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Now USC’s Lane Kiffin may be chasing a ‘free agent'—Silas Redd

My, how times — and circumstances — have changed.

Two years ago, the NCAA pounded USC with sanctions that gave Trojans upperclassmen freedom to transfer.

USC Coach Lane Kiffin took to routinely bemoaning the period as the era of Trojans “free agency.”

On Tuesday at Pac-12 Conference media day, Kiffin was asked what advice he would offer new Penn State Coach Bill O’Brien in the wake of NCAA penalties that make every Nittany Lions player a potential free agent.

Kiffin said it was a tough situation.

“You have coaches around the country calling your players,” he said.

Coaches like . . . Kiffin.

Before, during and after his time on stage with Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley and safety T.J. McDonald, Kiffin not-so-subtly recruited Penn State running back Silas Redd.

Kiffin never mentioned Redd’s name or responded directly to inquiries about the 5-foot-10, 200-pound junior, who rushed for 1,241 yards and seven touchdowns last season. But his message was loud and clear: Please come to USC.

After the NCAA slammed Penn State on Monday, USC contacted the school about its intent to recruit Redd, said a person who spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to comment publicly on the situation.

Asked about Redd, Kiffin said he could not speak about Penn State players.

However, he missed no opportunity to continue his pursuit.

In his opening remarks, Kiffin addressed USC’s standing as the conference favorite, its place at or near the top in preseason polls, its recruiting prowess and the impending opening of the $70-million John McKay Center for athletics.

“We kind of feel like we’re in a perfect storm with so many good things going,” Kiffin said, adding, “We’re two years removed from what was handed down as people saying, ‘USC is over.’”

Then, he calculatedly pointed out that the Trojans’ major concern was lack of depth at running back.

Kiffin later said that senior Curtis McNeal, who gained 1,005 yards last season, suffered injuries in practices and during games. And that redshirt sophomore D.J. Morgan had not played very much. And that incoming freshman Nelson Agholor, regarded as a possible complement to Robert Woods and Marqise Lee at receiver, was slated instead to open training camp on Aug. 6 as a running back.

“As of today, that’s the direction he’s headed,” Kiffin said, later adding, “We would rather have Nelson be a receiver but the situation that we’re in today has made us move him there as of today.”

Emphasis, purposely placed by Kiffin, was on today.

That could change if Redd decides to join the Trojans, who are limited to 75 scholarship players — 10 below the allowable maximum — in each of the next three seasons.

According to guidelines released by the NCAA on Monday, “a school subject to scholarship limits due to an infractions case is allowed to accept transfers from Penn State but cannot exceed the scholarship limits specified in its infractions report.”

Early Tuesday, responding to a text from the Patriot-News newspaper asking whether his son was considering USC, Redd’s father reportedly texted back, “Still sifting through it all!” Later, he told the Hartford Courant, “Silas Redd is a student-athlete at Penn State University, period.”

In Kiffin’s mind, just add the word “today.”

Barkley said he would support the addition of Penn State players and that it would not adversely affect the team’s chemistry.

“We would make it work,” he said.

Ty Isaac of Joliet Catholic High in Illinois and Justin Davis of Stockton Lincoln are tailbacks in the class of 2013 who have made oral commitments to the Trojans.

Notes

Barkley said he spoke briefly with Tim Tebow when the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner worked out recently at USC and that he also gleaned insight from Peyton and Eli Manning during his stint at the Mannings’ annual passing camp in Louisiana. . . . Woods still is not fully recovered from ankle surgery but he is expected to participate when the Trojans open training camp, Kiffin said. . . . Zach Banner, a 6-foot-9 incoming freshman offensive tackle from Washington, has practiced with the Trojans’ basketball team, Kiffin said. . . . USC plans to launch a free mobile app that will include “statistical information, videos and interactive games and chats.”

gary.klein@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesklein


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