Penn State football player exodus begins
Posted by: Brian Sinkoff
Published on: August 5th, 2012 at 1:15 PM
Last week, the Penn State football team suffered a huge setback as NCAA imposed penalties including a four-year postseason ban and significant scholarship reductions in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal.
It didn’t take long for the players to bolt State College. Six players have now left the program this week alone – and there will certainly be more to follow.
Kicker-punter Anthony Fera is bolting Penn State for Texas, the second starter to depart Happy Valley this week following harsh NCAA sanctions against the program for the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
Fera has submitted paperwork to enroll at Texas this season. Penn State announced Thursday that Fera was no longer on its roster.
The junior with the powerful right leg was one of the top specialists in the Big Ten after hitting 14 of 17 field-goal tries and averaging 42 yards a punt last season.
Incoming freshman defensive lineman Jamil Pollard, who had yet to play for coach Bill O’Brien, is also no longer with the squad. Pollard is headed to Rutgers.
Fera, from the Houston area, is the second starter to go. The biggest loss at Penn State is 1,200-yard rusher Silas Redd, who departed Tuesday for Southern California.
O’Brien, the former coordinator of the New England Patriots’ high-scoring offense, will have to reshape Penn State’s attack without its best offensive player.
Top backup linebacker Khairi Fortt, is another key departure after transferring to another Pac-12 destination, California. Penn State’s starting defense, though, is expected to remain intact.
A seventh player, backup quarterback Rob Bolden, was removed from the roster this week but was given his release before the NCAA sanctions.
Bolden, who has since transferred to LSU, began the previous two seasons as the starter before losing the job by the end of each year. O’Brien demoted Bolden to third-string this spring.
In light of the unprecedented sanctions, the NCAA is allowing Nittany Lion players to seek new schools and play immediately. Most players considering a transfer are trying to make a decision before their new schools start fall practice.
Among other Nittany Lions who have transferred, Florida State said Thursday that tight end Kevin Haplea had officially joined the Seminoles, two days after he left Penn State. Backup safety Tim Buckley, a former walk-on, was the first player to leave Penn State after the sanctions when he transferred to North Carolina State on Monday.
O’Brien had said last week that more than 50 players had re-affirmed their commitments to Penn State, and another six 2013 recruits did likewise last weekend.
But the transfers, along with a handful of other offseason departures unrelated to the sanctions, are taking a toll on the Penn State depth chart. The team could finally reach some roster stability Monday, when they start preseason practice.
Last week, several Penn State football players said they would be staying at Happy Valley. At the time, I said that’s wishful thinking. Once the first player leaves the program, it will set off a chain reaction. And that’s what’s happening here.
The emotional dust has settled and these players now realize they won’t be able to play in a bowl game or for a National Championship unless they leave the Penn State program.
Brian Sinkoff is a licensed Real Estate agent with Coldwell Banker Prime Properties. He’s been in media for nearly 20 years. Sinkoff is frequent contributor for Time Warner Cable Sports television and also was host of “Sound-off with Sinkoff” – which was on the ESPN Radio affiliate in Albany, NY from 2008-11.