add to the temptation to leave.
But still. So far, Penn State football's doing better many of us thought it would be.
Oklahoma's wide receiving corps has take a few hits this offseason, including the dismissal of Kameel Jackson on Saturday, but after a multiple losses they finally added some depth. Former Penn State wide receiver Justin Brown is transferring to Oklahoma, according to a report from ESPN's Joe Schad.
Penn State Sr WR Justin Brown has told Oklahoma coaches he will transfer there. Plans to arrive Monday.— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) August 5, 2012
Brown's arrival will be a big boost for Oklahoma who will also be without incoming wide reciever Courtney Gardner, who will grayshirt this season.
Brown, a senior, will be eligible immediately at Oklahoma and have one season of eligibility remaining. He caught 35 passes for 517 yards last season for Penn State. During his three year collegiate career, Brown has 73 catches for 1047 yards and three touchdowns.
While we’re here, let’s watch some of the many fine college football videos from SB Nation’s YouTube channel:
Penn State and Bill O'Brien received some good news on Friday evening when three Nittany Lions exploring potential transfers reaffirmed their commitment to PSU. Incoming freshman running back Akeel Lynch was reportedly considering a move within the conference to Iowa, but the upstate New York recruit tweeted out his intention to play in Happy Valley this fall:
Lynch's re-committment is a big boost for O'Brien, as the touted recruit was expected to help fill the void created by Silas Redd's departure to USC. Another back who will help plug the hole left by Redd is senior Curtis Dukes. He was contemplating a transfer to Syracuse but told the site OrangeFizz.net on Friday that he was staying at Penn State.
In addition to the two runnings backs, outside linebacker Mike Hull also announced that he would play for O'Brien next year. Hull, listed as a backup on the latest depth chart, was considering a transfer in-state to Pitt but he joined Lynch and Dukes in recommitting.
With practice beginning on Monday, it was a good way to start the weekend for PSU's program.
For more on Penn State's roster news, visit Black Shoe Diaries.
Penn State's already lost eight players and two committed recruits to other schools due to the NCAA's heavy sanctions, and could lose another at some point this weekend. Top returning receiver Justin Brown met with PSU coach Bill O'Brien twice in the past two days while trying to decide whether to transfer to Oklahoma, and will have to make up his mind very soon as to whether he's staying or going:
Brown said he doesn't have a timetable for a decision, but in all likelihood, he'll make a decision sooner rather than later; Oklahoma begins fall practices Friday morning, and Penn State starts Monday. Current Penn State players were given the option to transfer to another Football Bowl Subdivision school without having to sit out the usual one year.
"I'm not close to a decision," Brown said in a brief telephone interview.
Earlier in the week, Brown described the OU contact as light, but obviously urgency is ramping up here.
Brown, a senior and former four-star recruit, stands 6'3 and 209 pounds, ranking second on PSU's receiving list last year with 35 catches for 517 yards. He would solve the experience problem for Oklahoma, whose receiving corps has been rocked by all manner of affliction, having played in 36 career games.
He's a player Penn State especially can't afford to lose, as its next best returning receiver is fullback Michael Zordich.
For more on OU football, visit Oklahoma blog Crimson And Cream Machine.
Though we won't have to add his name to the Penn State transfer tracker, we do now know backup offensive tackle Ryan Nowicki's destination. The redshirt freshman had narrowed his list down to Arizona State, Illinois and a few others after reportedly leaning the Illini's way early on, and it looks like Tim Beckman's aggressive recruitment of PSU's roster has indeed paid off.
OL Ryan Nowicki just told Illinois coaches he will be playing for them, leaving Penn State— Richard Obert (@azc_obert) August 2, 2012
A three-star recruit from Arizona, Nowicki was pursued by a number of schools from around the country coming out of Glendale's Cactus High school. Following his commitment to Penn State, he was quoted as calling Happy Valley "an amazing place."
His exit means eight former Penn State players now have new schools. He wasn't in line for playing time this year, so the damage done by his departure will come if he's able to contribute for Illinois against a Big Ten foe and if his loss hurts PSU's depth in the coming years.
Texas has reportedly walked away from the great Penn State fire sale with a little something for itself, nabbing kicker and punter Anthony Fera. Last year, he was both a candidate for the Ray Guy and a semifinalist for the Lou Groza last year. He was excellent on field goals, ranking No. 17 in the country in accuracy among qualified kickers, and a solid punter, placing No. 37 in average yardage.
Penn State K Anthony Fera has committed to transfer to Texas— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) August 2, 2012
Fera makes for the eighth roster player to leave PSU since the NCAA's sanctions hit, and the second starter. Since he started at two positions last year, his loss might actually be the heaviest yet.
For Texas, here's what Fera could mean, via Burnt Orange Nation:
After being spoiled for years, with kickers hitting all eight game-winning kicks in the Mack Brown era, missing one (and, therefore, missing out on a conference championship or BCS bid) could end up going down as one of the lowest moments of the head coach's tenure in Austin.
That's not a risk that Brown should be willing to take, especially after saying that he didn't have any ethical concerns about taking a Penn State player.
Adding Fera could well mark the end at Texas for a guy like Will Russ, especially since having three scholarship kickers on the roster for the next two seasons seems like overkill. But if that's the price to pay for stability at a crucial, if sometimes overlooked position, then that's simply the price to pay.
Penn State backup and once-starter quarterback Rob Bolden is transferring to LSU, according to multiple outlets, making for a high profile departure in the wake of the NCAA's decree that Nittany Lions players can leave without penalty. He won't compete for immediate playing time at LSU, as Zach Mettenberger is the clear starter there, but he does supply some experience to a depth chart spot that otherwise lacks it.
The former four-star recruit has played in 20 games, starting several, but saw his completion percentage plummet from 58 as a freshman to 39.3 last year. He's thrown 14 interceptions to only nine touchdowns, but a change of scenery and schemes could serve him well.
Assuming Bolden redshirts (since he's in the same class as LSU's starter), serious playing time could come in two years, when Mettenberger's gone. No other current LSU quarterback has significant experience of any kind, and none but Bolden will be an upperclassman. But for the time being, he's an experienced backup who's now free of lingering bad vibes, both on the field and off.
