- Josh Moyer, ESPN Staff Writer
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Two seasons ago, in the wake of unprecedented sanctions, the football world waited to see what kind of fate would befall the Penn State Nittany Lions.
Could they still win? Could they still recruit? Better yet, just how many players would leave?
One of the biggest ramifications of the sanctions was a penalty that allowed Penn State players to transfer to any other program without sitting out a year. In the end, only nine players transferred that summer.
Penn State fared just fine the past two seasons. But whatever happened to those nine transfers anyway -- and how did they end up faring?
Let's take a look:
QB Rob Bolden
Transferred to: LSU (then Eastern Michigan)
Claim to PSU fame: He became the first true freshman quarterback to start a PSU opener since Shorty Miller in 1912. He later lost the job to walk-on Matt McGloin.
How he’s fared since transferring: LSU moved Bolden to wide receiver, but he did not play a single game for the Tigers. So, last month, he transferred to Eastern Michigan. He’ll be eligible immediately, but he’s no lock for the starting quarterback spot. No starter has yet been named.
Grading the move: D. Transferring was the right move for Bolden; transferring to LSU was not.
WR Justin Brown
Transferred to: Oklahoma
Claim to PSU fame: He was an important part of the passing game in both 2010 and 2011 and was initially projected to be the top PSU wideout in 2012.
How he’s fared since transferring: He did well for the Sooners in 2012, his final season of eligibility, by catching 73 balls for 879 yards and five touchdowns. The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted him in the sixth round a year ago, and he has two catches this preseason.
Grading the move: B. It was high-risk, high-reward. He met his goal of being drafted, so it looks as if it paid off.
DT/OG Jamil Pollard
Transferred to: Rutgers
Claim to PSU fame: He was the only true freshman who signed with PSU and headed elsewhere.
How he's fared since transferring: After suffering what was termed a "career-ending injury," Pollard returned to the team just six months later. He was moved from defensive tackle to offensive guard over the offseason, and he’ll be fighting for situational time in 2014.
Grading the move: Incomplete. It’s difficult to rate someone who never played for Penn State. Plus, it’s still pretty early in his career.
OL Ryan Nowicki
Transferred to: Illinois (then Northern Arizona)
Claim to PSU fame: He drew the ire of fans and teammates when he transferred to another Big Ten school. Said cornerback Stephon Morris: “That’s a coward move.”
How he’s fared since transferring: He didn’t play for Illinois in the 2012 season and then decided to move closer to home by transferring to Northern Arizona last June. He played in six games last season, and he’s not expected to start this season.
Grading the move: C. He wasn’t going to see much time at Penn State, so his transfer made sense. But maybe he should’ve just picked Northern Arizona first.
RB Silas Redd
Transferred to: USC
Claim to PSU fame: He was the Nittany Lions' star offensive player after rushing for 1,241 yards as a sophomore. His transfer, at the time, was the biggest blow to the team.
How he’s fared since transferring: Injuries stalked Redd and he never quite lived up to the hype generated in Happy Valley. Through nine games in 2012, when he was at his healthiest, he averaged 81.3 yards a contest while splitting carries. Redd played in just six games in 2013, went undrafted this past May and signed with the Washington Redskins. He’s already fought his way up to No. 4 on the depth chart.
Grading the move: D-. Penn State fifth-stringer Zach Zwinak actually outrushed Redd in 2012 -- 1,000 yards to 905 yards -- so it’s difficult to imagine a scenario where Redd wouldn’t have been better off at PSU.
TE Kevin Haplea
Transferred to: Florida State
Claim to PSU fame: He left PSU with six catches for 60 yards and a touchdown.
How he’s fared since transferring: He saw significant time for the Seminoles in 2012 as a run-blocking tight end, and he redshirted last season due to a knee injury. He’s back for one final season, and he’ll be a key backup at the position.
Grading the move: A. He’s seeing more time on the field than he likely would have at Penn State. Plus, he’s on a team that won the national title last season and is the favorite to win it again this season.
K Anthony Fera
Transferred to: Texas
Claim to PSU fame: He was the first Penn State player since Chris Bahr in 1975 to be the starter for field goals, kickoffs and punts.
How he’s fared since transferring: Fera battled with a groin injury in 2012, but he really came on strong when his health improved for 2013. He was a consensus All-American and a Lou Groza Award finalist. He tried out for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers two weeks ago but is not yet on the roster.
Grading the move: B+. He likely would’ve done just as well if he stayed at Penn State, but he performed incredibly well at Texas.
Transferred to: NC State
Claim to PSU fame: He was a former walk-on and became the first Penn State player to transfer.
How he’s fared since transferring: He mostly played special teams in 2012, but he competed in all 12 games last season and even registered a start against East Carolina. He finished last season with 25 tackles. He's no starter, but he's also a redshirt junior.
Grading the move: A-. Not bad for a former walk-on. There’s no guarantee he would’ve received as much playing time in Happy Valley.
LB Khairi Fortt
Transferred to: Cal
Claim to PSU fame: He had 33 tackles in 2011, and he was in line to be the top backup in 2012 and a starter in 2013.
How he’s fared since transferring: He sat out the 2012 season due to knee surgery but rebounded in 2013. He was one of 12 semifinalists for the Butkus Award but suffered a season-ending injury in Game 9. He declared early for the NFL draft and was taken in the fourth round by the New Orleans Saints. He’s currently listed as the second-team outside linebacker.
Grading the move: C-. Cal won just a single game last season, and Fortt almost certainly would’ve started for the Nittany Lions’ in 2013. At least he’s flying high now as an NFL rookie.
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