Penn St. loses first transfer

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Penn St. loses first transfer

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- Backup Penn State safety Tim Buckley has become the first player to transfer from Penn State in the wake of NCAA sanctions, while the future of a more prominent player, star tailback Silas Redd, remains in question.

Redd, a 1,200-yard rusher who would be a focal point of O'Brien's reconfigured Penn State offense, visited Southern California over the weekend. Another good season could have the junior with the dazzling open-field spin move headed to the NFL draft a year early next spring.

Still, the majority of coach Bill O'Brien's core players appear to be sticking with Penn State, determined to weather out what could be a stormy season after the NCAA meted out landmark punishments on the program for the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

O'Brien said at Big Ten media days last week in Chicago that more than 50 players have re-affirmed their commitment to Penn State, though he did expect some transfers. Two Class of 2013 recruits have de-committed over the last week, but six prospects visited O'Brien over the weekend before standing by their verbal commitments.

"We have a really unique opportunity at Penn State to do something really special," one of the six recruits, Cedar Cliff High senior Adam Breneman, said in a phone interview. Breneman, of Camp Hill, Pa., is considered one of the top tight end prospects in the country.

"We have a chance to bring a community together. We have a chance to be remembered for a long time and give a community hope."

Buckley won't be part of Breneman's future team. North Carolina State released a statement Monday announcing Buckley, a North Carolina native, would join the Wolfpack for the team's first practice Tuesday.

The former walk-on redshirted last season at Penn State, so he'll have four years of eligibility left.

"The opportunity to come here and play at my state university, so close to home, was something that I couldn't pass up," Buckley said in the statement that made no mention of the scandal.

Other Nittany Lions appear to be at least looking around, most notably Redd.

He voiced support for former coach Joe Paterno as late as two weeks ago, after former FBI director Louis Freeh released the results of his investigation in the Sandusky scandal for the university. Freeh said Paterno, who died in January, and three other school officials concealed allegations against Sandusky -- conclusions vehemently denied by Paterno's family and the officials.

"It has nothing to do with us," Redd had said about the findings. Penn State later handed the results of Freeh's investigation to the NCAA.

Redd had also said his opinion of Paterno, the coach that recruited him to Penn State, hadn't changed. He said Paterno, in his view, remained "the best college football coach of all time."

Since then, the NCAA banned Penn State from postseason play for the next four seasons, including the last two years of Redd's eligibility. College sports' governing body is allowing Redd and all other Nittany Lions to transfer to another school and get on the field right away.

The only restriction is they cannot practice or play with Penn State this year and still play for another school this season, meaning the Penn State roster should finally be set once training camp starts in a week.

But the process sets up college version of NFL free agency, in which other schools have been busy trying to cherry-pick Nittany Lions.

USC could be a landing spot if Redd decides to leave. With an offense led by quarterback Matt Barkley, the Trojans will be highly ranked and one of the favorites to win the Pac-12 Conference.

A person familiar with Redd's decision said the running back was returning from California on Monday and could make his decision as early as Tuesday. The person requested anonymity because no one was authorized to speak for Redd.

If Redd is back in State College by early Tuesday, he might find a bevy of fans urging him to stay.

Tim Sweeney, a businessman who hosts an online radio show, said he and his fellow host Keith Conlin, came up with the "Rise and Rally" event that has garnered community support. Sweeney said more than 1,000 people have indicated on Facebook they will attend the rally, which is scheduled to start at 6 a.m., in order to greet Nittany Lions scheduled to arrive at the football building for early-morning workouts.

"What these guys have had to endure and overcome, nobody has ever been faced before in college football," said Sweeney, who like Conlin is also a former Penn State player. "There aren't any better representatives of our university than our football team."

Most downtown businesses are displaying "Proud to Support Penn State Football" signs on windows. Some stores have started selling shirts with the slogan "Billeave," playing off of the first name of O'Brien, the former New England Patriots offensive coordinator.

Penn State fans and students have also started a Twitter campaign to sway Redd with the hashtag "StaySilas."

"With Silas Redd, or without Silas Redd, I would not discount Coach O'Brien's ability to make an offense and put points on the board," said Sweeney, who also heads the Penn State football Lettermen's Club, a group of former players.

Members of the football alumni group also plan to speak with players at a team meeting later Tuesday. Sweeney said he hopes hundreds of lettermen attend the meeting that O'Brien asked they attend.

"They're going to be overwhelmed when they see how many guys are there. These are their Penn State brothers," Sweeney said. "I'm sure the messages that will be delivered will be strong and impactful."

Penn State spokesman Jeff Nelson said any plans by players to transfer would come from the players themselves or his new school, not Penn State.

Nelson did confirm that former starting quarterback Rob Bolden has been allowed by O'Brien to speak with other schools. Permission was given before the NCAA had announced its sanctions on July 23, Nelson said.

Bolden began the season as starter the previous two seasons before losing the job at the end of the year to Matt McGloin. Bolden had also pondered transferring last offseason.

This spring, O'Brien tabbed McGloin the outright starter and demoted Bolden to the third team. Bolden was with the team as late a player charity event on July 13, the day after the Freeh report was released.

He was no longer on the team's online roster as of Monday.

Jerod Evans' 4 touchdowns carry Virginia Tech past East Carolina

Jerod Evans' 4 touchdowns carry Virginia Tech past East Carolina

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) -- Jerod Evans said that he needed to clean up some things during Virginia Tech's upcoming off week.