Then again, maybe he'll be used as more of a situational weapon or even a non-quarterback. He certainly has the physique (6'4, 210 pounds, 4.6ish 40-yard dash) to play receiver.
For PSU, the depth chart ramifications are not disastrous. Bill O'Brien has backed senior Matt McGloin as the starter, and the fans have a thing for sophomore backup Paul Jones. No. 3 on the depth chart Shane McGregor has little experience, but is a senior.
As you can see, Penn State site Black Shoe Diaries isn't too torn up about it:
Some of you will cheer. Some will roll your eyes at those who cheer. Some will shrug. But no matter what, it was a long and tumultuous ride for the kid from Michigan. He started as a true freshman, played well until getting hurt, but couldn't ever recover. Bolden wanted to leave after the 2010 season, but wasn't given his release. Now, a year and a half later, he may finally be able to get that fresh start he so desperately needs.
Oklahoma needed some more wide receivers even before discovering this week that Juco transfer Courtney Gardner won't play this year. As it is, the Sooners will trot out a receiving corps composed almost entirely of new transfers and freshmen, other than Kenny Stills. If only there were a team out there who could send over players eligible to play right away.
Penn State receiver Justin Brown says he's been in touch with OU, but "not that much contact." Brown, a senior and former four-star recruit, stands 6'3 and 209 pounds, ranking second on PSU's receiving list last year with 35 catches for 517 yards. He would solve the experience problem for Oklahoma, having played in 36 career games.
But Brown tells Sooner Scoop rumors of his impending transfer aren't true "as of now." Despite possibly losing something like seven players already, Penn State's offense remains in steady shape for the time being.
Jamil Pollard and the Penn State Nittany Lions have had an on-again, off-again relationship over the past couple of recruiting seasons. It's officially off now, however, as the incoming freshman defensive lineman has decided to commit to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.
Pollard originally committed to Penn State as a junior, but the university pulled his scholarship offer after his grades failed to meet their standards. He was able to get his grades up, however, and signed a National Letter of Intent to join the Nittany Lions next season this past February.
The recent sanctions against Penn State caused Pollard to change his mind, though, as his high school coach told the New Jersey Star-Ledger that his standout lineman is now headed to Rutgers.
"He's going to go to Rutgers," said Pollard's high school coach at West Deptford, Clyde Folsom. "He's leaving Penn State and going to Rutgers."
"We spoke last week when the penalties became public at Penn State," said Folsom. "He wasn't sure what he wanted to do, he wasn't in the right state of mind at the time to really make a decision. But over a 48-hour period there were six or seven Division I schools that were interested in bringing him in on scholarship."
Pollard isn't the first Penn State player to leave and likely won't be the last as the Nittany Lions continue to deal with the fallout of the school's recent scandal.
For more on Penn State's ongoing transfer situation, check out this Storystream. For more on Nittany Lions football, visit Penn State blog Black Shoe Diaries, plus Big Ten blog Off Tackle Empire, and SB Nation Pittsburgh.
The transfer count for Penn State football continues to grow, as the Nittany Lions have lost another veteran player in tight end Kevin Haplea, according to a report by Rich Scarella of The Reading Eagle.
Kevin Haplea, the most experienced tight end on the Penn State roster, has decided to transfer, a source told the Reading Eagle.
Haplea visited Florida State last week, but it was unclear to where he will transfer.
Haplea is officially the fourth Penn State player to transfer since the NCAA granted a waiver for the Penn State players to transfer without penalty or having to sit out for a season in order to be eligible.
Haplea caught six passes for 60 yards and one touchdown for Penn State in his career, but the 6-foot-4, 248-pound junior tight end's destination is not known at this time.
Update: Several outlets, including SB Nation's Tomahawk Nation, have confirmed that Haplea will in fact transfer to Florida State.
For more on Penn State's ongoing transfer situation, check out this Storystream. For more on Nittany Lions football, visit Penn State blog Black Shoe Diaries, plus Big Ten blog Off Tackle Empire, and SB Nation Pittsburgh.
While some more Penn State transfers begin to trickle out, former Penn State quarterback Rob Bolden is expected to step right into practice at his new school with the LSU football team on Wednesday, according to a report by Jim Kleinpeter of the The Times Picayune.
Former Penn State quarterback Rob Bolden is expected to report for the start of fall practice with the rest of the LSU team on Wednesday, a source close to the situation said Tuesday. The source said Bolden told LSU coaches he is coming.
Bolden is eligible to play immediately for Penn State, due to the waiver awarded by the NCAA after laying down their punishment on Penn State for the Sandusky scandal.
For more on Penn State's ongoing transfer situation, check out this Storystream. For more on Nittany Lions football, visit Penn State blog Black Shoe Diaries, plus Big Ten blog Off Tackle Empire, and SB Nation Pittsburgh.
Penn State running back Silas Redd, the most publicly sought-after player on the Nittany Lions roster, was the only player slated to make Big Ten Media Days who was then replaced on the schedule. That's because he's transferring to USC, announcing the move to reporters via text message after heavy rumors of him considering a transfer and a pretty public courting by Lane Kiffin at Pac-12 Media Days.
In 2011, Redd rushed for 1,241 yards and seven touchdowns, establishing himself as the closest thing PSU had to a national star player. While Redd's on-field production will certainly be missed in State College, his exit could prove even more damaging from a morale and perception standpoint.
For USC, this means freshman Nelson Agholor won't have to fill in at running back, freeing the speedster to focus on running routes. After the exits of running backs Amir Carlisle and Dillon Baxter, and George Farmer's move outside to receiver, USC's primary offensive question (besides left tackle) has now been answered, and the Trojans' national title odds are going to look just a little more enticing for many. Redd fortifies a position that otherwise featured a lot of small, fast guys, but few experienced rock-toters.
For Penn State, top tailback duties now fall to Bill Belton, a sophomore who had 13 carries last year and has already affirmed his commitment to PSU.
