Report: Standout kicker leaving Penn State for Texas

As a placekicker, Anthony Fera did not miss from inside the 40-yard line in 2011. GENE J. PUSKAR / Associated Press
As a placekicker, Anthony Fera did not miss from inside the 40-yard line in 2011. GENE J. PUSKAR / Associated Press
Posted: August 03, 2012

The water-torture of daily roster defections continued Thursday for Penn State's beleaguered football program when the Nittany Lions' leading scorer in 2011 departed for the University of Texas.

According to multiple reports, punter-kicker Anthony Fera, an all-Big Ten Conference punter who as a placekicker was perfect from inside 40 yards in 2011, has informed coach Bill O'Brien of his decision.

Fera, a Texas native who was a 2011 semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award and is a preseason candidate for that honor this year, decided to transfer even though he has just one year of eligibility remaining.

Because of the NCAA sanctions imposed on Penn State after the Jerry Sandusky child sexual-abuse scandal, he can play for the Longhorns immediately.

Penn State, which scored 251 points last season, has lost two players who combined for 104 of them. Sera had 62 points, converting 14 of 17 field goals and 20 extra points.

Earlier this week, the team's second-leading scorer, running back Silas Redd (42 points on seven rushing touchdowns), left to play for Southern California.

Without Fera, the placekicking chores likely will go to his backup, sophomore Sam Ficken. The only punter listed on the roster is Alex Butterworth, who punted for an average of 38.5 yards on eight kicks as a sophomore in 2011.

It's possible Fera could step right into a key role at Texas; the Longhorns' punter and kicker from a year ago, Justin Tucker, graduated in the spring.

With just four days remaining until the deadline for transfers - the start of summer camp - the Nittany Lions have lost five players, a nonroster quarterback who started for them a year ago, and a prized freshman recruit.

That recruit, Jamil Pollard, a defensive tackle from West Deptford High, acknowledged Thursday that the unprecedented NCAA sanctions motivated him to transfer to Rutgers.

"Once the sanctions hit, I started to think about other opportunities," Pollard said. "Everybody knew they were coming, but I didn't think they would be that bad. I was shocked at how bad they were."

Pollard said he has returned home from Penn State, where he had been taking summer classes, and will finish two courses online. He will report to Rutgers when camp opens Sunday.

"When Rutgers showed interest in me, I knew I wanted to be there," he said. "If it wasn't Rutgers, I would still be at Penn State."

While O'Brien continues to point to all the Penn State players who won't be leaving, his team could lose a couple of more talented ones in the near future.

A source at Penn State confirmed that incoming freshman running back Akeel Lynch, expected to help fill Redd's shoes, has had contact with Iowa.

And ESPN.com reported that senior wideout Justin Brown has spoken with coaches at Oklahoma and had a meeting scheduled Thursday with O'Brien.

Losing Brown would be another blow to the pro-style passing offense O'Brien hopes to install. With 35 catches in 2011, Brown had far more than the returning wideouts combined.


Contact staff writer Frank Fitzpatrick at 215-854-5068 or ffitzpatrick@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @philafitz. Read his blog, "Giving 'Em Fitz," at www.philly.com/fitz


 

Staff writer Phil Anastasia contributed to this article.

 

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