Penn State Open Season: SU’s Marrone Contacts O’Brien About Transfers

Here’s which current Nittany Lions the Orange could have its eye on.

The NCAA levied several debilitating penalties against Penn State football following the publication of The Freeh Report. Especially damaging is the provision that essentially allows other programs to pluck the Nittany Lions roster without limitation. All current players on Penn State are now permitted to transfer elsewhere over the next 12 months without having to sit out a season. From the NCAA:

“Penn State cannot restrict in any way a student-athlete from pursuing a possible transfer. Student-athletes must simply inform Penn State of their interest in discussing transfer options with other schools. Before communicating with student-athletes, interested schools also must inform Penn State of their intention to open discussions with the student-athlete.”

A huge chunk of Penn State’s Class of 2013 will end up decommitting without event. It’s routine for verbally committed recruits that haven’t signed LOIs to decommit if a program is undergoing turmoil. The Fizz has already detailed which 2013 PSU verbals could wind up in Orange (cornerback Ross Douglas has already switched his commitment to Michigan).

The 2013 class was in trouble regardless of how hard the NCAA came down on Penn State. But by allowing other teams to pursue current Nittany Lions, the NCAA has immediately decimated the on-field product in Happy Valley.

As always, Doug Marrone has shown superb class in comparison to his coaching peers. Penn State Head Coach Bill O’Brien asked for coaches pursuing his players to give him a courtesy call, and Doug Marrone was one of only a handful of coaches to oblige. O’Brien:

“I have a lot of respect for the coaches in the Big Ten, but a lot of coaches, they’re playing under the rules, no question about it, but they have recruited our players without the courtesy of calling me to tell me that they are doing that. There are some coaches who have called. I can tell you that Doug Marrone’s called, George O’Leary’s called. You know these are guys that understand the profession and I think, have done a heck of a job of reaching out to me. If a guy contacts them, they are going to listen, that’s what they’ve said, and I understand, but at the same time, they are just letting me know that ‘hey, if somebody contacts us, we’ll probably take a peek at him.’”

So Marrone definitely has interest in raiding the Nittany Lions’ cupboard. There’s no telling how much success he’ll have in that endeavor, but let’s put together a list of the players he will likely focus on.

After a large group of Penn State players convened Wednesday morning to affirm their commitment to the program, this list was compiled over at the blog Black Shoe Diaries. It shows which Nittany Lion players are staying at PSU, which are considering transferring, and which have not made their intentions clear. As of Wednesday (with some additional developments following the release of that list), 49 scholarship players have said they will remain at Penn State, one is definitely leaving, and six are on the fence. The statuses of an additional 27 scholarship players are unknown.

Players looking to transfer will likely want to rekindle relationships with coaches and programs they already know. Of the 34 players that could possibly leave Penn State, 12 were offered scholarships by Syracuse out of high school.

Definitely Leaving Penn State:
OG Ryan Nowicki (R-Fr., Glendale, Arizona)
He is is strongly considering Illinois, Washington, and Arizona State. Syracuse doesn’t look like a possibility.

On the Fence: 
RB Silas Redd (Jr., Norwalk, Connecticut) 
The Doak Walker Award candidate is likely headed either to USC or back to Penn State.

RB Curtis Dukes (R-Jr., Evans Mills, New York)
The universe is screaming for the 6-foot-1, 242-pound Dukes to transfer to SU. It just makes sense for too many reasons. First and foremost, his hometown is a 90-minute drive on I-81 north away from Syracuse. He’s already told The Post-Standard he has interest in coming back home to SU and finish up his college career.

“It would be nice to play in front of a home crowd,” said Dukes, who helped lead Indian River, near Watertown, to a 50-game Section X winning streak during his career, which concluded in 2008 when he ran for 1,168 yards (13.4 average) and 16 touchdowns. “It’s the reason why Syracuse was so high for me. It’s a good program and a great distance (away from home).”

