Raiding Penn State: Could Buckeyes Land Former Nits?
By Brandon Castel
As if to remind everyone the football gods have a sense of a humor after Monday’s sobering day of sanctions, Penn State running back Silas Redd is considering a transfer to USC.
Yes, the same USC that has been banned from postseason play the last two seasons is now actively recruiting the Nittany Lions’ junior tailback, according to ESPN’s Joe Schad.
The Trojans informed Penn State of their intentions just hours after school was hit with a four-year bowl band and crippling scholarship reductions that could lead to a mass exodus in State College.
It’s irony at its finest—one program fresh off NCAA sanctions looking to pick off the scraps from a still-warm Penn State carcass, as other predators begin to circle around Bill O’Brien’s wounded program.
As a 1,200-yard rusher a year ago, Redd would be the major prize for any contender looking to bolster its rushing attack for the 2012-13 seasons. The Norwalk, Conn. native averaged over five yards per carry last season, but he isn’t the only Nittany Lion who could be on the market.
Of all the groups least likely to abandon Penn State in its hour of need, members of the 2012 senior class will likely want to go down with the ship. At least most of them will.
That group includes quarterback Matt McGloin, center Matt Stankiewitch, fullback Mike Zordich and receiver Justin Brown; along with a number of players on the defensive side of the ball.
The key names would be linebackers Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges, but Penn State’s defensive line also features three seniors. Cornerback Stephon Morris anchors the team’s secondary.
Even if one of those guys wanted to play somewhere else, it likely would not be Ohio State. The Buckeyes are currently under their NCAA-mandated limit of 82 scholarships after the departures of Brian Bobek (transfer to Minnesota) and Storm Klein (dismissed) this off-season.
The NCAA will allow them to go over that limit for the 2012 season, but any underclassman would start to count again in 2013. Seniors would never have to be counted against the scholarship limit, but which ones are going to leave Penn State to play for another team that is ineligible of postseason play in 2012?
It just doesn’t add up.
Looking at Underclassmen
Outside of Zordich, the only other Ohio native on O’Brien’s entire current roster is Nate Cadogan, an offensive tackle from down in Portsmouth. He is the younger brother of former PSU All-American offensive tackle Gerald Cadogan, but Nate is not projected as a starter for the Nits this fall as a junior.
The Buckeyes already raided Penn State’s 2012 class after Meyer took the job in November, so there aren’t many freshmen OSU would have much interest in at this point.
That’s assuming they had any room to begin with.
Every underclassman Ohio State would consider taking from Penn State would mean one less player in their 2013 recruiting class. It doesn’t seem like a reasonable trade-off for Meyer, who already has to be selective in filling out the rest of this class as it is.
Strangely enough, the Buckeyes haven’t lost many recruiting battles to the Nittany Lions since Joe Paterno landed Zordich, Brandon Beachum and Jack Crawford back in 2008. Even then, only Zordich had an OSU offer.
It sounds like Elite 11 quarterback Christian Hackenberg, a key part of PSU's 2013 class, could be looking at South Carolina or Auburn if he de-commits. That would likely mark the first domino to fall in the deconstruction of Penn State’s entire class.
The most interesting piece to watch will be tight end Adam Breneman—one of the top rated TE's in the country. He texted The Patriot-News Monday to say he was still committed to Penn State, but it seems unlikely he will sign with the Nittany Lions for the next four years of his life.
A lifelong PSU fan, Breneman would want to do the noble thing by staying committed. He probably thinks he can weather the storm, but eventually reality will set in. The program is headed for the Dark Ages over the 4-5 years, but don’t look for Breneman to end up in Columbus.
Ohio State was a finalist, but Meyer already has a TE for 2013 in Marcus Baugh and Breneman is currently rehabbing a torn ACL. That won’t scare anyone away, but rumor has Maryland as the front-runner to land the Camp Hill (Pa.) Cedar Cliff prospect if he does jump ship.
The guy to watch for is 6-6 offensive tackle Dorian Johnson. The 4-star out of Belle Vernon (suburb of Pittsburgh) is still committed to Penn State, but had the Buckeyes in his final four, along with Pitt and West Virginia.
Meyer needs another offensive lineman in his class, but he will have his work cut out for him with Johnson. Even if he does back out of his commitment, Pitt and WVU appear to have a slight edge on the Buckeyes.
Other kids OSU could look at are WR Zach Bradshaw and CB Ross Douglas, the latter of whom already de-committed from Penn State on Monday.
It’s hard to project what is going to happen with 2013, let alone future classes, but the NCAA sanctions leveled on Penn State will cripple their recruiting efforts for the next 4-5 years.
The Nittany Lions can only take 15 kids a year, and have to be down to 65 total scholarships by 2014. That’s 20 fewer than non-sanctioned FBS programs.
In other words, it’s open season on Western Pennsylvania; and really all the way to the coast.
Schools like Pitt, Maryland, WVU, Ohio State and even Rutgers should all benefit from the Happy Valley powerhouse being on the sidelines for most key recruiting battles. Here’s a look at some players in 2014 who will likely be effected by the sanctions.
QB Drew Barker (6-3, 204, Burlington, Ky.)
QB A.J. Long (6-0, 176, Bangor, Pa.)
RB Jonathan Haden (5-8, 190, Washington D.C.)
OL Sam Madaras (6-3, 325, Olney, Md.)
OL Sam Mustipher (6-4, 286, Olney, Md.)
DE Da’shawn Hand (6-4, 245, Woodbridge, Va.)
LB Michael Ferns (6-3, 235, Saint Clairsville, Ohio)
LB Dante Booker (6-3, 210, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary)
LB Justice Rawlin (6-2, 220, Monessen, Pa.)
LB Melvin Keihn (6-3, 215, Baltimore, Md.)
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