IRVING, Texas — Penn State receiver Justin Brown's junior season ended Jan. 2, 2012, in a TicketCity Bowl loss to Houston inside Dallas' Cotton Bowl Stadium.
A little over one year later, Oklahoma receiver and newly minted Penn State graduate Justin Brown will end his college football career Friday in the Cotton Bowl game against Texas A&M at Arlington's Cowboys Stadium.
The last few whirlwind months turned out pretty well for Brown, who bolted for Norman in the aftermath of the Penn State child abuse scandal, and for Oklahoma, which added a talented, mature difference maker to a wide receiver group in need of one.
“I had high expectations for myself, but I didn't know where it was gonna lead, coming into a new offense and a new team,” Brown said. “I got to give all the credit to my teammates. They made it real comfortable for me to come in and contribute.”
The big, fast senior wide receiver certainly contributed on the field. He enters the Cotton Bowl as Oklahoma's second-leading receiver, with 66 catches, 822 yards and four touchdowns, all career-highs for Brown, who spent his first three college football seasons in an offense that didn't allow him to showcase his abilities.
“We had a good offense; it just wasn't focused on throwing the ball,” Brown said of his time under Joe Paterno at Penn State.
“There's different philosophies ... coaches have different philosophies on winning games, and we won a lot of games. You can't knock an offense just off of that.”
Junior Kenny Stills, who is Oklahoma's leading receiver this year said the season would've gone “in a totally different direction” without Brown and junior Jalen Saunders, who transferred from Fresno State.
“So much experience coming in, and confidence, and (quarterback) Landry (Jones) having confidence in them,” Stills said. “Landry would put the ball out there, and you would know that Jalen would make a play, and the same with Justin.”
But in the leadership department, Brown's contribution to Oklahoma might have ultimately been just as important.