Then there is Syracuse’s lack of running back depth. Keeping in mind that other players, including Redd, could also be departing from Penn State, Dukes may have a much easier battle for playing time at Syracuse. The Orange has a couple of backs with bright futures in George Morris and DeVante McFarlane. But they are only true freshmen. Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley are untested as featured backs, and the highly-touted Adonis Ameen-Moore was a bit of an enigma as a freshman. Dukes (a former Scout 4-star, Rivals 3-star) could give the Orange a much needed veteran in its running back corps. Backing up Redd in 2011, Dukes rushed for 237 yards in 2011 averaging 5.8 yards per carry.

His Penn State bio says he’s related to Ohio State basketball star-turned-NBA-draft-bust Greg Oden. Which I find to be an extremely fun fact.

Status Unknown: 
OT Luke Graham (R-So., Harrison City, Pennsylvania)
He switched back to offense after playing on the d-line as a freshman, and Marrone loves positional flexibility.

TE Kevin Haplea (Jr., Annandale, New Jersey)
His high school coach said that Haplea may be open to transferring, but that it will be a difficult decision. Haplea has a twin sister who attends PSU. If Haplea leaves, Rutgers would seemingly be a more likely destination than SU. The Orange already has plenty of depth at tight end, and the RU campus is close to Haplea’s hometown.

WR/DB Malik Golden (Fr. Cheshire, Connecticut)
All signs point to him going to Iowa if he transfers. Golden previously had lots of interest in the Hawkeyes. He visited them in high school, and they were a runner-up for his services.

RB Akeel Lynch (Fr., Athol Springs, New York)
This is a name that has always enamored Syracuse fans. Rivals ranked Lynch the third-best New York prospect in the Class of 2012. Originally from Toronto, the three-star recruit moved to the Buffalo area to finish out his high school career in order to get more exposure from D-I schools. He committed to Boston College, then decommitted and chose Penn State instead. SU has always had interest in him, but Lynch has never reciprocated with much interest in the Orange.

WR Brandon Moseby-Felder (R-Jr., Fort Washington, Maryland)
He never appeared to have that much interest in the Orange, but he’s a talented player that could benefit from increased playing time if he came to SU.

DE Sean Stanley (Sr., Rockville, Maryland)
Stanley is probably the second best player on this list behind Redd. The havoc-wreaking defensive end has one year left of collegiate football, and if not at Penn State he’ll likely want to spend the season playing for a winning program. He committed to PSU very early out of high school, so there are no obvious front-runners based on how his high school recruitment wrapped up.

LB Nyeem Wartman (Fr., Archbald, Pennsylvania)
Former Pittsburgh and current Arizona State Head Coach Todd Graham is pursuing Wartman, according to multiple reports. Graham, who himself knows a thing or two about jumping from one school to another (and that’s about as flattering as I could put it), is looking to re-establish a connection with some of the players he met on the recruiting trail for the Panthers.

LB Mike Yancich (R-Sr., Washington, Pennsylvania)
He has some versatility but Yancich probably just stays with the Nittany Lions at this point. He’s a redshirt senior who is a role player, not the type of athlete another school would have much interest in for only one season.

RB/FB Zach Zwinak (R-So., Frederick, Maryland)
Virginia Tech would make the most sense. His father played there, and the Hokies made Zwinak’s final two along with Penn State. But hey, the Orange could use a fullback after losing Adam Harris and Tombe Kose to graduation. Who better than the Rivals-rated number two fullback in the 2010 class?

* * *
One program to watch out for that could put a dent in Penn State’s roster is Maryland. 10 players currently on the PSU roster are from Maryland. And having examined all the players that could leave the Nittany Lions, it seems like almost all of them had an offer from the Terps out of high school.

The best match for Syracuse is clearly Dukes, but Orange Nation will keep a close eye on all of these possible transfers. This is a tremendous opportunity for Marrone to accelerate the growth of his program. High school recruits can take years to impact a program. But a transfer like Dukes can immediately propel a team to the next level.

Posted: Andrew Kanell

27 Comments on this Post

  1. Pretty sad… I hope all of PSU players bond together and stay put. It seems pretty slimy to pull college kids like they are some sort of free agents or something. Just my 2 cents.

