Call it karma. JoePa’s revenge. Or just the way things worked out.
Almost a year later, the four highest profile players who left Penn State after the NCAA sanctions are all fairing poorly, while two of their replacements seem to have brighter college football futures ahead.
Running back Silas Redd had a superb season in 2011, then bolted for USC, where things started off well enough. But, the Trojans lost five of their last six games. In the final seven contests last year, Redd averaged just 56 yards. Two weeks ago, Redd tore the miniscus in his left knee in practice, and needed surgery. No prognosis yet, but he has just one year of eligibility left.
Zach Zwinak, fourth on the depth chart at running back last June, ended up a thousand yard runner on a team that won eight games, including a season-ending win over Wisconsin. With a full offseason as the number one guy, and two years of eligibility left, this guy’s upside seems pretty good.
Anthony Fera was an all-conference kicker and punter who took his foot to Texas. He injured his groin in the summer, and player in only six games last year, hitting just two of four field goals, and didn’t punt at all. In the Longhorns’ spring game before Fera’s senior season, two other kickers hit field goals and extra points, while Fera attempted none. Nor did he kick off. He punted twice for a 34.5 yard average.
Things couldn’t have started worse for Fera’s replacement, Sam Ficken. Who can forget that dismal performance in the rain at Virginia, when just one more field goal–out of four missed, in addition to a botched extra point, cost the Lions a one-point loss. While it was a season long struggle, Ficken stuck with it, and by November was getting better–hitting the game winning field goal in that overtime, season-ending win against Wisconsin.
One time starting quarterback Rob Bolden, who headed to LSU, never saw the field for the Tigers. Bolden is missing LSU’s spring practice with a knee injury. It’s not known the extent of the injury, but there are at least three QBs likely ahead of Bolden on the squad, and he may well have seen his last major college action.
Receiver Justin Brown did do well in his senior season at Oklahoma, with 73 receptions for 879 yards, and five TDs. He also averaged 14 yards on punt returns. But, the Sooners’ Kenny Stills, who had 82 catches and 11 TDs, was the one Oklahoma receiver invited to the NFL combine.
The NCAA fined Penn State $60 million for allegedly failing to properly oversee the football program and let Jerry Sandusky roam free. The NCAA itself has lost the first round in a class action suit by former players, suing because the NCAA uses their likenesses in advertising, video games, and so on, with no compensation.
If the NCAA eventually loses that suit, some say it could cost them billions.