The peak irony here: USC's just now bowl-eligible again, thanks to undergoing NCAA sanctions of their own, and has seen multiple players leave over the last two years due to their own troubles. The Trojans have even been considered a potential model for PSU, though Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien has a much more difficult task ahead of him than Kiffin ever did. If USC wins a Pac-12 title partially on the strength of a player it got due to NCAA penalties, the world may explode.
Update: USC athletic director Pat Haden officially confirmed the news in a statement:
"We welcome Silas Redd to the Trojan Family. He is an outstanding student and athlete. When the NCAA presented the option to transfer, Silas and his family put a lot of thought and research into making this decision.
"At USC, we've seen both sides of this issue, having lost a number of players to transfer due to our NCAA sanctions in 2010. But Lane Kiffin and his coaches would not be doing their job if they did not try to improve our team every single day. There is a specific need here for a player like Silas Redd, so Lane and our coaches recruited him within the guidelines set up in this instance by the NCAA."
Penn State has lost its second transfer in the wake of NCAA sanctions granting any current scholarship player to play elsewhere without having to sit out a year. Linebacker Khairi Fortt will play for the Cal Bears next season according to reports.
Fortt was expected to compete for the starting middle linebacker spot for the Nittany Lions this season as a junior. Last year he appeared in 12 games and recorded 33 tackles, 2.5 of them for sacks.
Safety Tim Buckley became the first player on the roster to transfer when he decided to play for N.C. State this season. Quarterback Rob Bolden has already been granted a release and paid a visit to LSU. Running back Silas Redd has been absent from summer workouts, and is being heavily recruited by USC.
For more on Penn State's ongoing transfer situation, check out this Storystream. For more on Nittany Lions football, visit Penn State blog Black Shoe Diaries, plus Big Ten blog Off Tackle Empire, SB Nation Pittsburgh and SB Nation Philly. And for the latest on the Bears, head over to California Golden Blogs.
The Penn State Nittany Lions are probably going to lose a number of star players due to their NCAA sanctions and the free reign that their players have to transfer. The likes of Rob Bolden and Silas Redd are expected to depart, but they've yet to decide on their futures. The first Penn State transfer isn't a huge name, but is likely the beginning of an exodus from the football program.
The man with the distinction of leaving Penn State first is Tim Buckley, a redshirt freshman safety. Buckley, who hails from North Carolina, has decided to move closer to home and transfer to N.C. State. He was the No. 2 free safety on Penn State's depth chart heading into the season and would have had a very good shot at playing time if he stuck around. He may not play immediately for the Wolfpack, but Tom O'Brien will be happy to lock up a solid player with four years of eligibility remaining.
For more on Buckley and the Wolfpack, head over to Backing the Pack. For more on Penn State's ongoing transfer situation, check out this Storystream. For more on Nittany Lions football, visit Penn State blog Black Shoe Diaries, plus Big Ten blog Off Tackle Empire, SB Nation Pittsburgh and SB Nation Philly.
Rob Bolden is no longer under scholarship to play football for Penn State, according to reports, and has already begun the process of choosing his next destination by reportedly taking an official visit to LSU. StateCollege.com's Rob Musselman tweeted the news on Bolden's status with Penn State:
I have been told by two sources that Rob Bolden has been granted his release from his scholarship.
— Ron Musselman (@rmusselmansc) July 30, 2012
Bolden was by no means an important piece of the puzzle at Penn State: The former starter was No. 3 on the depth chart after a sophomore season that saw him complete less than 40 percent of his passes and toss two touchdowns to seven picks, and Matt McGloin is the presumptive starter. However, Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson graduated last season for LSU, leaving first-year starter Zach Mettenberger the likely option at quarterback with only redshirt freshmen behind him. Bolden might not be the answer at quarterback for the Tigers, but if he were to choose LSU, he would provide valuable depth immediately for a team that won't need to score many points to be competitive.
For more on Penn State's ongoing transfer situation, check out this Storystream. For more on Nittany Lions football, visit Penn State blog Black Shoe Diaries, plus Big Ten blog Off Tackle Empire, SB Nation Pittsburgh and SB Nation Philly. And for the latest on the Tigers, SB Nation has LSU blog And The Valley Shook.
The violation stems from comments USC quarterback Max Wittek made to the L.A. Times. Wittek has a relationship with Redd dating back to their Pop Warner Football days and while he is allowed to talk to Redd, he isn't allowed to comment on his recruitment publicly. Here were Wittek's comments:
"I told him I was sorry to hear about everything that came down and that it was obviously a difficult situation," Wittek told the paper. "But I tried to sell USC to him a little bit. I'd love to have him here.
"He said thanks for reaching out, that he was definitely interested and was just trying to take the right steps to decide what he was going to do."
USC sports media relations director Tim Tessalone was less than thrilled with the media outlets running the quotes.
"We are disappointed that any media outlet would ask a coach, student-athlete or staff member to comment about a prospect, and then use such a quote, when it is well known that NCAA rules preclude us from making such a comment,"
While the comments could result in a secondary violation, they are unlikely to draw any major punishment.
For more on Nittany Lions football, visit Penn State blog Black Shoe Diaries, plus Big Ten blog Off Tackle Empire, SB Nation Pittsburgh and SB Nation Philly. For more on Trojans football, visit USC blog Conquest Chronicles, plus Pac-12 blog Pacific Takes and SB Nation Los Angeles.
As first hinted at by SB Nation's Tomahawk Nation, experienced Penn State tight end Kevin Haplea visited Florida State on Friday. There's been no official word as to his standing, though his high school coach describes the tough decision awaiting him and the value of his unused redshirt year.
From Tomahawk Nation's profile:
Haplea is a New Jersey kid, which means he was recruited by ace recruiter and tight ends coach James Coley back in the 2010 class. He's now a junior and 6'4 and 248 pounds.
Haplea seems to be a balanced tight end. FSU couldn't guarantee him the starting job, but the 'Noles certainly could offer a lot of playing time, particularly because Florida State is looking to run more two-tight end sets going forward.
Having battled some injuries during his career, Haplea is not necessarily the starter in Happy Valley. That's important, because a player is probably not leaving a guaranteed starting spot for a contributor role in another town.