  2. 4orty4our

    Aaron what’s slimy is raping young boys. PSU deserves everything handed down to them from the NCAA. Could you continue to wear a Penn State uniform after what has happened? I would venture to say that many of these PSU players want to go to another program. Do you think it would be more fair to the student athlete to force them to stay? Do you feel that giving them the option to transfer to another school is wrong? They are essentially free agents. This is an unprecedented situation for the entire college football world. SMU’s death penalty was for indecent benefits given to players, PSU’s sanctions are because boys were raped. By your logic recruiting a kid out of HS would be slimy as well. How is this any different than multiple programs recruiting a kid while he is in HS. The only difference is they are being recruited with a little college football experience under their belts. The current players at PSU have an OPTION to stay or go to another program, and they deserve the right to choose. They deserve a quality education while playing for the program that they CHOOSE. I think that denying these kids this option would be more “slimy” than being actively recruited by a program that doesn’t cover up the raping of young boys. Just my two cents.

  3. OrangeCrush27

    44- Couldnt have said that any better….

    Nothing wrong with this at all. HCDM went about things the right way when contacting PSU in regards to possible transfers.

    I watched Dukes play in HS and he is a beast. If he were to transfer, could be a big lift for a ‘Cuse football team heading into a tough schedule and rebuilding process.

  4. Okay – Step back for a second buddy. Don’t confuse the Jerry Sandusky / Joe Pa situation and the PSU student athletes. If education (student athlete) is really what the NCAA wants to promote then a “kid” swapping schools as a Jr or Sr is crazy. It’s pretty hard to stay on track for a degree if you swap schools. BTW – I’m not stating SU is being slimy… Just the concept of swapping schools to play football.

  5. Kids transferring after their Soph year before they become Juniors isn’t crazy Aaron. It happens all the time too. Almost as common as Freshman becoming Soph’s transferring.

  6. I get what Aaron is saying. It’s open season on a crumbling system, and it doesn’t support the idea of “student” preceding “athlete” as collegians. Unfortunately, everybody, including the players, understands that they’re athletes first and students a far second. This situation proves it yet again.

  7. Norma Stitz

    I see Aaron’s point too. And this notion that PSU raped little boys is ridiculous. 1 person did and a number to be determined knew about it and let some of it happen in essence. But the idea that people now taint the entire school with that is just odd and sad. So they will never be looked at besides the school where this happened? Well hopefully you are still being punished for all the sins of your relatives that came before you too. Great logic.

  8. Good Luck to the football program and student athletes at Penn State. What happened had nothing to do with them.

    Reference Dukes. He is a Junior. Will SU accept all of Duke’s credits from PSU so he can graduate on time? Some schools require you to have a large number of credits from their program to graduate.


    Good List D.A. Nice to get a break down of who is in play here.

    My Opinion is that the focus for SU should be the Offensive linemen to shore up the right side and Dukes, giving a local guy a place to land for his last two years (which also makes sure current recruits don’t really need to worry about him when looking at depth). If we take a shot at Golden that would be good too he’s young and has time to develop into a solid player and SU is much closer to home than Iowa.

    Some of these guys might be in for a rude awakening when transferring to Mich. USC and other big schools and end up just on the depth chart. I’m surprised not to hear more buzz around smaller name schools like SU where many of these players have a chance be starters.

    None of this process I’m sure makes any of our stomach’s settled on either side of the debate but with the time frame I think the NCAA was somewhat stymied and had to release the contact restrictions for other schools to accelerate the process. Overall though I’m glad Marrone is falling into the doing it right category, not that I would expect anything else.

  10. Russell MacEachern

    Yeah Marrone did it the right way…anyone see the photo of OSU’s helecopter landing in PSU’s practice field?…that’s crazy!!

  11. Norma Stitz

    That is crazy Russ! Didn’t see that. Wow that is bold!

  12. Russell MacEachern

    Negate that Norma…was a hoax on a rivals message board..leave it to me to fall for it!!lol..sorry.

  13. Norma Stitz

    That is a funny hoax! Wouldn’t put it past Urban either.

