Silas Redd has officially announced his decision to transfer from Penn State to join the USC Trojans football program.
The Nittany Lions’ leading rusher in 2011, Redd was the subject of speculation from the moment the NCAA hit Penn State with heavy sanctions last Monday. The sanctions include a four-year postseason ban, but PSU players and commits were granted the freedom to transfer to any other school without losing a year of eligibility.
The USC Trojans notified Penn State of their interest in Redd the day the sanctions were announced and have been recruiting him hard over the past week.
His decision does not come as much of a surprise. At USC, the second-team All-Big Ten rusher has an opportunity to play immediately and contend for conference and national titles.
USC head coach Lane Kiffin traveled to Redd’s home state of Connecticut armed with PowerPoint presentations and video to make his recruiting pitch and convinced the talented tailback to visit the Southern California campus over the weekend. He made the trip with his father and brother and reportedly spent lots of time with quarterback Matt Barkley and wide receiver Robert Woods, two of the stars for the USC offense.
Redd’s Pop Warner teammate, backup quarterback Max Wittek, also reached out to the running back – even committing a potential secondary recruiting violation by discussing his phone call with the press.
In a statement sent to the media on Tuesday, Redd said: “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.”
Redd’s transfer is a huge recruiting win for the Trojans, who had a troubling lack of depth at tailback. Senior Curtis McNeal, the team’s leading rusher with 1,005 yards last season, is the only back on the roster with significant experience, and his backups had yet to distinguish themselves.
Redd rushed for 1,241 yards at Penn State last season. He’ll be expected to play immediately and become a huge piece of a USC offense that is an embarrassment of riches, with a 3,500 yard passer (Barkley), two 1,000 yard rushers (Redd and McNeal), and two 1,000 yard receivers (Woods and Marqise Lee).
USC athletic director Pat Haden welcomed Redd to the Trojan Family in a statement that defended the team’s recruitment of a player from PSU, something several Big Ten coaches said they’d be uncomfortable doing:
“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. 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 Silas Redd, so Lane and our coaches recruited him within the guidelines set up in this instance by the NCAA.”
The Trojans are currently at their 75-man roster limit – they have ten fewer scholarships than typical due to their own sanctions from the Reggie Bush case. The NCAA exception that allows schools to exceed the limit to accommodate former Penn State players only applies to schools not currently under sanctions, so USC has to find a way to make room for Redd on the official roster.
It’s rumored that at least one current player will not be academically eligible in 2012, which will open up a spot for Redd. If not, the Trojans will take a scholarship from a former walk-on.
Redd is the second player to transfer from Penn State since the sanctions were announced. A day earlier, backup safety Tim Buckley became the first to jump ship, joining the NC State Wolfpack.