NORMAN — After long, difficult deliberations, Penn State wide receiver Justin Brown has decided to transfer to Oklahoma for his senior season, ESPN.com reported Saturday night.
Brown will be immediately eligible to play for the Sooners, as per a provision in the NCAA sanctions handed down in response to the Penn State child abuse scandal.
The drawn-out process in choosing between Oklahoma and Penn State is reminiscent of Brown's previous recruiting decision, made as a senior at Concord High School in Wilmington, Del., in 2009.
He had narrowed his many scholarship offers down to Penn State and Rutgers, but the low-key Brown didn't let anyone know which way he leaned.
Even his coach, George Kosanovich, didn't know his decision until signing day. He said it's just an example of Brown's quiet nature.
“I think the coaches from Rutgers thought they had him,” Kosanovich said. “But he ended up going to Penn State.”
This time, though, Penn State lost out on Brown.
First-year coach Bill O'Brien reportedly met multiple times over the past couple of days with Brown, but was unable to convince him to stay.
Brown had 35 receptions, 517 yards and two touchdowns last season at Penn State, but could see a vast increase in production as part of a more pass-oriented offensive system like Oklahoma's.
In high school, Kosanovich used Brown at both flanker and safety, one of just a few Concord players who has seen action on both sides of the ball.
“He's not afraid to hit, or be hit,” the coach said. “He was outstanding back there. He would come up and really, really smack kids.
“I thought he could be a great safety, myself, but his hands are too good.”
He also has skills in the return game; he was 36th nationally last year in punt returns.
“He's always been a punt returner from the first day he walked on the field for them,” Kosanovich said. “He can catch the ball. He doesn't miss.”
Brown is the ninth Nittany Lion to leave the program since the NCAA handed down its sanctions, and the second to join a Big 12 school; kicker Anthony Fera announced his transfer to Texas last week.
At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Brown becomes OU's biggest wide receiver; junior-college transfer Lacoltan Bester is also 6-3 and weighs a little less.
Brown might also help take pressure off junior Kenny Stills by giving quarterback Landry Jones another target with some experience; Stills has been OU's only active receiver or tight end with a career Division I reception.
Even with Brown's addition, though, the Sooners will be forced to rely on lots of young talent at receiver.
Veteran wideouts Jaz Reynolds and Trey Franks were reinstated Wednesday from their May suspensions, but sophomore Kameel Jackson's reinstatement was ruled out Saturday by coach Bob Stoops.
Stoops said earlier this week that Reynolds and Franks would still miss a “considerable” amount of games, and are only reinstated for practices.
“When you only have one guy in Kenny Stills that's in a position to play here in the first part of the season, those guys have to step up,” Stoops said at Saturday's media day of the young wideouts.
“I'm encouraged in the first couple of days, the young freshman receivers look like a good and talented group and are really doing well.”