In the wake of punishments from the NCAA that will set the program back for years, many current Penn State football players are considering transferring. Most notable among these is Silas Redd, the Nittany Lions’ starting running back who rushed for 1,241 yards and seven touchdowns in 2011.
The sanctions upon Penn State allow their players to transfer without having to sit out a season, compared to the usual transfer rules that mandate a player sit out one season if transferring within Division I. This means Redd, a rising junior, would have two years of eligibility remaining if he stays for his senior season.
The afternoon after the NCAA announced its sanctions, rumors of Redd considering a transfer to USC started to emerge. These rumors turned into facts, as Redd met with USC head coach Lane Kiffin yesterday (per Joe Schad of ESPN.com). And according to ESPN’s Colin Cowherd, he will be visiting Southern California this weekend.
Let it be known that Redd to USC is not a done deal. USC needs to free up a scholarship, likely doing so with incoming freshman Darreus Rogers’ ineligibility, while Redd has not yet officially committed to the Trojans.
Still, it looks very likely as of Friday morning. There are mixed opinions of the morality of recruiting Penn State players following the NCAA ruling Monday. Some consider it a “poaching” of players—an essential period of free agency on the college football front.
Yet, Kiffin should not be denounced for being immoral, nor should Redd be branded a traitor. Part of Kiffin’s job requires him to bring top-notch talent to the USC program in order to build a winning football program. Meanwhile, Redd is in a situation at Penn State that is not the Paterno-coached, squeaky program he signed up for when he committed coming out of high school.
Is Redd available? Yes. Would USC benefit from his addition to a running back position so depleted that 5-star wide receiver recruit Nelson Agholor has moved to the backfield? Yes. It would be a blow to the Penn State program, but there is nothing wrong in this mutually beneficial proposition.
A main reason thrown in the speculation over Redd’s transfer is the expected prowess of the Trojan football program over the next two seasons. The Trojans are national title contenders this fall with Matt Barkley, Robert Woods, and T.J. McDonald leading the way. There might be drop-off next season with a new quarterback, but Redd could join Barkley in the NFL by then.
Redd has the talent to be a feature back. However, it’s not ridiculous to say that he would not start in 2012. Curtis “Moody” McNeal rushed for over 1000 yards in 2011 with a staggering 6.9 yards to carry. The current senior wrestled the job away from Marc Tyler and D.J. Morgan last year, and has been preparing to be the feature back this fall.
McNeal was only preparing for his sole as the main man due to a lack of reliable depth at running back. D.J. Morgan has always fought injuries, spring practice lightning bug Tre Madden blew out his knee and is out for the season, while Buck Allen is a question mark as a redshirt freshman. For USC, McNeal receiving a brunt of the carries made the most sense.
With Redd, that focus changes. Lane Kiffin favors a two-back system, and would split carries almost evenly between Redd and McNeal barring any injuries or struggles by Redd to adjust to a new system.
If he moves away from Penn State, he will lose his role as a feature back but will benefit in the long run. If he stays in State College, carrying the ball 30 times a game is not out of the question. Penn State starting quarterback Matt McGloin has been iffy in his two years as starter, which means opposing Big Ten defenses will likely game-plan the Nittany Lions by loading up in the box in order to bring Redd down.
Redd will amass yards through attrition, but this also means one, maybe two more seasons of enduring hits from powerful Big Ten defensive lineman and linebackers. The Pac-12 is improving on the defensive side, but the wide-open style of USC’s offense with Barkley at the helm will take attention away from Redd.
The expiration date on running backs comes much sooner than most positions on the gridiron, so Redd would be able to reduce his load in college while still receiving national exposure and sufficient attention to not degrade his draft stock.
If he decides to stay for his senior season, then McNeal will have graduated and Redd will be the Trojans’ feature back and senior leader anyways.
A decision probably won’t come until next week. Still, for Silas Redd a move across the country to play his remaining Saturdays in Memorial Coliseum would be ultimately beneficial for both his college legacy and NFL future. Not to mention his ring finger.