Catching up with PSU's transfers

September, 30, 2012
9/30/12
10:30
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Nine players transferred around the time the sanctions were announced, and NittanyNation has checked in with each player to see how he's doing on his new team.

We've taken a look at their playing time and stats -- and have tried to answer whether each player is better off with the move. We're not talking bowl games or individual priorities here; we're strictly answering whether the exposure/playing time is better on the new squad.

(Derrick Thomas and Devon Smith are not included because they left the team in June, a month before the sanctions hit.) QB Rob Bolden, junior, LSU
Synopsis: Despite a subpar performance so far from Zach Mettenberger, Bolden still hasn't participated in a single play this season. He's the emergency QB right now, behind redshirt freshman Stephen Rivers, but he could be used as a change-of-pace signal-caller later in the season.

Is he better off? Yes. There's more quarterback controversy in LSU right now than there is in Happy Valley. He has an opening to see some playing time down the road, but he likely wouldn't have seen the field at Penn State. He was listed behind Paul Jones in the spring ... and Bill O'Brien ended up putting Jones at tight end because of his play. Bolden would not have challenged at PSU but might have some better luck at LSU.

WR Justin Brown, senior, Oklahoma
Synopsis: He has become Landry Jones' No. 2 target and has 12 catches for 135 yards and no touchdowns. He helps Jones spread the field a little more and has been a boon to special teams. He has returned six punts this season for an average of 22 yards.

Is he better off? No. If this was Penn State's old offense, the answer would be a resounding yes. But not anymore. He could have been Matt McGloin's top target -- or at least his top downfield target. Allen Robinson is now on the Biletnikoff Award watch list, so it would have been interesting to see where an experienced wideout like Brown could have fit into the equation. At Oklahoma, he may currently be Jones' No. 2, but four receivers have at least 10 catches. He could wind up No. 3 or No. 4 in receptions by the end of the season.

DT Jamil Pollard, freshman, Rutgers
Synopsis: The Scarlet Knights have a plethora of talent on the defensive line, so it's no surprise Pollard will redshirt this season. He'll have to work hard in the future to find a spot on the interior here, and it could be another two seasons before he really sees any meaningful time.

Is he better off? We'll take some advice from the Magic 8-ball here -- "Ask again later." He was the only Class of 2012 prospect to bolt Penn State, and he's so young that it's difficult to say whether the move will benefit him in the end. The depth on the interior definitely seems like more of a challenge than it would have been at Penn State, but he likely would have redshirted at PSU anyway.

OL Ryan Nowicki, redshirt freshman, Illinois
Synopsis: He has yet to see the field and isn't even listed on the Illini's depth chart. That's not a good sign for Nowicki because Illinois has a relatively young offensive line. He'll have to overtake quite a few players to get on the field.

Is he better off? A little. He wasn't listed on Penn State's spring depth chart, either, and it seems as if he needs to add some weight to his 280-pound frame. Nowicki wasn't going to see time this season if he remained at PSU, and he has a better chance to play in the future for Illinois.

RB Silas Redd, junior, USC
Synopsis: He splits carries with senior Curtis McNeal but has become the top back. Through four games, he has 338 yards, four touchdowns and is averaging 5.8 yards a carry. He has carried the ball more than 15 times just one time this season -- against a struggling Cal defense, where he rushed 21 times for 158 yards.

Is he better off? Not right now. This is the hardest player to answer that question for. He could have been a PSU tailback and carried the ball 20-25 times a game. But, if he remained at PSU, would he have four touchdowns and still be averaging nearly six yards a carry? USC's obviously the better team, and he should be the featured back next year. USC has a reputation for producing NFL players, so the move could still pay off in the end.

TE Kevin Haplea, junior, Florida State
Synopsis: He's played in every game and has seen a lot of time as mostly a blocking tight end. He was targeted just twice -- with one catch -- in the first four games, but he shined Saturday against South Florida. He finished with two catches for 12 yards and his first touchdown of the season.

Is he better off? Absolutely. The Seminoles needed to add some depth at tight end, and Haplea will see a lot of time this year and next. He's the No. 1 blocking tight end and the No. 2 overall guy there, and he wouldn't have seen nearly as much playing time as a member of the Nittany Lions. PSU utilizes a lot of tight ends, but that's one position it's deep at -- and Haplea would have been lucky to see 10 plays a game.

K Anthony Fera, redshirt junior, Texas
Synopsis: A strained groin has kept him out of the first five games, but he'll be the starting placekicker once he returns. The Longhorns didn't guarantee him the starting job, but freshman Nick Jordan has struggled by nailing just 3-of-7 field goals. They likely won't put him in at punter, too, but he'll be invaluable at kicker for this year and next.

Is he better off? Well, he's not worse off. He could have transferred to most schools across the country and received just as much playing time. On the other hand, Penn State certainly isn't better off with his absence -- which could be considered the most costly.

S Tim Buckley, redshirt freshman, N.C. State
Synopsis: He must have impressed the coaching staff because he's played in the last three games, mostly on special teams. He hasn't recorded a tackle yet, but he's seeing more time on the field than he likely would have at Penn State.

Is he better off? Without a doubt, yes. If there's one guy who benefited from transferring, it was Buckley. He had no scholarship at PSU and was able to move closer to home and grab a scholarship from the Wolfpack.

LB Khairi Fortt, junior, Cal
Synopsis: He hasn't seen any game time because he's still recovering from knee surgery and could redshirt this season. He's basically a lock to start next season.

Is he better off?: Not anymore. The answer would have been a definite yes if Fortt could play this season; he would be a starter for Cal, while he would've been the No. 4 'backer for PSU. If he redshirts, he'll be a starter for Cal the next two seasons, but the same likely could have been said at Penn State. One could argue about extra exposure from a bowl game, but a 1-4 Cal team probably won't see the postseason, either.

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