Since the initial announcement of PSU’s “almost death-penalty” 62 current scholarship players have publicly stated they’re staying with the program (spreadsheet courtesy of Nittany Lions blog Black Shoe Diaries). Six top recruits from the class of 2013 all showed some impressive solidarity the other day when they reaffirmed their commitment to the school via Twitter. After all the doomsday predictions and sky-is-falling rhetoric about the beleaguered program, the first player to officially leave the program only did so yesterday.
But is that just the beginning of what may be a larger wave of fallout? Tim Buckley, former PSU safety and Raleigh native, officially jumped ship to his hometown NC State yesterday. While just a two-star player out of high school, Buckley was not sticking around to see how much playing time he could gain by other defections and now finds himself much closer to home (though not much closer to starting right now). Buckley’s departure may not make ripples in the big scheme of things, but it’s a warning shot for the other two big names in PSU transfer conversations.
Along with Buckley’s move to the Wolfpack, it was also reported that four-star DT Greg Webb, who’d previously provided a soft verbal commitment to Penn State, is now headed to North Carolina. Webb’s in extremely high regard as a prospect and potentially top-10 at his position nationally. He was not part of the contingent of six to declare their Twitter loyalty the other day. And obviously, neither was star running back Silas Redd. The team’s top rusher last year, Redd’s been considered as good as gone since last week and now, we may be able to confirm by today. If Redd heads to USC, it not only shores up the one truly weak area for the Trojans, but it may get some others rethinking their decisions to stick around.
Again, for the most part, Penn State’s current and future football team has stuck together and appear ready to rebuild the program under a new leader. But remember, this heavily sanctioned team has yet to play a game yet. Maybe — and this is completely hypothetical — after one 6-6 season in which the team is run through the media whipping cycle, players start to get tired. Perhaps the idea of not participating in the postseason doesn’t seem all that terrible to players now, but maybe it will after a season knowing you’ll get no rewards for your efforts. There’s also the ill-advised idea to schedule a 13th game in Hawaii each season (with what money, Bill O’Brien?!), which could also swing current players and recruits back in favor of the team. As much as it looks like this team may be out of the woods, there’s still plenty that can happen, with the pendulum easily swinging in any direction. If I’m an ACC head coach, I’m still keeping tabs on these players as the season begins.