When the NCAA came down on Penn State with sanctions as unprecedented as they were harsh, nobody had any idea what to expect the immediate future to look like. With student-athletes granted the opportunity to leave the Nittany Lions without penalty, many predicted mass exoduses. Others openly wondered whether Penn State would have enough scholarship players to field a team this year, that, perhaps, the NCAA would have in fact indirectly levied the death penalty.
When college coaches flocked to Happy Valley en masse, and as players sought refuge from the dozens of recruiting calls, those worries grew larger and larger, especially as so many in the national media were quick to note whenever a Penn State player was hearing from another school, regardless of whether said player was interested.
Fortunately, though, the past two weeks saw so many repledge their allegiance to this university that listing them all here would be tedious, especially since these are the guys we'll be talking about for the rest of the year, and moving forward. On the other hand, nine players left Penn State, and this will be the last we'll speak of them.
QB Rob Bolden, JR: I'll always wonder what might have happened if Jay Paterno hadn't been Bolden's QB coach and turned a promising freshman into a third-stringer. But it had become perfectly clear that Rob's time at Penn State had come and gone, and, in fact, he'd been granted his transfer before the sanctions came down, and he found a soft landing spot at LSU, even if there isn't a Wings Over Baton Rouge.
WR Justin Brown, SR: Of all the decisions, this one would seem, on the face, to be the most puzzling. But as a senior, Brown probably has the most to gain from playing one year in a pass-first offense with Landry Jones at the helm, rather than Penn State's derp-first one led by Matt McGloin. Despite his size and talent, Brown hadn't done much to prove he belonged in the NFL during his first three years here, and he'll get more opportunities to do just that at Oklahoma.
S Tim Buckley, RS FR: Buckley didn't play a single down at Penn State, after joining the Lions as a preferred walk-on, since he didn't receive much FBS interest. He's heading back home to N.C. State, and the Wolfpack have offered Buckley a scholarship.
K/P Anthony Fera: Fera, a Texas native, took the opportunity to transfer home to Texas and play before an ailing family member, as he detailed in his excellent statement. No reason to hold this decision against him.
LB Khairi Fortt, JR: The only defensive player who'd played a down for Penn State to transfer, Fortt likely took advantage of the opportunity to start for two years at Cal, whereas he'd likely have been a fourth linebacker at Penn State this year. This one hurts moving forward, though, since all of the 2012 starters at LB are seniors.
TE Kevin Haplea, JR: Haplea had opportunities in a weak tight end corps, but failed to make much of an impact in his two years in the Blue and White, hauling in just 6 catches in the past two years. It seems he'd already been passed on the depth chart by the younger Jesse James and Brent Carter, as well as Garry Gilliam and headed to Florida State for more playing time.
OL Ryan Nowicki, RS FR: I kind of want to make a custom t-shirt that says "I sent a half dozen coaches to Penn State and all I got was this depth offensive tackle" and send it to Tim Beckman. Nowicki might turn out to be a standout lineman for Illinois, but he was buried on the depth chart for at least the next couple years.
DT Jamil Pollard, FR: Pollard, one of the crown jewels of Penn State's depleted 2012 recruiting class, could have gone down as a legend--he committed to the Nittany Lions, for the second time, when Penn State didn't even have a head coach, and his personal situation has been well-documented. There are a lot of sour grapes going around, but none should be directed towards Pollard, who's staying close to home at Rutgers.
RB Silas Redd, JR: Who?