After being recruited to leave Penn State by at least five schools each, linebacker Ben Kline and defensive tackle Kyle Baublitz have elected to stay in State College. That makes for a reiteration by Baublitz, who'd already indicated he'd stay even before drawing so much interest.
Kline, a redshirt freshman and former three-star recruit from Pennsylvania, was targeted by Arizona, Arizona State, Purdue and others. Baublitz, a converted defensive end and tight end, heard from West Virginia, Baylor and more.
That makes for almost three dozen current players who've declared they'll stick around despite the NCAA's sanctions and the lingering scandal. A few big names and important contributors remain on the fence, and the long-term concern is still going to be youth and depth. But as long as players on the two-deep -- like Baublitz and Kline -- stick around, the 2012 season shouldn't be the kind of disaster we'd initially feared.
You won't find much press on Peoria (Az.) Centennial High linebacker recruit Brennan Franklin. He didn't have a single BCS offer. Heck, some recruiting sites don't even list him as having an FBS offer (though some say he does have one from Toledo). He is a zero-star recruit.
But that didn't stop Penn State, which needs to pack its roster as full as possible given the sanctions taking effect in 2013, from accepting his commitment. Franklin was preparing to attend a junior college until Penn State came through with an offer.
Centennial LB Brennan Franklin can't wait to get to Linebacker U: azcentral.com/members/Blog/R…— Richard Obert (@azc_obert) July 27, 2012
"I know there's a mess out there, but it's one of the best schools to go to," said Franklin, who was a week away from packing his bags for Eastern Arizona College. "If I went to New Mexico or New Mexico State or Indiana, they wouldn't be going to a bowl game anyway.
That attitude is evidence that some players will still relish the chance to play at Penn State, though it is still yet to be seen if good players will want to come to Penn State. Franklin is the first commitment since the massive NCAA sanctions were announced.
Franklin is big (6'3, 234 pounds is the smallest listing on the four major recruiting sites), and did make the all-state team last season.
Normally, I'd criticize Penn State for this move. Franklin is not a Penn State quality player under normal circumstances.
But these aren't normal circumstances. Penn State will only be able to sign 60 players over the next four years, as opposed to the normal 100. There's little to no downside in taking Franklin because, frankly, the Nittany Lions need warm bodies willing to stick with the program. With a hard cap of 65 total scholarships starting in 2014 and a limit of 15 new players annually beginning in 2013, depth is going to be a huge issue in Happy Valley.
Franklin is a 2012 recruit, so he does not count against the limit of 15 for the 2013 class. And he is probably on par with the quality of player Penn State will be bringing in over the next four to six years.
The move is similar to what Miami did last season, when it took several questionable talents in anticipation of looming NCAA sanctions. It would not be a surprise to see Penn State pick up an additional player or two as late additions to the 2012 class.
Penn State linebacker Khairi Fortt has been one of the busiest names in the great transfer rumor mill, with something like 30 schools contacting him within a day of the NCAA's sanctions announcement. Those listed by his father included Georgia, California, Baylor, and UConn, and now we have more to add to the list via ESPN:
"TCU, UConn, Kansas, Washington, Auburn, Baylor, FSU, Vanderbilt and several others told him he has a scholarship at their program," Guy Fortt said. "He is torn, but I think he is doing his due diligence and evaluating his options."
Buzz is growing around Auburn and Florida State being very interested in seeing which Penn State players they can add. I'm just over here talking about buzziness, so don't mind me.
He's got two years of eligibility left, has seen action in 22 games so far, ranked third among all Penn State underclassmen in tackles last year, hasn't been in trouble, and has the stamp of approval from a Linebacker U dean.
While much of the attention on possible Penn St. Nittany Lions transfers has focused on Silas Redd, offensive lineman Ryan Nowicki has also been linked to a number of schools. Nowicki is scheduled to visit the Arizona St. Sun Devils on Monday, according to a report.
Nowicki has previously been linked to the Illinois Fighting Illini and Washington Huskies. He played high school football in Glendale, Ariz., so Arizona State would provide him the opportunity to return closer to home. Nowicki redshirted his first season at Penn State in 2011 and will have four years of eligibility remaining.
Two more names to add to the lengthy list of schools with speculation a-circling regarding their potential incoming Penn State transfers: Texas and Florida State.
The Horns have reportedly been contacted by all-around legman and Texas native Anthony Fera, who was both a candidate for the Ray Guy and a semifinalist for the Lou Groza last year. He was excellent on field goals, ranking No. 17 in the country in accuracy among qualified kickers, and a solid punter, placing No. 37 in average yardage.
Tomahawk Nation eyes Penn State's roster and notes tight end Kevin Haplea was nearly a Noles commit in 2010 and could earn decent playing time if he were to take another trip to Tallahassee. At 6'4, 250 pounds, the junior only has a handful of catches so far in his career, but has posted a touchdown.
Perhaps the good news for Penn State: Big Ten coaches have taken up frowning at the idea of taking PSU players. At Big Ten Media Days, Urban Meyer came out against active poaching, and Bret Bielema, Jerry Kill, and Pat Fitzgerald denied they'd go after Nittany Lions. So far, only new guy Tim Beckman has acknowledged making a conscious effort to take from Penn State.
"It's time to get on board," Penn State coach Bill O'Brien began at Big Ten Media Days. He did not deliver the line with hesitance. "I see it as an opportunity, a little bit of adversity," adding that Penn State still has more players than a NFL team does. Hey, he made a Super Bowl, so.
The rookie coach of perhaps the most troubled program in recent college football history delivered a call to fans and boosters to recognize that there's still a "fast, tough team" that still needs to be rooted for.
He shot down concerns over other schools on his campus picking through his roster (and also denied he was contacted by Illinois' Tim Beckman, who'd said he sent PSU a list of targeted players), then delivered once again his recruiting pitch for current players he hopes to hang onto: excellent academics, top facilities, elite competition. "They can do whatever they want as long as they contact our compliance office," O'Brien said, adding that he wasn't bothered by the Big Ten lifting transfer restrictions.
"The sanctions are what they are," he said regarding a possible appeal. Don't expect one.
