When Brown arrived in early August, Sooner co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel clearly saw the transfer's physical ability. But with transfers — particularly ones arriving in the abrupt, difficult fashion Brown did — coaches can never be 100 percent certain of how everything will work out.
“You never know how it all fits together until they're there in the middle of it,” Heupel said. “Everything happened fast with him, so maybe even a little bit less.
“The thing that was surprising for me was just how mature he was as a person. How he handled himself every moment of every day — in the meeting room, on the practice field. I think, in large part because of that, he transitioned well.”
One roadblock that nearly halted Brown from transferring was his anticipated December graduation. A move to Oklahoma was originally expected to require added coursework for Brown to finish on time.
But Sooners coach Bob Stoops hatched a plan that proved successful: Brown took fall classes at OU, transferred them back to Penn State and graduated in December as planned.
“I'm just gonna get my diploma mailed out,” he said when asked if he attended Penn State's fall commencement ceremony.
“I didn't want to get all into the distractions like that. It would've been a little too much.”
The Penn State graduate and Oklahoma football player will spend the next several weeks celebrating the two universities he'll forever be associated with.
“Penn State was really good to him,” said Joel Brown, Justin's father. “I'm glad he's got this opportunity to go back there and get his degree.”