So it begins.
The player exodus from Penn State following the child sex abuse scandal was inevitable, and its certainly not difficult to see why.
Twelve years of vacated wins, no-postseason play for four years, loss of scholarships, a $60 million fine and five years of probation. While not the NCAA's dreaded "death penalty," the punishment is almost the equivalent to life without possibility of parole.
The only bright spot, if one can be found amongst the rubble, is that the NCAA made a concerted effort to ensure that Penn State players themselves were not subject to the massive fallout of the investigation, allowing them to immediately transfer and compete. More intriguing is the fact that they will be able to move on to universities within the Big-10 conference and play.
Perhaps most surprising, Penn State players can also transfer to a school who's team has already reached their scholarship cap and take the field right away. The new schools will be allowed to rearrange scholarship numbers in later years to account for the added Penn State player. It was probably this addendum that had the USC Trojans coaching staff sitting up and taking notice. Especially when the Nittany Lions' star running back Silas Redd was rumored to be leaving.
USC has a reduced number of scholarships due to its own NCAA penalties, so it wasn't long before word leaked that the Trojans were wooing the skilled runner.
It's a good bet that the USC Trojans' recruiting guru Ed Ogeron is on a plane to State College right now, if not already on the ground, but the question is do the Trojans really need Redd?
The projected starter at tailback for 2012 USC Trojans is Curtis McNeal, a diminutive (five-foot-seven, 195 pounds) but productive back in 2011 (1,005 yards on 145 attempts/6.9 yard average/6 TDs), he has numbers nearly similar to Redd (1,241 yards on 244 attempts/5.0 yard average/7 TDs), especially if USC's ban from postseason play is factored in. The advantage that Redd has is size (five-foot-ten, 209 pounds), which seems to indicate that he is the more durable of the pair and would account for his greater number of carries.
The Trojans have been running a tailback-by-committee option for the last several seasons due to recruiting which seemed to favor smaller, quicker and shiftier backs. What was once "Tailback U" seems to have transformed into "Quarterback U," so this is understandable. However, the missing piece of the puzzle was a back who could consistently run between the tackles.
With quarterback and probable Heisman Trophy candidate Matt Barkley at the helm, its unlikely that the Trojans need a single back that carries the ball 30 times a game, but certainly another backfield threat to take some of the pressure off would be a welcome addition. More importantly perhaps is Redd's two remaining years of eligibility. McNeal will presumably be off to an NFL career next year. The Trojans could benefit immensely from returning an experienced Redd to the backfield in 2013 if they can convince him to remain for his senior season.
Redd is reportedly still weighing his options, so USC fans who fondly remember the "thunder and lightning" days of Reggie Bush and Lendale White are keeping their fingers crossed. Because its probable that should the Trojans come to terms with Redd, they could once again be showcasing such a dynamic duo.