Grass not greener for departed Lions
A look at how the PSU players who transferred after the NCAA sanctions fared compared to the player who took his spot with the Nittany Lions:
RB Silas Redd
At USC: Rushed for 817 yards on 150 carries (5.4 per attempt) and averaged 74.3 ypg with 9 TDs. Caught six passes for 99 yards. Had 1,241 yards for PSU last year. Battled injury late in season, missing one game and carrying just three times in another. Team was very disappointing as Trojans started season No. 1 but finished with worse record than PSU at 7-5.
RB Zach Zwinak
Rushed for 1,000 yards on 203 carries (4.9 per attempt) and averaged 83.3 ypg game with 6 TDs. Also caught 20 passes for 177 yards and one TD. Finished season with career-high 179 yards on 36 carries against Wisconsin. A powerful runner who always fought his way forward for yardage, with an amazing stat of losing only 7 total yards on his 203 carries.
WR Justin Brown
At Oklahoma: Caught 62 passes for 795 yards and 4 TDs and averaged 72.3 yards per game. Had success as punt returner, averaging 15.3 yards on 20 returns, with a 90-yard TD. Finished second on team in catches and yards. Would have been PSU's top returning receiver after catching 35 passes last year. Sooners were 9-2 going into Saturday's game against TCU.
WR Allen Robinson
One of the biggest surprises in the country, he had one of the best seasons ever by a PSU receiver. Set school record for season with 77 catches, and with 1,013 yards, he became just the second Lions receiver to reach 1,000. Also had 11 TDs and was named Big Ten Receiver of the Year. An incredible performance from a guy who caught only three passes last season.
K Anthony Fera
At Texas: Battled a groin injury most of the season and made only 2-of-4 field goals with a long of 42. Was 23-of-25 on PATs. Didn't punt for 8-3 Longhorns. He was a big loss for Penn State after handling punting, place-kicking and kickoff duties last season, but given that he was injured this year, he probably wouldn't have been a major factor anyway had he stayed.
K Sam Ficken
Had horrendous day at Virginia, missing four FGs and PAT in one-point loss, but regrouped and finished season by making 10 FGs in a row. Made 14-of-21 overall with long of 38 and made 39-of-41 PATs. Did good job on kickoffs with 27 of 68 for touchbacks. As much as he struggled early, he at least could play and finished with far better numbers than Fera.
TE Kevin Haplea
At Florida State: Caught only 3 passes for 15 yards and one TD, similar to his numbers last year for PSU, when he caught 3 passes for 21 yards and one TD. Of all the players who left, he might be kicking himself the most, given that PSU's TEs became a major part of the offense under Bill O'Brien. Then again, he might have been buried on the depth chart with the Lions.
TE Kyle Carter
All-conference performer, finishing second on the team with 36 catches and 453 yards in only nine games. Also caught 2 TDs. He likely would have broken school TE receptions record of 41 had he not missed time with injuries. He's a perfect fit for O'Brien's offense, and he has a chance to catch a bunch more passes and impress NFL scouts over the next few years.
LB Khairi Fortt
At California: He suffered a knee injury and redshirted. The season also turned sour for his team as the Bears went 3-9, leading to coach Jeff Tedford getting fired. He played in all 13 games for PSU last season and looked impressive at times, finishing with 33 tackles, 6 tackles for loss and 2 1/2 sacks, but he wasn't happy with being a backup for one more year at Linebacker U.
LB Mike Hull
Considered transferring to Pitt but must be happy he stayed. Had an impressive season for a backup linebacker, finishing sixth on team with 58 tackles to go along with 4 sacks and 5 tackles for loss. Highlight was a 74-yard TD after fumble recovery against Navy. Figures to be in line for a starting job next season, giving him a chance to showcase his skills for NFL scouts.
Notes: Several other players who transferred were not factors at all for their respective teams: QB Rob Bolden (LSU), S Tim Buckley (N.C. State), OL Ryan Nowicki (Illinois). WR Devon Smith (redshirt) and DB Derrick Thomas (53 tackles) left the team and transferred to Marshall before the sanctions came down.