NORMAN — Justin Brown made a top stipulation clear to Oklahoma coaches: He was on a path toward December graduation, and wanted it to stay that way.
Brown will reach his goal; nearly four months after leaving Penn State for Oklahoma — and about a month before graduating from his former school — Brown will suit up Saturday for his sixth and final home game on Owen Field, where OU hosts Oklahoma State at 2:30 p.m.
Brown and his parents will be honored before the game, as part of senior day festivities, marking the near conclusion of his brief, unique stay that was brought on by the tragic Penn State child-abuse scandal.
“We never thought his senior day would be there at the beginning of the journey ... It's gonna be pretty emotional,” said Iris Brown, Justin's mother.
Back in early August, the wide receiver was deciding whether to stay at Penn State, which had just been hit with harsh sanctions stemming from Jerry Sandusky's crimes, or transfer to far-away Oklahoma.
Oklahoma's tradition, pass-happy offense and exposure were all positives, but an academic hurdle nearly became too high to overcome.
Brown was set to graduate in December, but it became clear that his classes wouldn't transfer neatly enough to stay on that course at Oklahoma.
“If I could graduate here in the fall, then that would have been fine, too,” Brown said. “But it wouldn't have worked out like that, so I just wanted to take the fastest way to get my degree.”
Stoops hatched a plan: Brown would take classes at OU, transfer them back to Penn State and graduate from the school where his college football career began.
“We had to get that worked out with the deans and professors here, and his deans and professors back there,” Stoops said. “Fortunately both sides worked together well to make sure his best interests were covered.”
Brown's transfer to Oklahoma has been mutually beneficial: For Oklahoma, which brought limited experience back at wide receiver because of graduations and suspensions, Brown has provided veteran leadership and play-making ability.
“He's made a great, great contribution, in many ways,” Stoops said. “His leadership, his attitude, how business-like he is and how he works.”
For his part, Brown was able to escape a program under harsh NCAA sanctions and finally be part of an offense better suited for his 6-foot-3, 219-pound frame and skill set.
Through 10 games at Oklahoma, he's already caught more touchdown passes (4) than he did over his three Penn State seasons combined.
He's also hauled in career-highs in receptions (47) and receiving yards (649).
Asked what he'll remember most about his time in Norman, Brown said, “Probably just how nice the people were here and how nice everyone made it for me given the situation. From teammates, to people at 7-11, to coaches.
“That's what I'm going to remember most.”
Iris Brown said she and her husband, Joel, are appreciative to everyone in Oklahoma for that kindness.
“The Sooner family has been wonderful and welcoming,” she said. “That's the thing you're hesitant about; ‘How is gonna be received, only spending one year there?'
“But I almost feel like he's been there more than one year. We feel like we've been part of the family for a while.”