Illinois made waves last week by sending eight assistant coaches to State College to try to lure Penn State players. The aggressive and controversial approach has yielded at least one Nittany Lion.
Offensive lineman Ryan Nowicki, a redshirt freshman guard, is transferring from Penn State to Illinois, colleague Scott Powers and others are reporting. Nowicki's departure from Penn State has been in the works for a little while, and the 6-foot-5, 280-pound Glendale, Ariz., native, reportedly was deciding between Illinois, Washington and Arizona State.
The Big Ten has waived its intra-conference transfer rule for current Penn State players wishing to leave, Chad Hawley, the league's associate commissioner for compliance, told ESPN.com. So Nowicki will be eligible to play immediately for the Fighting Illini. A three-star recruit who redshirted during the 2011 season, Nowicki adds depth to an Illinois offensive line looking to replace two starters.
Nowicki is the eighth Penn State player to transfer since NCAA sanctions against the program came down last week. He's not a significant loss for the Lions at this point, but you have to wonder how many more will follow. One player Penn State can't afford to lose is wide receiver Justin Brown, who is considering an offer from Oklahoma.
Illinois would like to add more Lions to its roster, which features just 80 scholarship players (not counting Nowicki), first-year coach Tim Beckman said last week.
Penn State and Illinois face one another in the Big Ten opener Sept. 29 in Champaign.