NORMAN — Shortly after introducing senior wide receiver and Penn State transfer Justin Brown to media Tuesday, OU coach Bob Stoops was asked a question no one would've even considered posing mere months ago.
“Do you feel like you've ever had a receiving corps this strong?” a reporter asked.
Stoops let out a brief chuckle.
“That's a different question,” Stoops said. “But, you know what? We're heading that way.”
After three receivers were suspended indefinitely in May, questions have centered around Kenny Stills being the only receiver back with a career reception at this level, how quickly young, inexperienced wideouts could adapt and how long it would take for quarterback Landry Jones to become comfortable with them.
Then, true freshmen Trey Metoyer, Sterling Shepard, Durron Neal and Derrick Woods impressed players and coaches through the spring and summer. Junior-college transfer Lacoltan Bester became academically eligible and has joined the team.
The suspended Trey Franks and Jaz Reynolds were reinstated for practices, although they will still miss a “considerable” amount of games, according to Stoops. The third suspended receiver, Kameel Jackson, was dismissed.
Then Brown (6-foot-3, 210 pounds) chose to transfer from Penn State for his senior season after the NCAA handed down harsh sanctions last month in response to the child abuse scandal that has plagued the school since last November.
A provision in the NCAA's ruling gave current Penn State players the option to transfer to any Football Bowl Subdivision program without sitting out the usually required one season.
Brown was one of nine former Penn State players to take the offer. Some coaches came under intense criticism for recruiting Nittany Lion players, like Illinois coach and former OSU defensive coordinator Tim Beckman, who admitted sending eight assistants to State College, Pa., after the sanctions were announced.
Tuesday, Stoops shot down a question about how he came into contact with Brown.
“I don't need to detail all that,” Stoops said. “That's a long time ago now.”
Brown had 35 receptions, 517 yards and two touchdowns last season at Penn State, but could potentially see a vast increase in production as part of a more pass-oriented offensive system.
“I think everybody can get a chance to showcase their skills in this offense,” Brown said. “They throw the ball a lot. They give the receivers and running backs a lot of opportunities to make plays. Everybody is going to get an equal opportunity to showcase their talents.”
Brown spoke briefly about the difficulty of his decision.
“It was very difficult under the circumstances,” Brown said, “but it was the decision that was best for me and my family. There's no disrespect to Penn State and the players.
“They're still part of my family. I still talk to them every day. I'm trying to get to know a new family now.”
Stoops said he is already impressed with the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Brown's hands, speed, intelligence and punt returning skills, adding that he'd “absolutely” return punts for OU in 2012.
“With a big, strong guy like that punt return-wise, he can run through those tackles or people trying to grab his jersey and pull him down, that's not going to happen,” Stoops said. “He catches (punts) as easily and smooth as anybody I've ever seen.”
The Sooners' offensive system is obviously new to Brown, and he'll have to learn fast; OU's season opener, Sept. 1 at UTEP, is less than a month away.
“Won't take him long,” Stoops said. “In one day out there, he's standing with coach (Jay) Norvell and I, and he's already mouthing the signals. It won't be but a couple, three days and he'll have 90 percent of it.”
Because of NCAA rules, Brown is practicing in just a T-shirt and shorts, unlike his Oklahoma teammates, who are in shoulder pads. He'll get to put pads on for OU's second Wednesday practice, Stoops said.
“Looking out there today, and you see him added to the equation,” Stoops said. “A guy that's a senior that has three years experience of playing and fighting people, crack-back blocking on people, catching the ball. ... It's going to be exciting.”