NORMAN — Justin Brown and Anthony Fera were part of the same Penn State football recruiting class four years ago.
Brown, a senior receiver, and Fera, a redshirt junior kicker, stayed Nittany Lion teammates until early August.
This week, though, Brown and Fera are preparing with new teammates in Oklahoma and Texas, respectively, for Saturday's Red River Rivalry game in the Cotton Bowl, where the former Nittany Lions will meet as opponents.
“He tweeted me today,” Brown said after Tuesday's practice. “Asked me if I was ready.
“That should be fun. I'm glad to see him.”
Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, Jerry Sandusky — the felon whose child abuse shamed Penn State, brought down the late Joe Paterno and caused Brown, Fera and seven of their teammates to transfer — was sentenced to at least 30 years in prison, essentially a life term for the 68-year old former Nittany Lions assistant coach.
“It's not my place at all to comment on that,” Brown said when asked about Sandusky's sentence.
During a recent interview with The Oklahoman, Brown said he saw Sandusky around Penn State facilities a few times but never met him.
“He wasn't around that much for people to really get to know him,” Brown said. “We'd only seen him a couple of times.”
After the NCAA's harsh sanctions, which included immediate eligibility for any Penn State players who wanted to transfer, Brown chose Oklahoma. He called the transfer a “personal decision for me and my family,” and said he didn't leave Penn State to “run away from the situation.”
Still, Brown said the continuing saga was draining for players; every time they thought it was over, he said, something else came up.
“You got to a point where you thought, ‘Wow. This is never gonna end,'” Brown said. “It would die down for about a month, and then something else would come up.
“You would never think that something like that would happen at a school you go to. Or happen at all.”
Brown caught his first OU touchdown pass last week at Texas Tech; the senior has started all four of OU's games and hauled in 15 catches for 154 yards since transferring just after fall camp began.
Fera is from the Houston area, and has said he left the Nittany Lions to be close to a sick family member.
He missed Texas' first four games with a groin injury, but returned for last week's home loss to West Virginia, during which he missed a 41-yard attempt with five minutes left that would've tied the game.
Brown said Penn State's biggest rival is “probably Ohio State,” but later acknowledged that — because of Ohio State's annual grudge match with Michigan — Saturday's OU-Texas tilt will be his first experience in a college football rivalry game this heated.
Still, Brown is forever linked with his new rival's kicker; he and Fera are part of the group that chose to leave Penn State and, in doing so, live with the intense — sometimes hateful — fan criticism that came with leaving.
“We're there to support each other,” Brown said, “but also the rest of the team that's still at Penn State. We're watching each others' games.
“I talk to those guys every couple days to see how they're doing. We're gonna be like that for the rest of our lives; just because people leave doesn't mean you don't talk any more. Hopefully none of them have hard feelings against me.”
The Nittany Lions started the 2012 season 0-2, but have since won four straight games.
“They're doing good,” Brown said. “It's nice to see them go out there and win some games.”
Fera, a senior academically, and Brown each plan to transfer their credits back to Penn State and graduate as Nittany Lions.
For now, though, the two are focused on their current teams, neither of which can afford a second Big 12 Conference loss Saturday in the Cotton Bowl.
“He's a leader because of the way he handles himself, carries himself and competes,” OU co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said of Brown.
“He's getting better every week.”