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Redd could be new coach Bill O'Brien’s most valuable player _ if he stays. The tailback had seven rushing touchdowns last season, and averaged 95.5 yards per game on the ground as Penn State finished 9-4.

The junior with the dazzling open-field spin move visited Southern California over the weekend. Another good season could have Redd thinking about leaving for the NFL a year early.

A person familiar with Redd’s decision said the running back was returning from California on Monday and could make his decision as early as Tuesday. The person requested anonymity because no one was authorized to speak for Redd.

Most players in attendance said they hoped Redd and other teammates considering leaving would stay, but that they would honor their choices either way.

Redd’s “a man and he’s going to make the right decision,” said Zordich, who opens up running lanes for the tailback.

Tight end Garry Gilliam acknowledged guys such as Redd and linebacker Khairi Fortt, another player considering a transfer, had tough decisions.

“Each player came here for different reasons and with different objectives,” Gilliam said. “When it comes down to it, I’d like them to stay, but if they don’t I’ll respect their decisions.”

Two players have already departed.

On Monday, backup safety Tim Buckley, a former walk-on, became the first player to transfer, returning to his native North Carolina to play for North Carolina State. Penn State also confirmed Monday that former starting quarterback Rob Bolden had left the team, though the demoted signal-caller was given the OK to consider other schools before the NCAA meted out its punishments.

Still, the majority of O'Brien’s core players appear to be sticking with Penn State, determined to weather out what could be a stormy season for the program.

It’s the difficulty facing players that prompted former Nittany Lions Keith Conlin and Tim Sweeney to organize the rally.

“People are just happy to come up here and have something to cheer about finally,” said Conlin, who broadcasted the online radio show he hosts with Sweeney at the event. Both are local businessmen. “How long has it been since they had something to cheer about around here?”

Local businesses provided coffee and doughnuts. After players arrived, fans streamed on to the practice field to watch workouts _ something that rarely happened during Paterno’s tenure.

Most downtown businesses are displaying “Proud to Support Penn State Football” signs on windows. Some stores have started selling shirts with the slogan “Billieve,” playing off of O'Brien’s first name.

Sweeney also heads the Penn State Football Lettermen’s club, and at least 260 former players are expected to attend a team meeting later Tuesday night in another show of support for current Nittany Lions.

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