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.