NORMAN — Justin Brown watched college football coaches from around the nation swarm the Penn State parking lot.
Recounting the moments now, a month later, he shook his head.
He isn't going to name the schools, but he said what those coaches did — standing in the parking lot like vultures waiting to pick the carcass of Penn State football — was just disrespectful.
When the NCAA handed out the sanctions – a four-year postseason ban, a $60 million fine and a loss of scholarships – coaches started calling.
Coaches from the Big Ten conference. He brushed off those calls.
Coaches in the parking lot. He didn't want to talk to them.
“After a while I thought, ‘I guess this is how it really is' …,” Brown said.
Then came a call from Oklahoma receivers coach Jay Norvell.
“They called me and told me they weren't going to bash me with calls and fly up and whatnot,” Brown said.
They wanted to give him space. That, to him, was respectful. It's one of the reasons he looked at Oklahoma.
The sensitivity of everything connected with the Jerry Sandusky child-abuse scandal comes across in Brown, Norvell and coach Bob Stoops' carefully chosen words. A week ago, Stoops refused to even discuss the Sooners recruited Brown, saying “I don't need to detail all that. That's a long time ago now.”
On Tuesday, all three pulled the curtain back a bit more as to how and why the senior receiver left Penn State for Oklahoma.
“Those kids didn't ask to be in this situation, and it's just a no-win situation for everyone that's involved,” Norvell said. “They just tried to make the best out of the situation. Justin was a kid we reached out to because we felt like we needed a mature, experienced receiver that's played, and he was interested in the opportunity here.
“The more we talked, the more we felt like it was a good fit.”
“He's got a lot of friends and family and people back there that he feels for, and his teammates he feels for back there,” Norvell said. “I think he was extremely respectful in this whole thing. He didn't want to disrespect the program or the people back there. But at the same time, he felt like this was an opportunity for him. So, life goes on. He's taking advantage of it and we're glad he did.”
During his second meeting with local media, Brown declined to draw any comparisons between Penn State and Oklahoma, his former and new coach or offensive styles. More than once, Brown emphasized he'd rather not attract media attention to himself.
He made a quiet, low-key visit to campus a couple weeks ago. He officially became part of the roster last week, and after a week of practice Stoops praises the way the 6-3, 209-pound receiver seamlessly fits in.
“With the maturity, and the business-like attitude he has, and the skill he has — I mean he's a big guy who can really catch the ball — why wouldn't he?,” Stoops said. “He's not a guy coming from a junior college or coming from high school. He's been in a big-time for three years playing against big-time players in the Big Ten.
“He's ready for this. And you would expect him to be."
Still, there are adjustments. Brown is learning new terminology for plays and passing routes he's run for years. He's still transitioning – he moves into a new apartment Friday. He's also still dealing with fan fallout from his decision.
Some Penn State fans have called him a “ship jumper” and worse. His Twitter profile page still prominently features him in a Penn State uniform, inspiring death threats via the social media network. Brown expresses no concern for his safety.
“You can't take Twitter too seriously,” Brown said. “At the end of the day … I'm here to play football and to graduate.”
He will be taking classes with credits that transfer. He expects to graduate in January with a Penn State degree in media studies.
“No disrespect to Oklahoma,” Brown said. “I'm sure this is a great university, but I just felt like it meant a lot to get that Penn State degree.”
Before the NCAA sanctions, he was staying at State College. Now he's adjusting well to life in Norman.
“At the end of the day, I think everyone wants to win and build good relationships and that's important to me too,” Brown said. “I'm a competitor. I want to go out and do my best.”
His old roommate, running back Silas Redd, is the most high profile of the Penn State transfers. His arrival at USC is being billed as a key to the national title hopes. In Norman, Brown is seen as an answer for an OU receiving corps lacking experience beyond Kenny Stills and the suspended Jaz Reynolds.
Still, even while representing new universities, Brown says they still are what they became at Penn State.
“I just talked to (Silas) last night. I just checked up on him. I talked to Derrick Thomas just to see how he's doing,” Brown said of the junior running back who transferred to Marshall University.
“I'm always going to talk to them. We've already built the bond for three years. Nothing's going to change.”