He can't comment on the Silas Redd news -- the top running back is reportedly meeting with Lane Kiffin this morning. Later he said he expects Redd to return while detailing his offensive depth. I don't think we should expect that, but we can understand why O'Brien has to say he expects it.
As for roster matters, "we've got depth at wide receiver," "I'm proud to have [Matt McGloin] as our starting quarterback," "our tight end position has decent depth," "our running back position with Silas coming back, we feel good about the depth there." "Defensively, we feel good about the depth there."
"There's a lot of discussions going on with our team," O'Brien said about possible uniform changes this year. Pulling out all the recruiting stops during a troubled time, perhaps.
A new "Bomani & Jones" to lend Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien some moral support, and perhaps more importantly, some advice: Quit that job. Fast.
"I'm gonna be [Penn State's] biggest fan this year," Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said after pledging not to pursue transfers from any PSU players. The Nittany Lions aren't eligible to win the division the Badgers happen to play in, so there's really no risk in hoping for 11 weeks worth of success there.
That's a unique stance, as so far pretty much every other coach has said he'll take a look at PSU's roster. Bielema was followed by Purdue's Danny Hope, who indicated he's just fine with accepting a Penn State transfer, and Illinois has reportedly already taken backup tackle Ryan Nowicki. Bielema, of course, was involved in a kerfuffle with Urban Meyer over poached recruits, so he'd kind of look bad if he went and took a roster player from a Big Ten rival.
Also, Bielema twice mentioned he's been married for 19 weeks and five days. This is important to remember.
Whether anybody likes it or not, the story at Big Ten Media Days on Thursday and Friday in Chicago is going to be Penn State. I mean, Penn State was a major story at Pac-12 Media Days (and the SEC's and ACC's and so on), with USC's Lane Kiffin pretty openly pitching for PSU back Silas Redd to head west, or at least as openly as rules allow. Speaking of Redd:
And here's one explanation:
Silas Redd, sitting down w USC coach NOW. That sort of explains why he isn't at Big 10 Media Day— Colin Cowherd (@ESPN_Colin) July 26, 2012
That's after the latest reports had Redd giving USC's offer serious thought.
On Wednesday, Redd and Hill missed a gathering of a couple dozen Nittany Lions who swore their faithfulness to Happy Vally, but we chalked it up to Media Days travel. (Mauti was one of the two spokesmen for the group, so we know he's solid on PSU.)
Now, with only Redd missing out, the elephant remains squarely in the room.
The highest-profile player the Penn St. Nittany Lions have entering the 2012 season may yet become the highest-profile transfer of the college football offseason. ESPN's Joe Schad and Don Van Natta (but mostly Schad, likely) report that running back Silas Redd is "seriously considering" a transfer to the USC Trojans for the 2012 season.
Redd ran for 1,241 yards and seven touchdowns in 2011, and averaged just more than five yards per carry. If he transfers, he would give USC a second 1,000-yard rusher in its backfield (Curtis McNeal just crested the mark in 2011 for the Trojans) and give himself a chance of playing not only for a Pac-12 conference championship and a BCS bowl berth, but also a very good shot at winning a national title.
Redd's decision whether to stay or go could come as soon as Monday. If he leaves, Penn State would return no rushers who tallied more than 250 yards on the ground in 2011.
Here we have some more schools to add to the lengthy list of programs snooping around Penn State's roster. When NCAA sanctions were first announced, many assumed West Virginia would be among the teams most likely to gain, based on proximity and their rising national stock.
Via the York Daily Record, a report that the Mountaineers are looking at defensive tackle Kyle Baublitz, who's said he'll stay in State College, along with more schools interested in Baublitz and redshirt freshman linebacker Ben Kline:
Steve Baublitz confirmed that his son was contacted by the coaching staffs at Baylor, Texas Tech, Houston, Boston College, Cincinnati, West Virginia, Kansas and Hawaii.
Kline is being recruited by Arizona, Arizona State, Purdue, Northern Illinois, Bowling Green and others, Myers said.
Baublitz is a converted end and former tight end who currently sits No. 2 on the depth chart at tackle, playing 129 snaps last season. He was a four-star recruit out of Pennsylvania who was recruited by WVU and BC, among others. Kline was a three-star linebacker, also from Pennsylvania.
Why wasn't star Penn State running back Silas Redd in that group of Nittany Lions who pledged their commitment to the program this morning? Well, he was en route to Big Ten Media Days in Chicago, of course. But now plans have changed, as Penn State's contingent won't include any of the three players who were expected to go to Chicago.
Redd was a topic at Pac-12 Media Days, where USC coach Lane Kiffin all but openly begged for Redd to head to L.A.
Let speculation now run wild. Are all three of these players looking to leave? Is Bill O'Brien just protecting them from endless questions about non-football stuff? Is PSU worried about them coming into contact with rival coaches? Does Jordan Hill not speak English? These are all things that could be speculated by anyone looking to speculate.
(It's probably mainly the questions one.)
We haven't yet seen Arizona State's name in this collection on schools that are coming after Penn State players, but coach Todd Graham has some recruiting ties to Pennsylvania due to his near-year stay at Pitt, so it makes sense that the Sun Devils could find a way in.
Multiple reports saying Arizona State is pursuing Penn State LBs Ben Kline & Nyeem Wartman.— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) July 25, 2012
Kline is a redshirt freshman and Wartman is an incoming freshman. Both were rated as three-stars by Rivals and were recruited by Pitt -- Kline was once committed to the Panthers, but that ended about a month before Graham showed up. You'd have to assume Graham at least made a call to a player his inherited class had lost only weeks earlier, though.
Our own Pacific Takes ranked linebacker as perhaps ASU's weakest position group, with the talented Vontaze Burfict having taken his act to the NFL.
The list of schools interested in picking up players from the Penn State wreckage is already long, so why not add a few more? On ESPN Wednesday morning, coach Bill O'Brien said kind things about his peers who've called him to say they're looking into PSU's roster, rather than going directly to the players. Even though schools are allowed to do pretty much whatever they want due to the NCAA's sanctions, it's still polite.
