Analyzing Impact Penn State Football Transfers Will Have on Their New Teams

Adam JacobiBig Ten Football Lead WriterAugust 6, 2012

Analyzing Impact Penn State Football Transfers Will Have on Their New Teams

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    Penn State has been rocked by NCAA sanctions, and perhaps none are as damaging to Penn State's future as the combination of heavy scholarship restrictions and a lifting of transfer restrictions.

    With that, the NCAA has effectively wedged the barn door open, and more than a couple Nittany Lions have taken the opportunity to find greener pastures. So it goes.

    With that, then, it's time to look at where these guys have ended up (hint: most of them aren't slumming it), what it means for the new team and how hard a hit it is for Penn State. 

Justin Brown, WR: Oklahoma

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    What It Means to Oklahoma

    The Sooners have been working to get Jaz Reynolds and Trey Franks, two suspended wide receivers, back on the field and in the coach's good graces. Both of those guys look to be on that path as of now, but adding Justin Brown means Oklahoma is a lot closer to being set at wideout than it was a month ago.

     

    Where He'll Play

    Brown's size and skill set mean he's best suited to playing on the edge, rather than in any sort of slot role. 

     

    How Much He'll Play

    The Bob Stoops-era Sooners are nothing if not aerial wizards, and that means plenty of opportunities for wideouts. The amount of work Brown gets depends mostly on whether Reynolds and Franks can continue on the road back to reinstatement on the team. At this point, it looks like they will; they're practicing, at the very least. But Brown's not in any doghouse, so expect him to be firmly in the mix as soon as he's up to speed on the playbook.

     

    Devastation to PSU: 10/10

    Yeah, this is the big one for Penn State. With Silas Redd, at the very least, there's a somewhat workable solution personnel-wise to replacing the production PSU is losing from him. There isn't a replacement for Brown on the roster. He was the clear top wideout, and now we're at the point where it's time to hope "Matt McGloin to Garry Gilliam" is the most unstoppable hookup in the Big Ten. It probably isn't.

Ryan Nowicki, OL: Illinois

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    What It Means to Illinois

    Finally, vindication for Tim Beckman and his staff! Beckman quite famously sent the vast majority of his coaching staff to State College in order to put the full-court press on Penn State players, which, as you might imagine, didn't thrill the vast majority of the team.

    But Ryan Nowicki was pickin' up what Beckman's guys were puttin' down, so who's the fool now, eh?

     

    Where He'll Play

    Illinois' offensive line is a little rough, and while Nowicki has the versatility to play multiple positions on the line, he's ideally a tackle at 6'5" and 280 (and growing).

     

    How Much He'll Play

    Illinois might be hurting on the line, but Nowicki wasn't up for any meaningful playing time at Penn State this year, and he's not going to be the solution to any problems for the Illini either. If he plays, it's either garbage time or things have gone horribly wrong in Champaign. 

     

    Devastation to PSU: 3/10

    You want to see guys stay, and you especially want to keep guys from transferring to another Big Ten school, but the reality is that Nowicki wasn't anywhere on the depth chart, and Penn State is set at tackle for the next few years. Still, stocking division rivals' offensive lines for them sucks pretty hard, and there's no way around that.

Anthony Fera, K: Texas

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    What It Means to Texas

    This move is more about what it means to Fera than for the Longhorns. Fera explained in a statement after his transfer that he's mainly moving to be closer to a family member with multiple sclerosis so they can watch him play without the struggle associated with traveling to Pennsylvania and back.

    It's the type of situation where the NCAA might have waived the one-year restriction even if Penn State weren't in trouble.

     

    Where He'll Play

    Fera comes into a familiar situation in Austin. Last year, Texas depended exclusively on Justin Tucker for kickoffs, punts and field goals; Tucker has since graduated. Fera filled all those roles for Penn State last year, and at the very least, he'll have an opportunity to do so at all three levels for Texas too. 

     

    How Much He'll Play

    As much as he can. Kicking and punting aren't things that depend on a deep knowledge of any playbooks, so Fera should be able to hit the ground running for the Longhorns. 

     

    Devastation to PSU: 9/10

    Fera was, by himself, Penn State's leg in the special teams department. There are replacements there, and punter Alex Butterworth actually saw a few reps last year in Fera's stead. But nobody on that roster has demonstrated anything close to Fera's abilities in competition, and Penn State will absolutely suffer if its special teams lag behind its opponents'.

Khairi Fortt, LB: California

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    What It Means to California

    The California defense was stellar last year—the best in total defense in the offensively charged Pac-12—but its top four tacklers have all graduated, so gaining a veteran tackler like Khairi Fortt is potentially huge for the Golden Bears. If Fortt's healthy, he's a likely starter.

     

    Where He'll Play

    Don't expect Fortt to move to the outside. He's rehabbing a sprained knee right now, so position changes are sort of out of the question until he can get on the field at close to 100 percent and coaches can evaluate his performance. Mychal Kendricks (a second-round pick by the Eagles) played on the inside for Cal, and that's where we should see Fortt too.

     

    How Much He'll Play

    It could be that Fortt doesn't play at all this year; he's still working on that sprained knee, and he does have a redshirt year to burn regardless of his immediate playing eligibility. If he is healthy, though, he's an absolute asset to Cal and should press for a starting role very soon. 

     

    Devastation to PSU: 6/10

    Unless Glenn Carson goes down for any meaningful amount of time, Penn State's starting trio at linebacker should stay the same this year—and even in case of MLB emergency, Michael Mauti has played there too, so PSU's set.

    That said, Fortt is very talented, and he's the kind of guy Penn State needed to keep for 2013 and beyond. The talent level is substantially lower without Fortt, and it's tough to see how Penn State replaces him.

