Bill O'Brien's first Penn State football team is essentially a collection of free agents at the moment.
Various high-profile programs across the country are ready to poach the best players off of the Nittany Lions roster following the announced sanctions for PSU on Monday. Nittany Lion players are allowed to transfer without penalty to any school during the upcoming four-year bowl ban.
Here are five top players that teams likely have high on their wish lists:
Jr. RB Silas Redd: There were rumblings late Monday night that USC was hot after Redd and that the running back was interested in the Trojans as well. The power back ran for 1,241 yards and seven touchdowns last year and was the only consistent offensive performer for the Nittany Lions. Redd is the best Big Ten back not named Montee Ball, but he may be better off staying put and turning pro a year early.
Sr. DT Jordan Hill: Hill would be a golden addition for a team with a need for an inside presence up front. He recorded 59 tackles, 3.5 sacks and three fumble recoveries last season and is supposed to be the anchor of a line that lost Devon Still. Would he leave for one year only when he is slated to be a rather high NFL draft pick?
Jr. LB Khairi Fortt: Fortt was a high-star recruit who recorded 33 tackles and 2.5 sacks in 2011. He is expected to be a major part of the PSU defense after adding weight and improving his overall game following his success as a good special teams player early in his career.
So. RB Bill Belton: The 5-10, 206-pound Belton is expected to be a major contributor in Bill O'Brien's first season in Happy Valley after serving mostly as a Wildcat quarterback in 2011. The former receiver moved to the backfield and was expected to get immediate playing time. This is a player who did have a scholarship offer from Florida, so he's held in high regard nationally.
Sr. LB Gerald Hodges: Like Hill, Hodges may be better off staying the course in Happy Valley and having a strong season in preparation for the NFL. The 6-2, 234-pound all-Big Ten candidate would be an instant-impact defender for a team with a linebacker need.
Also: Freshman wide receiver Eugene Lewis was one of the best recruits brought in by O'Brien in his first recruiting class. Would he be okay with never playing in a bowl game during his career? And quarterback Paul Jones is a name to keep an eye on. I have maintained that Jones is the perfect player to run this offense, but academics have been an issue for him in the past. Might a fresh start be on the horizon for Jones?
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