Bill O'Brien says Kirk Ferentz, Doug Marrone and George O'Leary (former boss) have contacted him about Penn State players.— Erick Smith (@erick_smith) July 25, 2012
Iowa fans have expressed interest in receiver Malik Golden, who visited the Hawkeyes during his recruitment. Syracuse's Doug Marrone and O'Brien both worked for O'Leary at Georgia Tech.
The most interesting story line here could be O'Leary taking a player away from Ted Roof, who was briefly O'Leary's defensive coordinator earlier this year before the Penn State job came calling.
With schools from all around the country and every major conference closing in, a group of "about 30" Penn State players gathered Wednesday morning to affirm their desire to remain in State College and play for the Nittany Lions. That's despite the NCAA's ruling that players can escape sanctions by freely transferring to another school, thereby avoiding the typical one-year penalty for switching teams. So far, only one player, backup Ryan Nowicki, has reportedly left.
Michael Zordich and Michael Mauti led the proceedings, joined by others who'd already declared themselves true blue and white. The crowd didn't include Silas Redd, who reportedly has an open invitation to USC. He could be busy making his way to Big Ten Media Days, which begin Thursday in Chicago, though.
Penn State coach Bill O'Brien sort of knew what he was getting into when he left a Super Bowl team to take over for Joe Paterno amid the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Now with major NCAA sanctions to also deal with, O'Brien finds himself with the rare task of recruiting his entire current roster to remain at PSU while also trying to retain his current committed recruits. This has meant a lot of public conversation as well, much of it focusing on the same selling points: Penn State's academics, "six or seven bowl games a year" in front of 108,000 fans (he's very right that no bowl can offer that kind of crowd), competition against Big Ten teams, games on TV via the Big Ten Network at very least, and NFL-quality coaching.
One such conversation, with ESPN's Ivan Maisel:
The list of publicly reported interest in Penn State's roster includes USC; Alabama, Tennessee, Arizona, and Kansas; South Carolina; Illinois; Oregon, Virginia Tech, Virginia, N.C. State, UConn, Maryland, Marshall, and UMass; Georgia, Cal, and Baylor; UCLA and Boston College. That's in addition to committed recruits, with Michigan already taking one.
Backup tackle Ryan Nowicki will reportedly leave for Illinois, but that's the only damage so far. And while more than a dozen Penn State players (many of them starters) and a handful of recruits have affirmed their commitments to State College, those are hardly ironclad, plus others appear to be on the fence for now. Backup quarterback Rob Bolden, for one.
The Penn State football roster is currently in a state of flux while players determine whether they want to stick with the program or take advantage of the NCAA's special transfer protocols following the sanctions placed on the school. One player who is committed to staying with the team is senior nose tackle Jordan Hill, reports the Patriot-News.
As a junior, Hill amassed 59 total tackles, eight tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks. With Devon Still now in the NFL, Hill is one of the leaders both on and off the field for Penn State.
For the moment, the only player that is reported to be transferring is redshirt freshman Ryan Nowicki. The right tackle is supposedly heading to the Illinois Fighting Illini. Only one recruit that had previously verbally committed to the Nittany Lions has changed his destination at this point: Ross Douglas has opted to join the Michigan Wolverines in 2013.
Between the ongoing college-football conference media days and the immediacy at which sports fans expect to get their news, we already know a number of schools who have fessed up to contacting current Penn State football players.
We've heard from Tennessee's Derek Dooley and Kansas' Charlie Weis. Alabama's Nick Saban said he would consider Nittany Lions players coming to Tuscaloosa "if somebody was interested," and Baylor head coach Art Briles told attendees at the Big 12 Media Day that he has been approached by one current Penn State player.
But while a number of schools will certainly speak with players over the next month, Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez's pitch could be the most interesting.
As the former head coach of the Michigan Wolverines and West Virginia Mountaineers, Rodriguez has plenty of experience and knowledge recruiting that Mid-Atlantic and Midwest part of the country. Despite Tucson being more than 2300 miles away from central Pennsylvania, it could be the Arizona Wildcats that emerge as a major player in the Penn State Sweepstakes.
Rodriguez was candid during the Pac -12 Media Day on Tuesday, saying he's spoken with "a couple guys, because we know 'em," and added that his current Wildcats coaching staff knows "more than a dozen" players currently on the Nittany Lions' roster, based on their time spent pounding the recruting trail in previous years.
He and his staff could position the opportunity as one of a fresh start. A move to a different part of the country that allows a player to work with a coaching staff with roots back east.
Who knows how many current Penn State players will actually transfer, there's an argument to be made that Rodriguez's Tucson oasis emerges as the most appealing.
Just hours after Penn State lost their first committed recruit from the class of 2013 to the Michigan Wolverines, the team has now also reportedly lost their first roster player.
Tuesday night it was reported that redshirt freshman right tackle Ryan Nowicki will transfer from Penn State University and likely enroll at the University of Illinois.
Earlier Tuesday afternoon, Ross Douglas, who was expected to play cornerback for the Nittany Lions next fall before he decommitted from the school, committed to Michigan.
That players would leave Penn State's football program in the wake of NCAA's harsh penalties against the school is no surprise, but that the first two players to actually do that would potentially join rival Big Ten schools has to be a bit more frustrating for PSU fans.
A three-star recruit from Arizona, Nowicki was pursued by a number of schools from around the country coming out of Glendale's Cactus High school.
Following his commitment to Penn State, he was quoted as calling Happy Valley, Pennsylvania "an amazing place".
Count Tennessee as a team that has contacted Penn State football players in the wake of Monday's penalties levied by the NCAA.
Tuesday Volunteers head coach Derek Dooley told the Downtown (Knoxville) Rotary Club that he has been in touch with unnamed Nittany Lions players, adding that he would not specify which players he had specifically spoken with.
But with Penn State's Silas Reed being the most sought after player by other schools, and the gaping hole in UT's backfield, there's a chance that Dooley and his coaching staff applies a sort of full court press on Reed if the interest level becomes reciprocated.