Jamil Pollard, DT: Rutgers

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    What It Means to Rutgers

    It's nice picking up a coveted final piece of a recruiting class after signing day, and it's especially nice six months after the fact. Jamil Pollard doesn't affect the defensive line situation for Rutgers right now, but we're looking at a multi-year starter in the making here.

     

    Where He'll Play

    Pollard is an interior lineman through and through; he's 6'4" and a lean 280 pounds. But he's got a frame to move to guard if Rutgers needs him there, even though DT is probably his better position at this point. As a true freshman, though, he has the luxury of time to explore his best fit with the Scarlet Knights.

     

    How Much He'll Play

    Don't expect to see Pollard play much, if at all, this season; Rutgers is loaded at defensive tackle this season and Pollard isn't one of the rare types that can step in at DT in Year 1. Once the depth situation clears up and Pollard adds some mass, though, he should be getting snaps next year and starting shortly thereafter.

     

    Devastation to PSU: 6/10

    Pollard wasn't likely to play right away for Penn State either, so he's not going to affect the win-loss picture this year. But he's the kind of guy Penn State needed to keep around to stay competitive in the Big Ten over the next few years, because he's a Big Ten-caliber player. 

Rob Bolden, QB: LSU

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    What It Means to LSU

    This is an odd selection by LSU. Obviously, Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee both struggled for the Tigers last year, and Les Miles wants to avoid that, but Bolden isn't the kind of guy who's going to press Zach Mettenberger for playing time. Les Miles did say he expected Bolden to be a "good teammate," so perhaps Miles just wanted another veteran in the locker room.

     

    Where He'll Play

    We expect Bolden to gain 90 pounds and be the first 300-pound free safety. We expect that because Les Miles is his coach now, and Les Miles is a crazy person. 

     

    How Much He'll Play

    Jokes aside, it'll be interesting to see where Bolden fits on a depth chart that basically consists of Mettenberger and freshmen. Bolden's a known quantity, though, and that quantity isn't very good, so don't expect much playing time out of him unless he essentially turns into a new player.

     

    Devastation to PSU: 1/10

    Bolden had slipped to third on the depth chart behind Matt McGloin and Paul Jones, and after last year, most PSU fans would have been happy to pack Bolden's bags for him and send him on his way. 

Kevin Haplea, TE: Florida State

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    What It Means to Florida State

    Everyone noticed Silas Redd transferring out, but this is the type of move by Florida State that, while unsexy, could prove to be huge down the road. Kevin Haplea fills a need, and that's what you want out of a transfer.  

     

    Where He'll Play

    Haplea is a tight end through and through at 6'4" and 248 pounds. With only a month before the season kicks off, don't expect FSU to tinker much with Haplea's physique or skill set. 

     

    How Much He'll Play

    If FSU is lucky, it'll get a lot out of Haplea; the depth situation is pretty wide open with only sophomore Nick O'Leary getting any meaningful playing time last year. Don't expect big receiving numbers from Haplea since that's not really his forte, but he should be a strong contributor on the field anyway.

     

    Devastation to PSU: 3/10

    Haplea is a beast as a blocker, but he had been passed over at the tight end-F position by redshirt freshman Kyle Carter on Penn State's latest depth chart.

    Generally speaking, losing a guy who's backing up someone two classes behind him isn't much of a blow, though losing experience like Haplea's is rough.

Silas Redd, RB: USC

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    What It Means to USC

    The Trojans bring back 1,000-yard rusher Curtis McNeal for his senior season, but McNeal's generally at his limit at 15-20 carries a game, and rugged he's not. With Redd sharing the backfield, USC has the ability to run the ball whenever and wherever it wants.

    Oh, and it also has Matt Barkley and the two best wideouts in the game. Life is not fair. 

     

    Where He'll Play

    Redd's not a fullback by any stretch, but if he shares the field with McNeal, he'll be the "power" guy. That said, if it's Redd and not McNeal on the field, Redd can fill any role USC needs from a tailback. He's a complete back.

     

    How Much He'll Play

    Redd's going to be on the field early and often. He's probably not going to be in direct competition with McNeal for carries—that's a tandem, not a totem pole—but if someone struggles, sure, the other guy should be in line for a bigger share of the action. And Silas Redd's not the kind of guy who struggles.

     

    Devastation to PSU: 9/10

    The Nittany Lions can probably get about 100 yards a game from a combination of Bill Belton and Curtis Dukes, but neither of those guys is someone you give 20 carries per game to—especially against Big Ten defenses.

    Redd was a workhorse and looked by all means to be the centerpiece of the Penn State offense, and now he's gone. No getting around it—that's brutal.

Tim Buckley, S: North Carolina State

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    What It Means to North Carolina State

    Buckley is a walk-on who redshirted last season. He was second on the depth chart at free safety behind Malcolm Willis, but that's as much a function of how thin the Penn State secondary is as anything else. Put it this way: The seismographs at NCSU are staying quiet on this one.

     

    Where He'll Play

    One would assume Buckley will stay at free safety, though switching between the safety positions isn't that much of a task—and players with safety skill sets at the next level can be contributors at cornerback in the right coverage scheme. 

     

    How Much He'll Play

    For NCSU's sake, we hope the answer is "not very much." Or at least not much in 2012; walk-ons can develop into solid contributors if they keep at it for a few years, and there's no reason to think that's off the table for Buckley. But in 2012, a redshirt freshman walk-on shouldn't be a difference-maker in your secondary. 

     

    Devastation to PSU: 1/10

    The Penn State secondary can't keep bleeding bodies, no matter how far down they are in the depth chart. But Buckley's never going to be the difference between a win and a loss, and this is the type of loss every team goes through every year.