  14. orange_swede

    SU should see this as an opportunity and I don’t mean to pick up players. Marrone/Gross should cut a deal with PSU to come out and make a very public statement saying they will not take PSU players. Then they should craft a deal to play PSU in a new years day game at a neutral site say in Fla somewhere. It wouldn’t be a bowl game per se but it would garner media attention. It could be labeled the “Athletes against abuse” game and it could be sold for tv rights like a bowl. Get a title sponsor, the whole nine yards. The catch would be all proceeds go to help some charity of choice that deals with child abuse etc. So this does a couple things. It guarantees SU a post season new years day game in a rebuilding year that we are pretty sure we won’t have one otherwise. It helps PSU coaches and athletes who had nothing to do with the scumbagery of the prior administration. It raises awareness and large sums of money for child abuse victims etc. Maybe it shows ncaa SU is trying to do the right thing in terms of child abuse victims as well. Win-win-win.

  15. Norma Stitz

    Great idea swede! I am not sure this years team isnt going to make a bowl though.

  16. Syracuse will keep itself as distanced as possible from PSU in regards to treatment of children. All attention is on PSU right now. Why in the world would SU want to share that spotlight? Especially since there’s no proof against Fine, as opposed to tons of it against PSU.

  17. Russell MacEachern

    I hope we can pick up Dukes the fb…I notice TE fr Kevin Haplea is down at FSU today and #1 DT recruit Jamil Pollard is leaning RU…both are frosh..anyone know if were looking at anyone else from PSUs roster?..if these guys start leaving maybe the floodgates w/open? btw ..looks like Redd to USC,we’ll know Monday!

  18. Norma Stitz

    Dukes is a big RB not a FB, and I mean big 240lbs big. Some word that Daquan Jones DT who is from Johnson City may be interested. Time Is ticking so I imagine we will all know soon.

  19. I hear the same thing, Normas’ T. Itz. Jones is a big-time DT who would help make us an absolute force on the D-line.

  20. Russell MacEachern

    @Norma,thats the kind of news I like too hear…never have enough run stuffers…Dukes must be some beast to be rb at 240lbs!!!I saw his size and assumed he was a FB?…btw I hear Pollard contacted RU,they did’nt have enough schollys to take a chance on him in last class…he had grade issues now settled!!

  21. Russell MacEachern

    bgogo,what doe’s Inspector Chest have too add?…any size there??

  22. Mike Hawk (aka Norma)

    Yeah Russ he is a bruiser at RB! And another proven DT would be an awesome get for SU. I am hearing Marrone hasn’t contacted them yet so hopefully they somehow get in touch and can work something out. Go ORANGE!!!

  23. Always funny Russell. Yes…hmmm…I’m feeling something big here. Very nice, very nice. I think Dukes would immediately become the best back for SU. If it weren’t for the fact that he plays behind one of the top 5 running backs in the country, he’d have far bigger programs all over him. Hoping we close the deal on these two big ones. Very nice, indeed.

  24. Cuse09645

    Look at all those rbs names we got. You mean to tell me none of those guys isn’t gonna step up and be a hell of a rb. We need to go out and get another one? Why do they all suck so much?

  25. Russell MacEachern

    with smallish DLs being in vogue you can never have enough BIG rb’s,not to say what we already have won’t step up!!

  26. Cuse, They don’t suck, they’re serviceable. Even if we don’t get Dukes, we’ve got a great variety of decent backs. But none is capable of changing a defensive game plan by the opponent. Morris (if he makes it here)and McFarlene are upgrades, and Edwards is also, but Dukes is the type of runner that can force the defense to commit an extra player into the box. It eases things up on the receivers getting into space. Blame it on Robinson, really. He ran the program into the basement where no great runnning back wanted to come here. This would immediately improve our offense, although there would still be some growing pains while he learns the offense. Good question though.

  27. Ho anche giocare con le auto un po ‘, imparando un lavoro meccanico. id piace molto essere in grado di ottimizzare la gestione del motore, sia Tweak una azione ECM o sintonizzare un pieno sul standalone, quindi se qualcuno sa che roba qui punto PLEAASSEE me dove cercare di iniziare perché im così perso

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