Reed rushed for more than 1,200 yards last season as a sophomore. The Vols leading returning rusher is Marlin Lane, who rushed just 280 yards in his freshman season.
Last year, the Volunteers benefited from another school's unfortunate situation when USC was placed on NCAA probation when they signed defensive lineman Malik Jackson.
Jackson was an All-SEC player and drafted by the Denver Broncos this past spring.
During Lane Kiffin's media session Tuesday during which he all but openly recruited Penn State's Silas Redd to USC, one crucial question remained: do the Trojans have room to add the talented running back?
The NCAA had previously said that a school may exceed its total scholarship limit of 85 to add a Penn State transfer, provided the school dock itself a scholarship in the subsequent year.
But did that exception apply to schools like USC, Ohio State and others operating under scholarship caps previously reduced by NCAA sanction?
No, the NCAA said late Tuesday.
Official word from NCAA: #USC and other schools subject to scholarship limits b/c of infractions cases CANNOT go over prescribed limit.— Michael Lev (@LevOnUSC) July 24, 2012
The ruling does not mean that USC will be unable to add Redd, assuming he wants to head to LA.
If USC has an open scholarship, it is free to offer it to Redd. The ruling simply means that the Trojans may not avail themselves of the NCAA exemption permitting a school to exceed its limit by forfeiting a scholarship in the following year.
While many current Penn St. Nittany Lions players and future prospects are beginning to explore their other options following Monday's NCAA sanctions, offensive tackle recruit Dorian Johnson is not rushing to leave the school and may yet end up sticking with the school.
Dave Hooker of ESPN.com reports that Johnson, who is ranked as the second-best offensive tackle prospect in the country, has not decommitted, nor has he made any indication that he will.
"At this point, nothing has changed in his status," Johnson's high school coach, Aaron Krepps, told ESPN on Tuesday morning just after talking to his star prospect.
Krepps said Johnson is still committed to Penn State despite the harsh NCAA sanctions announced Monday, but added that the family is taking time to think things out. Krepps said Johnson won't be talking to the media anytime soon and that there could be more developments next week.
"I don't think there's any rush," Krepps said.
If Johnson sticks at PSU, he will be the second recruit to do so, behind tight end recruit Adam Breneman, who reaffirmed his commitment on Tuesday.
So far, roster news for the Penn St. Nittany Lions has been better than expected, with top freshman Eugene Lewis saying he plans to stay and no losses after one full day of NCAA transfer sanctions. Now perhaps the best possible news PSU could get: tight end Adam Breneman, the top recruit in new head coach Bill O'Brien's 2013 class, says he remains committed.
Besides being rated as the nation's best tight end recruit, Breneman has been considered the most important player in the class. His departure would put the entire collection into jeopardy.
With Silas Redd also on track to represent Penn State at Big Ten Media Days and no current players publicly expressing the desire to leave, the worst fears for Penn State's short-term football potential might not come true.
Finally, a good sign for Penn State football. Incoming four-star wide receiver Eugene Lewis plans to take the field for the Nittany Lions despite a free pass from the NCAA to play elsewhere, according to his father:
"He`s doing the best that he can, he`s little discouraged however he understands the commitment he made and he still wants to be at Penn State," said Reverend Eugene Lewis, Sr.
As for the schools showing interest? From the CitizensVoice.com report:
Wyoming Valley West coach Pat Keating said he was fielding calls on the behalf of Lewis from North Carolina State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Connecticut, Marshall, Massachusettes and Oregon.
UMass! UMass is out here looking to take players from Penn State. Did you ever think you'd see the day? You sure didn't.
Except for Virginia Tech and Oregon, none of those schools really offer serious championship potential, so it could be that Lewis remains fully locked in after looking at the list of schools on the phone. It remains to be seen whether Lewis sticks around if more come calling, but his staying with PSU would go a long way to convincing others to also stick around.
"At USC, we feel like right now, we're in a perfect storm with so many great things going on," Lane Kiffin began at Pac-12 Media Days.
That standard USC schedule will be a challenge, as will the sanction-induced lack of depth. "Our No. 1 concern is at running back," said Kiffin, and let's just assume that line was meant to reach the ears of Penn State back and potential transfer Silas Redd, who's been courted by the Trojans already. (It's so slim that incoming freshman receiver Nelson Agholor would play running back if the season started today, Kiffin claimed.)
Kiffin and USC have been the model for sanction recovery, turning a scholarship-deprived roster into a preseason No. 1. Asked for what advice he'd give Bill O'Brien, he described the process of possibly losing players as a major challenge. He declined to answer any questions about what USC sees in PSU's roster, saying, "they're just like high school kids."
Matt Barkley repeatedly described the season as "unfinished business," saying how excited he is to finally have a chance to play for a conference and national championship.
Four-star cornerback Ross Douglas was the first player to lose his Penn State association in response to the NCAA's sanctions against the program -- he left the night before, in fact. He's already landed another Big Ten offer and has committed to joining the country's most loaded class:
Ross Douglas has committed to Michigan. He is a Wolverine.— Bill Greene (@BillBankGreene) July 24, 2012
According to Greene, Wisconsin and Notre Dame were also highly interested.
After his exit, PSU is down to 12 commits for 2013. Michigan, meanwhile, already has 23.
Here's what Black Shoe Diaries wrote about Douglas at the time of his PSU commit:
In high school, Douglas plays both RB and DB, but is projected to play corner in college. He is a cover corner, who likes to play about 7-10 yards off the ball. He does seem to have some challenges in jamming receivers coming off the line, which could cause problems with some of the bigger Big 10 receivers. However, Douglas has the speed to make up the difference and seems to be able to read the quarterback well enough to disrupt pass plays. In addition, and somewhat surprisingly, he is more than adequate at playing the run. He also could play some on the offensive side of the ball, as a 3rd down/wildcat type back, and potentially in the return game. No matter where he lines up, Douglas should prove to be an exciting playmaker who, based on his speed and playmaking ability, has the potential to change the game every time he is on the field.
The NCAA's dismantling of Penn State football is going to affect the program for years. It's gonna get bleak, and it's gonna stay that way for a long time.