The Hokies' fan base may be wondering what exactly that is. His play so far has been sparkling.

Evans, the Hokies' starting quarterback, threw three touchdown passes and rushed for one to lift Virginia Tech over East Carolina 54-17 on Saturday.

The Hokies (3-1) scored on their final five possessions of the first half, including all four of their second-quarter possessions, to overwhelm East Carolina (2-2) and snap a two-game losing streak to the Pirates.

Evans completed 13 of 20 passes for a career-best 282 yards and rushed for a career-best 97 more. He has thrown at least three touchdown passes in three of the Hokies' first four games and is completing 67 percent of his passes.

"I missed a couple of things here and there," Evans said. "I have a lot of things that I can get better at for sure."

Evans entered the game with an ACC-best 10 touchdown passes this season. Of more importance to Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente, he has thrown just one interception.

"I think he's pretty good," Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said of Evans. "He's been judicious with the ball and he's going to the right place most of the time. He's been pretty efficient."

Following a punt return for a touchdown by Greg Stroman and a touchdown run by Marshawn Williams that gave the Hokies a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, Evans threw touchdown passes of 24 yards to Isaiah Ford, 13 yards to Travon McMillian and 55 yards to Cam Phillips. That final score gave the Hokies a 38-0 halftime lead.

ECU quarterback Philip Nelson had 362 yards passing and two touchdown tosses to Jimmy Williams. The Pirates had 443 yards of offense, but committed three special teams mistakes, fumbled once and were sacked six times.

"We studied the film well and they had a lot of keys when they were sliding the protection," said Ken Ekanem, who had two of the Hokies' six sacks. "We had a lot of indicators and we knew when someone was going to be left one-on-one. We look forward to one-on-one matchups and pride ourselves on winning those. We did a good job of that today."

THE TAKEAWAY

EAST CAROLINA: Coming off a 20-15 loss at South Carolina and playing its third consecutive game against a Power 5 opponent, the Pirates looked a step slow and out of sorts from the opening kick. They went three-and-out on five first-half possessions. The Pirates hope to regroup now that they have finished the non-conference portion of their schedule.

"That was clearly the best football team that we have played," ECU coach Scottie Montgomery said. "The most physical. The biggest. The fastest. The strongest. The smartest. I thought they competed well in their scheme. They played great emotional football. They leaned on their crowd. They played a complete football game -- as complete as it gets."

VIRGINIA TECH: The Hokies dominated on special teams, scoring three touchdowns as a result of those units. Greg Stroman scored on an 87-yard punt return, and Cam Phillips blocked a punt that led to an Evans touchdown pass to Travon McMillian. A sack of ECU punter Worth Gregory in the fourth quarter led to a 1-yard touchdown run by backup quarterback Brenden Motley.

UP NEXT

EAST CAROLINA: The Pirates open AAC play next Saturday with a home game against UCF. ECU blasted the Golden Knights 44-7 last season for their first win in Orlando since 2008.

VIRGINIA TECH: The Hokies are off next week before taking on North Carolina on Oct. 8 and will be looking to avenge last year's 30-27 overtime loss. The Hokies have won nine of the 12 meetings with the Tar Heels since joining the ACC.

Kurt Benkert rescues Virginia against Central Michigan, 49-35

Kurt Benkert rescues Virginia against Central Michigan, 49-35

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Kurt Benkert threw five touchdown passes, the last three after Virginia had squandered all of a 28-0 lead, and the Cavaliers gave coach Bronco Mendenhall his 100th career victory, 49-35 over Central Michigan on Saturday.

Benkert hit Olamide Zaccheaus with a go-ahead 82-yard pass after the Cavaliers defense forced its first punt since the opening quarter. Virginia (1-3) forced another punt, and Benkert hit Albert Reid for a 5-yard touchdown, capping a 73-yard drive. Taquan Mizzell also scored twice for Virginia on runs of 4 and 53 yards.

"That's a happy group of young men in that locker room," Mendenhall said. "I'm certainly not saying we've arrived, but it's a nice start."

The Chippewas (3-1), seeking their first 4-0 start since 1985, scored on four of five possessions after going behind 28-0 less than 20 minutes into the game.

Cooper Rush for 402 yards and two touchdown passes to Corey Willis, including an 85-yarder, and Amari Coleman read a screen pass perfectly and scored on a 47-yard interception return.

Mendenhall, in his first year at Virginia, was 99-43 in 11 seasons at BYU before coming east.

THE TAKEAWAY

Central Michigan: The Chippewas are a confident team, and showed it even when trailing by three touchdowns in a loud stadium. They used timeouts when Virginia had the ball late in the second quarter to stop the clock, and cashed in with two touchdowns in the last 4 1/2 minutes of the half to get within 28-14.

Virginia: Rush picked apart the Virginia secondary, which lost cornerback Juan Thornhill on the first play of the game. The unit also lacks speed and played off the Central Michigan receivers for much of the day, allowing several long completions that produced third-down conversions. Kareem Gibson was a frequent target, but acquitted himself with a fourth-quarter interception to set up an insurance TD.

UP NEXT

Central Michigan: The Chippewas head into Mid-American Conference play at home against Western Michigan.

Virginia: The Cavaliers, losers of 17 in a row on the road, will try to end that skid as they open their Atlantic Coast Conference schedule at Duke.