Penn State senior cornerback Stephon Morris understands why some of his former teammates felt compelled to leave the program.
The Nittany Lions are dealing with harsh NCAA sanctions stemming from the school's handling of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, including a four-year postseason ban and a reduction in scholarships.
Another penalty was the ability of PSU players to transfer to other FBS schools and be eligible to compete immediately. As of this writing, eight scholarship players had left the program.
And Morris is OK with all of them except one -- offensive lineman Ryan Nowicki. The Arizona native, who never played a down at Penn State, bolted for Illinois.
Seeing a teammate move to another Big Ten school caused Morris' blood to boil. Nowicki was the only former Lion to stay within the conference.
I'm gonna say what I'm gonna say, Morris said at Penn State football Media Day Thursday. That's like me saying I'm gonna transfer to Michigan -- how would they feel?
No, that's a coward move to me.
A day after the NCAA handed down its sanctions in late July, new Illinois coach Tim Beckman and his staff traveled to State College to recruit Penn State players. Nowicki, who was not listed on the summer depth chart, was the only Lion to pick Illinois.
Soon after Nowicki's destination was announced, Morris tweeted: "One thing u don't do is Jump from big ten school to another big ten school."
The more important losses for PSU were receiver Justin Brown (to Oklahoma), kicker Anthony Fera (to Texas) and running back Silas Redd (to USC).
I wish Justin and those guys nothing but the best, Morris said Thursday.
Penn State opens its Big Ten season at Illinois Sept. 29.