Just about every player on Penn State's roster has drawn transfer interest from at least one other team's coach by now, but specific names have been coming out since shortly after the NCAA announced players could leave without facing any penalties. In addition to running back Silas Redd (drawing USC interest) and linebacker Khairi Fortt (who reportedly has been in touch with three conferences worth of schools), there's also wide receiver Malik Golden:
Iowa fans have also chattered a lot about the possibility of acquiring Golden. In 2011, Golden took visits to both UConn and Iowa after committing to Penn State. He's been listed at 6'1, 185 pounds and has yet to make a significant dent on the depth chart.
You might remember him from this terrific photo taken of his family on Signing Day.
Yes, it feels weird and gross to talk about Penn State's roster like its an estate auction. But it's what we're stuck with. Coaches have every reason to circle, and players have every reason to look at their options.
And among all the players on PSU's roster, it makes sense that linebacker Khairi Fortt is among the most highly sought so far.
He's got two years of eligibility left, has seen action in 22 games so far, ranked third among all Penn State underclassmen in tackles last year, hasn't been in trouble, and has the stamp of approval from a Linebacker U dean. So this is no surprise:
According to Fortt's father, one of those other schools is indeed Georgia, which has made no secret of its interest in picking up a player or two. Fortt visited UGA on a recruiting trip in 2009, his only visit besides Penn State, according to Rivals. Then again, he's from Connecticut. Cal and Baylor are also said to be making a push.
For his part, Fortt doesn't sound so quick to throw in the towel.
Penn State running back Silas Redd is considering a transfer to USC. He becomes the first player to explore his options following the NCAA sanctions on the school's program.
Penn State players can transfer without having to sit out a year. And with Mark Richt's Georgia squad under the NCAA's scholarship limit, Nittany Lions may become Bulldogs before long. Richt said at a booster meeting Monday night that Georgia will look into the possibility of accepting Penn State transfers, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Jeff Schultz.
"We do have some space available and if somebody fits a need and they’re excited about coming we would look into that possibility," he said at the Cobb Galleria Centre. "There may not be anybody. But we’re at least going to explore. … I don’t want people to think we’re trying to load up a bunch of them. It could be zero, it could be one or two."
Richt could be in search of a running back. Or a defensive back. Or ... well, Steve Spurrier could probably tell you more.
For more on Georgia, visit Dawg Sports and SB Nation Atlanta, shawty. For more on Nittany Lions football, visit Penn State blog Black Shoe Diaries, plus Big Ten blog Off Tackle Empire, SB Nation Pittsburgh and SB Nation Philly.
The NCAA hit Penn State harder than the death penalty, and Nittany Lions recruiting is unlikely to recover for at least a decade.
When SMU was hit with the death penalty in the '80s, it was actually only a one-year thing. The Mustangs missed two years of football because they couldn't field enough players the second year due to other punishments. We might see something similar happen to Penn State after the NCAA's heavy, heavy penalties were announced Monday morning.
The NCAA says it's considering allowing schools to tack PSU transfers on top of their own current scholarship counts without any penalty, meaning other teams could essentially get players who don't count against the "salary cap," so to speak. Meaning even Alabama could take on Penn State players.
If that happens, the Nittany Lions' roster could be completely picked apart to such a degree that competition could be pointless for the time being. And each player that leaves Penn State only increases the chances of more leaving.
Even before that stipulation was announced as under consideration, coaches across the nation were eying Penn State's roster for potential acquisitions. It might be open season now.
More from the NCAA's release on player transfers:
- Football student-athletes who transfer will not have to sit out a year of competition. Any incoming or currently enrolled football student-athlete will be immediately eligible upon transfer or initial enrollment at an NCAA institution, provided they are admitted and otherwise eligible per NCAA regulations.
- Penn State will release any incoming student-athletes from the National Letter of Intent.
- Permission-to-contact rules will be suspended. Penn State cannot restrict in any way a student-athlete from pursuing a possible transfer. Student-athletes must simply inform Penn State of their interest in discussing transfer options with other schools. Interested schools also must inform Penn State of their intention to open discussions with the student-athlete.
- Official and unofficial visit rules will be loosened. Any incoming or currently enrolled football student-athletes interested in taking an official or unofficial visit will be permitted to do so during the 2012-13 academic year, no matter how many visits they took during their recruitment. Institutions seeking to provide an official visit to a student who already visited the school as many times as NCAA legislation allows can seek relief from the NCAA on a case-by-case basis.
Additionally, the NCAA is considering waiving scholarship limits for programs to which these football student-athletes transfer, provided they reduce proportionately in the next year. For example, the limit is 25 new scholarships per year to a total of 85 scholarships. If the limits are waived in 2012-13 to accommodate one Penn State student-athlete who wishes to transfer to a particular school already at the limits, in 2013-14 the school will be limited to 24 new scholarships and 84 total scholarships.
The NCAA didn't have to get involved in the Jerry Sandusky coverup tragedy, but it chose to do so anyway. At a 9 a.m. ET press conference, NCAA president Mark Emmert announced his punishments against Penn State -- his punishments, because he used the NCAA's constitution to subvert the NCAA's standard governing process in order to punish Penn State with greater haste.
There's no death penalty, meaning the Nittany Lions will still get to play football this year and onward. But, as reported, the rest of the penalties are so dire that a year off the gridiron might actually be less damaging for PSU's coaches, players, staff, and fans.
Here's the rundown:
Before the list of sanctions, NCAA executive committee chair Edward Ray called Penn State's coverup "reckless" and defended the NCAA's involvement in the scandal.
"Not only does the NCAA have the authority, we have the responsibility," Ray said.
Penn State isn't out of the woods yet -- not even its football program has its full list of damage at hand. The Big Ten can still choose to punish Penn State in just about any way conceivable, from witholding conference revenue to forbidding trips to the Big Ten Championship Game and so on. Indeed, the Big Ten will announce something one way or the other Monday as well.
The school could choose also to limit its own football program in addition to what's being imposed.
And this is all outside of what's going to be levied against the university itself by the Department of Education and perhaps other government agencies, which could make the worst the NCAA can do look like nothing by comparison.
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