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Giger: We have no idea which players will transfer

Photo by Penn State Athletics: Antonio Shelton celebrates his sack early in Saturday's win.

Go ahead and try to guess which Penn State players may enter the transfer portal. Spend a lot of time on it. Try and think it through in every way imaginable — from playing time, to stats, to standing on the team or anything else.

Yeah, good luck with that. Because here’s the honest truth: We have no idea what these guys are thinking, who will consider transferring, and how many will do so each year.

Teams could see 10 or more players transfer some years, or 2-3 in other years. The guess here is somewhere around 7-8 a year should be expected at most major programs.

Here’s a list of players in the portal, by the way.

When you see PSU starting defensive tackle Antonio Shelton enter the transfer portal, as he did today, it’s enough to make you do a double take and ask yourself — why?

He finished the season strong, with 2.5 sacks over the final two games. He would have been a starter next season. He might have even been a captain, who knows.

So for Shelton to look to transfer, it should reinforce the notion that any player could be looking to move on at any time and for any reason.

Which is fine. If a player feels like he can put himself in a better position, he’ll have the ability to transfer and be able to play immediately without sitting out. Now, Shelton is a grad transfer, so he could play immediately elsewhere anyway, but new NCAA rules will allow all college football and basketball players that luxury.

Shelton, who has spent five years at PSU already, just seems to be looking for a new opportunity, new scenery, a new challenge. Hopefully he finds all that.

Still, it doesn’t just have to be a fifth-year senior who could be looking for a change of scenery.

With the new transfer rule going into effect, any player at any stage of his career could be looking to evaluate his standing on the team using any and all criteria. He may use different criteria than we in the media or you as fans would use, making what the player could end up doing a true mystery.

Going forward, we should stop being surprised about ANY player who decides to transfer. These young men have so many things going on in their lives, and college athletics have changed dramatically, so no one should assume anything about whether or not any player is perfectly happy in his current situation.

As for players possibly considering transferring:

**It could be a standout freshman who played a lot, did well and would appear to have a bright future in the program.

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**It could be a sophomore who has gone through his redshirt and started to get more playing time.

**It could be a junior who just started for the first time and either had a good or bad year.

**It could be a senior who has had a decent career but believes he can find a situation that best suits his abilities for his final year.

**Or it could be someone like Shelton, who’s been around a long time and just maybe wants to see what life is like somewhere else.

Just because a guy has been a good player at Penn State doesn’t mean he won’t consider transferring. If a player thinks he can find a better landing spot for any reason, even after he’s proven himself at PSU, he can take advantage of this new opportunity to look into it without the penalty of having to sit out a year.

As I have written and said repeatedly in recent months, we are entering the wild wild West in college athletics. This transfer rule will be the biggest change to college football that I’ve seen in my lifetime.

So, we’d better get ready to start seeing some crazy stuff.

One thing every player who’s looking to transfer must keep in mind, though, is something PSU assistant Terry Smith said last week.

“There’s the old adage, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side,” Smith said. “I’ve talked to a few players that have left us prior that played at other universities, and they wish they could come back.”

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Written By

Cory Giger is a 15-year veteran of the Penn State beat and a journalist with 28 years of experience. He has won more than 100 state and national journalism awards during his career, plus he's a voter for the Heisman Trophy in football and Wooden Award in basketball.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Jon Palmer

    December 25, 2020 at 1:35 am

    This new rule is ridiculous. It’s like the coaches and staff work their butts off to find players that can give them a competitive team. And now it is like the entire team are free agents at the end of each season. With many players who had breakout years at mid level schools looking to see if there is a spot for them at Alabama, Clemson, or OSU.

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