Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Bill O'Brien begins to tackle questions about future Penn State transfers

As Penn State's season winds down, questions about which players will transfer -- with no penalty, as per the NCAA's sanctions -- will become more common.

Bill O'Brien begins to tackle questions about future Penn State transfers

Penn State football coach Bill O´Brien. (Seth Perlman/AP)
Penn State football coach Bill O'Brien. (Seth Perlman/AP)

They call themselves the 'Supa Six,' and you've probably already heard of them. 

Most college football fans, players and coaches across the country probably have, too -- and therein lies the problem. 

Penn State sophomores Allen Robinson, Bill Belton, Adrian Amos, Kyle Carter, Donovan Smith and Deion Barnes are close friends who share the same ambition, a Twitter handle (@TheeSupa6) and a role in the Nittany Lions' future. 

Robinson is the star wide receiver; Belton the running back with untapped potential; Amos is the do-everything defensive back; Carter is the breakout star tight end; Smith is a rock-steady offensive lineman; Barnes is the defensive tackle already showing NFL promise. 

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The super-talented Supa Six could be the centerpiece to hold Penn State through the next few seasons, as the NCAA sanctions begin to ripple throughout the program. If they stay, they develop in Bill O'Brien's system and become even better football players.

If one leaves, do they all leave? And then what happens? 

As Penn State's season winds down, questions about which players will transfer -- with no penalty, as per the NCAA's sanctions -- will become more common. On Tuesday, before the Lions' final two game homestand, O'Brien was asked about the topic. It likely won't be the last time. 

"The group that calls themselves the Supa Six, have you heard of them?" a reporter asked the coach. 

O'Brien chuckled and smiled slightly. "Oh yeah," he said. 

"Are you worried they might make a move in the offseason because they are so young and talented?" the reporter asked. 

And so began what might be O'Brien's stock answer for the next few weeks. 

"Do you know what I worry about? I worry about my son, I worry about my kids, I worry about my family," O'Brien said. "I don't worry about things that are out of our control." 

It's the prerogative of each player to make a decision on his future. At separate times this season, each member has vowed their commitment to the program. But in the offseason -- a free-agency, of sorts -- anything can happen. 

Even still, on Tuesday O'Brien seemed optimistic about keeping the group in tact. 

"I will tell you this about that group of players; they have great camaraderie," O'Brien said. "I think they love playing for Penn State. I believe they understand the value of the education here at Penn State...they know that their talents will be showcased here to play and with good schemes on both sides of the ball. I think those guys are committed to Penn State. But you would have to ask them." 

Indeed, they will be asked. The answer might not come until next preseason.

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About this blog
Joe Juliano has been a staff writer for The Inquirer for 30 years, covering covering Penn State football, Villanova basketball and other college sports, along with golf and the Penn Relays. This is his seventh season on The Inquirer’s Penn State beat. He previously covered the Nittany Lions for United Press International from 1976-84.

Joining Joe this season is Erin McCarthy, an intern for The Inquirer and a junior at Penn State majoring in print and digital journalism. This is Erin's first season on the Penn State football beat. She previously spent two summers as an Inquirer summer intern on the Pennsylvania and South Jersey desks. She is also an editor for the Daily Collegian, the university's student newspaper. A Delaware County native, Erin graduated from Episcopal Academy.

Reach Joe at jjuliano@phillynews.com.

Joe Juliano Inquirer Staff Writer
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