Eyeing Penn State’s Roster
In the wake of Penn State's punishment by the NCAA, a number of programs (and their fans) have eyed the Nittany Lions' roster with an eye for players that could contribute to their team. Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini seemed both open and at the same time unenthusiastic about the idea of bringing in transfers from PSU. This makes sense for a few reasons. On the one hand there's talent to be had, on the other hand the players might be a bit behind others in your program and may not bring the same enthusiasm for NU football as other recruits.
The Class of 2012
The players it might make the most sense to recruit are those signed most recently by Penn State that were set to begin school in the fall. Not only would these players have four years of eligibility and a redshirt available, but they wouldn't be very far behind other players Nebraska had signed. The Huskers had courted Maryland tight end Brent Wilkerson who committed very early in the process to PSU (back in March 2011). Defensive tackle Jamil Pollard also drew interest from the Huskers, but things never went very far on either side. Aside from that, none of the players on Penn State's roster seemed to be on Nebraska's wish list in February.
Trying to lure away fifth-year seniors doesn't make a lot of sense. They would be way behind in terms of understanding Nebraska's schemes and would likely make first-year mistakes. Probably not worth the investment, even for a talented player. Likewise, fourth-year players would have less eligibility than your typical junior college transfer. A juco often has three years to play two or three years to play three. Getting two years with only one spring makes them less attractive in a lot of ways than what a junior college player can offer. Beyond that, the coaches have generally preferred high school players to jucos.
Once you put aside the first, fourth, and fifth-year players, that leaves the second-year and third-year players. Nebraska had previously recruited just one of PSU's second-year players. That was backup running back Bill Belton The Huskers also courted two third-year players (who would now be the equivalent of junior college transfers in terms of eligibility). That included dual-threat quarterback Robert Bolden and defensive end turned tight end Dakota Royer.
So all told, there's really only a handful of players at Penn State that Nebraska ever sought to bring to Lincoln. If they don't seem that aggressive in seeking transfers now, that's understandable. Do they really want to add what would essentially be a junior college transfer-type quarterback to the mix? Might they expect to lure Belton if he's in line to start instead of Silas Redd? Wilkerson or Royer could certainly help with depth at tight end. Pollard might also help a defensive line, that while not lacking in depth, might always welcome another big body.
Don't put it past Pelini to show some empathy toward Penn State though. He may not like the idea of benefitting from the tragedy in State College. He's shown to have some scruples in recruiting. Over and over, we've heard recruits remarking about how they liked his frankness and honesty. His recruiting approach can't be defined as "win at all costs" or "tell them what they want to hear". Likewise, he was very candid in saying he didn't think Nebraska and Penn State should have played after what happened a year ago. It was way bigger than football. Like the rest of us, he probably admires the kids that are choosing to stick with the Nittany Lions through all of this. That's not to fault the kids that may transfer, but it shows character to stick out a tough situation. It seems doubtful that Pelini would go out of his way to beg guys to transfer. The door is open, but otherwise he likely won't be calling these guys.