According to a report from Cole Cubelic via Twitter, defensive backs Lamont Wade and Zech McPhearson and wide receiver Brandon Polk have all entered their names into the transfer portal. The trio joins wide receiver Juwan Johnson, who announced his intentions to transfer to a new school on Friday.
Three more Penn State players have entered the transfer portal: Defensive backs Zachariah Mcphearson & Lamont Wade as well as WR Brandon Polk who started 7 games in 2018.
— Cole Cubelic (@colecubelic) January 13, 2019
This news is both expected and unexpected. For Polk, this seemed to be the obvious route. The rising redshirt senior had a tough 2018 season in which he struggled with drops and was eventually replaced in the starting lineup by true freshman Jahan Dotson. Polk never quite reached his full potential at Penn State, though hopefully a change of scenery will allow him to rediscover the form that made him a four-star recruit.
McPhearson, a rising redshirt junior, hadn't had much luck cracking the starting rotation at cornerback to this point in his career, but Penn State has been fairly loaded at the position in recent years with names such as Grant Haley, Amani Oruwariye, John Reid, and Tariq Casto-Fields. McPhearson had become a strong special teamer, but with Reid, TCF, as well as Donovan Johnson, Trent Gordon, and other youngsters returning in 2019, it's not inexplicable that he decided this is his chance to find playing time elsewhere.
Wade is a different story. If you just take the surface level view, it's not shocking. A former four/five-star prospect who has yet to find consistent playing time decides to test out the transfer waters—such situations occur every year. What makes this decision more confusing is that Wade, who spent the past year learning the ins and outs of the safety position, seemed to be one of the leading candidates to win the starting safety job next to Garrett Taylor for the upcoming season.
With Wade's athleticism and speed, he seems a natural fit to play in a center field type role, but with the added bonus of having the versatility to man up if needed. The presence of primary backup Jonathan Sutherland certainly mucks things up for Wade, but the two are very different players. Should he have been able to win the job, everything looked to be falling into place for the Pittsburgh-native to have a breakout 2019. Yet it appears that he will now see if there is another school where he feels he is a better fit.
It is worth noting that simply because these players have entered their names into the portal, it does not mean they can't still return to Penn State. However, the school has the right to cancel the scholarship of any student-athlete who enters the transfer portal, meaning that those kids would have no choice but to find a new home in order to maintain an athletic scholarship.
*Update- Zech McPhearson has confirmed via Twitter that he will be transferring to a new school following his graduation this spring.
— Zech McPhearson (@ZMcphearson) January 13, 2019
*Update (1/17/19) -Brandon Polk has confirmed his intention to transfer following his graduation in May.
Thank You Penn State! pic.twitter.com/hUPNXh4Nhv
— The Kidd (@TheKidd603) January 17, 2019