Kicker-punter Anthony Fera is bolting Penn State for Texas, the second starter to depart Happy Valley this week following harsh NCAA sanctions against the program for the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
Fera has submitted paperwork to enroll at Texas this season, said a person with knowledge of the decision who requested anonymity because Texas has not yet announced the move. Penn State announced Thursday that Fera was no longer on its roster.
The junior with the powerful right leg was one of the top specialists in the Big Ten after hitting 14 of 17 field-goal tries and averaging 42 yards a punt last season.
Incoming freshman defensive lineman Jamil Pollard, who had yet to play for coach Bill O’Brien, is also no longer with the squad. Six players have now left the program this week in the wake of the NCAA penalties including a four-year postseason ban and significant scholarship reductions.
Fera, from the Houston area, is the second starter to go. The biggest loss at Penn State is 1,200-yard rusher Silas Redd, who departed Tuesday for Southern California.
O’Brien, the former coordinator of the New England Patriots’ high-scoring offense, will have to reshape Penn State’s attack without its best offensive player.
Top backup linebacker Khairi Fortt, is another key departure after transferring to another Pac-12 destination, California. Penn State’s starting defense, though, is expected to remain intact.
A seventh player, backup quarterback Rob Bolden, was removed from the roster this week but was given his release before the NCAA sanctions.
Bolden, who has since transferred to LSU, began the previous two seasons as the starter before losing the job by the end of each year. O’Brien demoted Bolden to third-string this spring.
In light of the unprecedented sanctions, the NCAA is allowing Nittany Lion players to seek new schools and play immediately. Most players considering a transfer are trying to make a decision before their new schools start fall practice.
O’Brien had said last week that more than 50 players had re-affirmed their commitments to Penn State, and another six 2013 recruits did likewise last weekend.
But the transfers, along with a handful of other offseason departures unrelated to the sanctions, are taking a toll on the Penn State depth chart. The team could finally reach some roster stability Monday, when they start preseason practice.