- Garry Paskwietz, Publisher, WeAreSC.com
It is now official that Silas Redd will be leaving Penn State to transfer to USC.
While USC fans are certainly empathetic to what Penn State is going through right now, the fact is that this move couldn’t have come at a better time for the Trojans, with the lack of running back depth being one of the few concerns for a team ready to make a run at a national title.
The Trojans already have an established senior starter in Curtis McNeal and he was prepared for an increased role this year, but the USC coaching staff likes a 1-2 punch at running back and has shown the ability to succeed with two backs before. USC head coach Lane Kiffin was the offensive coordinator in 2005, a team that featured Reggie Bush and LenDale White, and running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu is the one who recruited the pair to USC.
We saw in spring ball how badly the coaches wanted to add a physical counterpart to McNeal when they moved Tre Madden from linebacker. Madden was the top reserve at linebacker, so it wasn’t an easy position switch to make. The move was working well until Madden injured his knee, but the addition of Redd would seem to be an ideal fit to slide into that role.
Redd is a tough running back. At 5-foot-11 and 209 pounds, he offers a bit more bulk than McNeal. He has good quickness, vision and runs hard. In one five-game stretch last season he averaged 27 carries per game on his way to more than 1,200 yards for the season. He certainly won’t be needed to carry that kind of load with the Trojans, as McNeal is the clear starter and will get the majority of the carries, but there will likely be a bit more balance with a back of Redd’s capabilities.
Penn State is a school that has a pretty good running back reputation of its own, and Redd was being mentioned as one of the best backs to come through the program in years. He was also a team leader, very popular among his teammates and he seemingly loved the university. That had to make it tough for him to leave. He knows what his leaving means to the team and I’m sure it hurts him. But when you think about it, from the moment the sanctions were announced last week, he didn’t waver from following the path that led him to USC.
The news that USC had notified Penn State of the intention to pursue Redd came out just a few hours after the sanctions were announced. USC was the only school that Redd allowed into his home to make a presentation -- in fact, it is the only school he has been linked to in this process. He took a trip to Los Angeles this past weekend with several family members, all while knowing that his friends and teammates were doing everything they could to hold the Nittany Lions team together.
So why does this make sense for Silas Redd? If he stayed at Penn State, he likely could have played this season and then declared for the NFL, all while feeling the appreciation of fans for the fact that he stayed.
The reason at the top of the list is the chance to win a national title. The Trojans offer Redd a legitimate opportunity to come in and play a role on a team that is one of the preseason favorites for the No. 1 ranking. To make sure he understood exactly what that role would be, the USC coaches flew out last week to show him how he would fit in the offense with a PowerPoint presentation and video of plays that would feature him.
Redd will also be surrounded by talent on an offense that is simply loaded. There is a Heisman Trophy favorite at quarterback, an incumbent 1,000-yard running back, a pair of 1,000-yard receivers and four returning starters on the offensive line. That means a whole lot more for an opposing defense to worry about than just Redd. If he was at Penn State, he would be the primary focus of the defense and wouldn’t have nearly the talent around him, along with only one returning offensive line starter.
Redd took the trip to the USC campus to make sure he got along with the team. He spent a lot of time with Matt Barkley and Robert Woods and they also joined Kiffin for lunch at Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles. He took in the whole L.A. experience and apparently liked what he saw because he didn’t waste any time in making his decision. Redd will come to USC and take a shot at a national title. Even most Penn State fans don’t blame him for his choice, which should say a lot about how much respect they have for the newest Trojan.