Penn State refugee will ease USC’s woes at RB

Depth at running back was a huge concern for the Southern California football team entering the 2012 season.
On Tuesday, the Trojans got a little deeper:

Penn State running back Silas Redd announced his intention to transfer to USC.

“We have weighed the pros and cons of staying at Penn State and leaving Penn State, attending USC and not attending USC, and I can honestly say that, ultimately, this decision is about so much more than football,” Redd said in a statement. “I continue to have aspirations for my life, and as my family and I considered the bigger picture — both on and off the field — it became clearer to me that USC will be the best fit for my academic, athletic and personal needs over the next two years. I look forward to future successes, and to the continued support of everyone around me.”

Redd became the second player in two days to transfer from Penn State. On Monday, safety Tim Buckley transferred to North Carolina State.

Redd, who will be a junior in the fall and has two years of eligibility remaining, rushed for 1,241 yards and seven touchdowns last season. He led the FBS with 703 rushing yards in last October and became the first Nittany Lion in 14 years to post five consecutive 100-yard games. He was a Pop Warner teammate of current USC backup quarterback Max Wittek.

“We welcome Silas Redd to the Trojan Family,” USC athletic director Pat Haden said. “He is an outstanding student and athlete. When the NCAA presented the option to transfer, Silas and his family put a lot of thought and research into making this decision.”

The addition of Redd gives USC head coach Lane Kiffin plenty of offensive weapons. As the Trojans’ playcaller, Kiffin now has two 1,000-yard rushers, two 1,000-yard receivers, and a 3,500-yard passer at his disposal.

The opportunity for Redd to transfer became available last week when the NCAA announced sanctions against the Penn State program in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

In announcing Penn State’s penalties, the NCAA said any player on the Nittany Lions roster would be eligible to transfer immediately without penalty. That ruling created somewhat of a free-agent frenzy in the college ranks, and USC, with a definite lack of bodies at tailback, became aggressive in its pursuit of Redd.

“At USC, we’ve seen both sides of this issue, having lost a number of players to transfer due to our NCAA sanctions in 2010,” Haden said. “But Lane Kiffin and his coaches would not be doing their job if they did not try to improve our team every single day. There is a specific need here for a player like (Redd), so Lane and our coaches recruited him within the guidelines set up in this instance by the NCAA.”

Kiffin, along with other members of the USC coaching staff, met with Redd last Thursday in Connecticut. The meeting lasted three hours and included a power-point presentation, according to ESPN. During his presentation, Kiffin reportedly demonstrated to Redd how he would fit into the USC offense and would be welcomed by the rest of the Trojan players.

Redd was able to see the players’ camaraderie firsthand when he visited USC over the weekend, spending Saturday through Monday in Los Angeles.

The addition of Redd puts the Trojans over the limit of 75 scholarships they are allotted under the NCAA’s current sanctions. The NCAA has said a school may go over the scholarship limit to allow a player from Penn State to transfer, unless, as is the case with USC, they are under NCAA-imposed scholarship reductions.

If an incoming freshman fails to qualify academically, that scholarship could go to Redd.  But if the incoming freshman were to eventuallly become eligible, USC might have to take away a scholarship previously awarded to a walk-on.

The Orange County Register reported earlier this week that an unidentifed former Trojans walk-on would be willing to sacrifice his scholarship to help the team.

The Trojans ended spring ball with just three tailbacks on scholarship, but that total could rise to five by the time fall camp opens Monday.

Before Redd pledged his services to the Trojans, Kiffin said incoming wide receiver Nelson Agholor would be moved to running back because, as Kiffin puts it, “We have to have some guys there.”

In Redd, the Trojans are getting a guy who is expected to improve a group that was considered a weak link for a team considered to possible national title contender.