N.C. State among schools interested in Penn State players

More than 30 promise to stay, ask fans for extra support

Associated PressJuly 25, 2012 

— Penn State football players looked on stoically as two teammates announced to the world: “We’re going to see this thing through.”

There were no smiles among the more than 30 players who huddled outside the school’s football facility Wednesday morning. After the statement was read, they turned and walked back into the building.

“We want to let the nation know that we’re proud of who we are,” senior fullback Michael Zordich said, flanked by his fellow players. “We’re the true Penn Staters, and we’re going to stick together through this. We’re going to see this thing through, and we’re going to do everything we can for the university. We know it’s not going to be easy, but we know what we’re made of.”

But some players will weigh whether to transfer, with other schools wooing them. The NCAA said Tuesday that Penn State cannot restrict its football players from pursuing transfer options. The biggest name is running back Silas Redd, who rushed for 1,241 yards as a sophomore last season. Redd has yet to reveal his plans.

N.C. State coach Tom O’Brien said there were a handful of Penn State players the Wolfpack would contact.

“We have recruited some before and know about some of them and have had relationships with some of them,” O’Brien said at the ACC Kickoff in Greensboro on Monday.

N.C. State previously recruited senior receiver Justin Brown, sophomore tackle Donovan Smith, sophomore safety Tim Buckley, sophomore running back Bill Belton, freshman linebacker Nyeem Wartman and freshman running back Akeel Lynch.

Buckley is from Raleigh and was a star running back at Cardinal Gibbons, where he rushed for almost 1,800 yards and 36 touchdowns as a senior in 2010.

Brown would potentially offer the most immediate help. The 6-3, 209-pound receiver from Wilmington, Del. is a two-year starter and was second on the team with 35 catches for 517 yards.

N.C. State has to replace two of its top three receivers from last season and in particular could use some size in its receiving corps.

Penn State coach Bill O’Brien told ESPN on Wednesday that all of his players have been recruited and some have received scholarship offers from 50 schools. Opposing coaches needed only to email or fax the Penn State compliance department to receive clearance to speak to players. O’Brien said Central Florida’s George O’Leary, Syracuse’s Doug Marrone and Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz reached out to him.

Illinois spokesman Kent Brown confirmed assistant coaches traveled to State College on Wednesday to talk to some Nittany Lions players. Brown said Illini athletic director Mike Thomas informed Penn State of the trip and that it came after Nittany Lions players contacted the Illini.

Cornerback Stephon Morris, who attended the news conference, tweeted: “We have chosen to stay at PSU & other opposing coaches are outside our apartment. Was that the intentions of the NCAA.” He added the hashtags “LeaveUsAlone” and “WeAre.”

Recent NCAA sanctions will keep the Nittany Lions out of a bowl game for the rest of these players’ careers, and the NCAA is allowing them to transfer to another school and play immediately. But on Wednesday, at least 13 players listed as first-stringers on the preseason depth chart affirmed their commitment to staying in Happy Valley, including senior quarterback Matt McGloin.

Neither Zordich nor senior linebacker Michael Mauti – both sons of former Penn State players – mentioned former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky by name during the impromptu news conference.

“We take this as an opportunity to create our own legacy,” Mauti said. “This program was not built by one man and it’s sure as hell not going to get torn down by one man. This program was built on every alumni, every single player that came before us, built on their backs.”

Staff writer J.P. Giglio contributed to this report.

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