The Penn State scandal may be galvanizing most of the Nittany Lions for the long haul, but it just cost the team its offensive workhorse.
According to ESPN's Joe Schad and Dave Ruden of CTNews.com, Silas Redd has decided to transfer to Southern California. Per the NCAA's sanctions against Penn State, Redd is not required to sit out for one year, and he will have two years of eligibility with the Trojans.
This is a tough blow for Penn State, and there's just no way around that fact. Redd was the main engine of the offense last season, and with no upgrade at QB (and a worse WR corps), he looked to be even more important to the offense in 2012.
Now, he's going to have that same chance to excel for Southern California, and although that's a massive upgrade for him, it's a kick to the groin for Penn State.
In terms of returning talent, there's some, but not a lot. Junior Curtis Dukes is still weighing his options but "leaning towards staying here and just stick it out," per a text message he sent to the Watertown Daily Times. Dukes is now the leading returning rusher with 41 rushes for 237 yards and a score.
Bill Belton announced on Twitter earlier that he's staying and changing his uniform number to 1; he added 13 rushes for 65 yards and two TDs as a freshman in 2011. Akeel Lynch will be a true freshman this fall; he's not on campus yet and has not publicly re-committed to Penn State.
And that's basically it for Penn State's backfield. Derek Day is a senior whose role has been primarily as a special teams contributor; for his career, he has seven carries and 17 tackles. Zach Zwinak is a big back and could factor in as a red-zone option, but he's not a 20-carry-a-game guy at all. Deron Thompson is a preferred walk-on who redshirted last season.
There, that's all Penn State has to offer now.
That gang of five players isn't a bad band of backups to Redd, but unless either Dukes, Belton or maybe even Lynch steps up (and that's possible; Belton was a four-star recruit who played as a true freshman), the running game's in a world of hurt—and remember, Matt McGloin is still the starting quarterback.
Penn State fans may not be sad to see Redd go for purely emotional reasons, since there's no sense in feeling bad about players leaving if they're not fully committed to the program. But there'll almost certainly be occasions this season—numerous, at that—where it'll be painfully obvious to Penn State fans that the team could really use Redd back there.