Transfer bug bites Nittany Lions
One of the repercussions of the NCAA's sanctions levied against the Penn State football team was the fact that players were free to transfer anywhere. They would be permitted to leave University Park and transfer to any school without having to sit out a season.
In the weeks since the sanctions were announced, nine players have decided to jump ship. Some were crucial parts to Penn State's puzzle and they will be sorely missed.
With the 2012 Nittany Lions' season rapidly approaching, let's take a closer look at some of the key departures.
u Silas Redd — Without a doubt, Redd is the biggest loss. First-year coach Bill O'Brien faces the daunting task of trying to replace Redd's yards. The 5-foot-10, 209-pound junior rushed for over 1,200 yards and seven touchdowns in 2011. Redd finally came into his own last season after spending his freshman year in the shadows of Penn State all-time leading running back Evan Royster.
Leaving Penn State probably wasn't an easy decision for Redd, but it made sense. By playing at USC, Redd becomes an instant Heisman Trophy candidate. He'll also play in a big bowl game and have a much bigger stage to showcase his skills to his future employers in the NFL.
u Khairi Fortt — The 6-2, 238-pound junior was going to be the next stud at Linebacker U. However, that changed when Fortt announced that he was leaving Penn State to play at Cal. This leaves a large hole in O'Brien's linebacking unit. According to numerous published reports, nearly 40 teams contacted Fortt. Although he's from Stamford, Conn., he chose Cal because it was one of his original choices. The Bears originally lost out to the Nittany Lions.
Last week, Fortt decided to reverse his field. He figures to play inside linebacker for Cal coach Jeff Tedford.
u Anthony Fera — Make no mistake about it, Fera's loss is huge. The 6-2, 230-pound senior handled every aspect of the Nittany Lions' kicking game. His departure leaves a big hole on special teams. In 2011, he was selected as a Lou Groza Collegiate Placekicker Award semifinalist. He was also a candidate for the Ray Guy Award, which is given annually to the nation's top punter. He was selected as a first-team All-Big Ten punter by ESPN.com and second-team all-conference by the media and coaches.
Fera is headed to Texas so he can be closer to his family. His mother is ill and he said that played a large role in his decision to transfer.
u Justin Brown — Brown is headed to Oklahoma, where he will play just one season for the Sooners. Like Redd, Brown's loss will be a huge hit to the offense. He was Penn State's second-leading receiver last season, catching 35 balls for 517 yards. At 6-3, 210 pounds, Brown becomes the biggest receiver on the OU roster.
He was Penn State's most experienced receiver. Without his name in the lineup, the Nittany Lions will have to find someone who can fill his shoes quickly. He finished his career at Penn State with 1,047 receiving yards.
u Kevin Haplea — O'Brien loves to throw the ball to the tight end, but even that wasn't enough to keep Haplea in the fold. The 6-4, 248-pounder figured to get some touches this season, but in the end he decided to pack his bags and head south.
Haplea will play for Jimbo Fisher at Florida State.
While Haplea wasn't going to start for the Lions, he was going to see significant playing time. At FSU, he'll compete for the starting job with Will Tye, who was primarily a blocker for the Seminoles.
u Jamil Pollard — Pollard was a member of Penn State's Class of 2012. The 6-5, 280-pound defensive tackle decided to take his talents to Rutgers. Although he can play both ways, most experts believe that Pollard will wind up on the defensive side of the ball.
He was a four-star recruit, according to numerous recruiting websites.
u Rob Bolden — The biggest head-scratcher of the transfers was Bolden. Not because he left — he's wanted out of Penn State for the past couple of years — but because of where he went.
Bolden is now playing for Les Miles at LSU. Bolden heads to LSU knowing that he won't start. He'll compete for the chance to be a backup, the exact same thing he pouted about at Penn State. While his win-loss record at Penn State was solid at 11-5, he'll go down in PSU lore as being one of the worst starting quarterbacks to ever put on the blue and white. He was 0-4 against Top 25 teams and most of those losses weren't close.