• PSU players discuss why they stayed

    STATE COLLEGE – Like many of his Penn State teammates, Mike Hull thought about transferring after the NCAA sanctions were imposed three weeks ago.

    Hull considered leaving only for Pittsburgh, which is about a half-hour north of his hometown of Canonsburg in southwestern Pennsylvania.

    He was torn by his options, which weighed heavily on his mind until he decided last week to stay at Penn State.

    “Yeah, I definitely feel like a load has been lifted from my shoulders,” Hull said Thursday. “As soon as I made that final decision to stay, I was just elated.”

    Nine Penn State players have left the program since the NCAA sanctions were handed down in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, including running back Silas Redd, kicker/punter Anthony Fera and wide receiver Justin Brown.

    But Hull, a sophomore linebacker, and several other talented underclassmen have decided not to transfer, at least for now.

    “Pitt was the only school I considered just because it’s so close to home and a good situation to walk into,” he said. “Ultimately, I knew Penn State was where I wanted to be because of the school, the education and my friends.

    “This is still a great football program and a great coaching staff. I just love it here.”

    Hull had Penn State connections before he enrolled here. His father, Tom, and uncle, John, played for the Nittany Lions in the 1970s. In addition, his coach at Canon-McMillan was Guy Montecalvo, a former Penn State player.  

    “My dad said, ‘I obviously love Penn State but you have to do what’s best for you,’ ” Hull said. “ ‘This is a decision you have to make on your own. You’re old enough.’ ”

    Hull is expected to see significant playing time as the fourth linebacker behind Gerald Hodges, Michael Mauti and Glenn Carson.

    Allen Robinson, a sophomore, was listed as a starting wide receiver before Brown, the top returning receiver, transferred to Oklahoma. Robinson also was a high school teammate of quarterback Rob Bolden, who transferred to LSU.

    “There are not too many staffs like this in college football,” Robinson said. “Coach (Bill) O’Brien coming from the Patriots and having the experience he has and (wide receivers) Coach (Stan) Hixon having the experience he has, it (Penn State) was the only thing for me.

    “The strength staff has gotten me a lot stronger.  They have the mindset to get us ready to play at the next level. I definitely have the ambition to play at the next level… I really didn’t have any other mind to go anywhere else. This is where I wanted to be.”

    Donovan Smith, regarded as a four-star offensive lineman coming out of high school, was redshirted last season, but he’s expected to start at tackle when Penn State opens its season against Ohio University Sept. 1 at Beaver Stadium.

    Like Robinson, Smith said he was contacted by many schools after the NCAA sanctions were announced.

    “The first couple of days were kind of tough,” Smith said. “After that, I just went with my gut and my gut was here.

    “(He stayed because of) the fans, playing in front of 108,000 on Saturdays, the academics, the university, the community around it. You couldn’t trade it for anything else.”

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