SEC Football: Where Current Penn State Players Could Fit
The NCAA hammer dropped on Penn State on Monday, and with that came a unique set of circumstances that rarely happens in college football.
All Penn State players are allowed to transfer and be eligible at their new school without sitting out a year.
Essentially, the NCAA made every player on the Penn State roster a free agent.
We've already seen several SEC coaches say that they are interested in current Penn State players, or would be interested if specific players approached them. What SEC schools are good fits for Penn State players? We examine in this slide show.
Running Back Silas Redd
Silas Redd is arguably the biggest fish in the Penn State pond.
As a sophomore in 2011, Redd rushed for 1,241 yards and seven touchdowns last season. The 5'10", 210-pounder already has drawn the attention of the USC Trojans and would be a welcomed addition to any SEC team—particularly those with some uncertainty at the running back position.
Which SEC schools would benefit the most from Redd?
Auburn, Mississippi State, Georgia and Florida come to mind.
Auburn's Onterio McCalebb and Mississippi State's LaDarius Perkins are each the most established running back on their respective roster, but are more changeup backs than between-the-tackles bruisers. Redd can pound it inside and would take a lot of pressure off each of them.
In the case of Georgia and Florida, they just need able bodies at running back. The dismissal of Isaiah Crowell put more doubt on Georgia's depth chart, and the addition of Redd would go a long way towards stabilizing it.
In Florida's case, the Gators just need options. The last between-the-tackles threat in Gainesville was quarterback Tim Tebow.
Linebacker Gerald Hodges
If any SEC team is looking for some quality help at linebacker, Gerald Hodges might warrant a call.
The first-team All-Big Ten selection from a year ago tallied 106 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and one interception last season. The rising senior has only one season of eligibility left, but can certainly provide a boost for an SEC team that's looking for linebackers.
Auburn has senior Daren Bates lining up outside, but could certainly use Hodges to spell/push weakside linebacker Jonathan Evans.
Penn State may be known as "Linebacker U," but Alabama holds SEC's version of that moniker. The departure of Courtney Upshaw has created some open playing time that is expected to be filled by Adrian Hubbard. Hubbard has tremendous upside, but some options wouldn't hurt.
LSU lost outside linebacker Ryan Baker, and Hodges could certainly compete with Tahj Jones to play alongside middle linebacker Kevin Minter.
Linebacker Michael Mauti
Linebacker Michael Mauti doesn't have the accolades of his fellow outside linebacker, Gerald Hodges, but he has NFL-level caliber talent.
The rising senior had 21 tackles, three tackles for loss and one interceptions last season, and could probably benefit more than Hodges if he decides to go to greener pastures. The NFL will find you no matter where you are, but being competitive at the highest level in college will speed up that process.
SEC schools like Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Kentucky could provide Mauti the exposure of the SEC and opportunities to step in and play significant time at outside linebacker.
Running Back Bill Belton
A former high school quarterback and wide receiver, Bill Belton saw time as a wildcat quarterback in 2011 and is expected to be a contributor behind Silas Redd in 2012.
The 5'10", 196-pounder rushed 13 times for 66 yards and one touchdown as a freshman last season. He was a 4-star prospect in the class of 2011, according to Scout.com. With three years of eligibility remaining, Belton's size and ability to play multiple positions should make him a very attractive player to anyone looking for a playmaker.
Belton would be a good fit for offensively-challenged teams like Florida and Auburn and can be useful in spread offenses like the ones at Texas A&M, Missouri and Ole Miss.
Quarterback Steven Bench
Steven Bench is a 6'3", 205-pound quarterback that recently enrolled at Penn State as part of the Class of 2012. Due to the sanctions, he has no shot at playing for a championship of any kind.
Here's the kicker—he's from Camilla, Ga., right in the heart of SEC country.
Bench was a 3-star prospect last season, according to 247Sports.com, and certainly worth consideration from SEC schools looking to taking a flier on a quarterback after seeing what's there (or not there) this spring.
Having depth at quarterback is never a bad thing, and Bench is certainly capable of providing that.