Nowicki to Illinois should heat up Penn State rivalry

SHARE Nowicki to Illinois should heat up Penn State rivalry

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An

already spicy Big Ten opener between Penn State and Illinois just got a little

hotter.

Ryan

Nowicki, a redshirt freshman offensive lineman from Glendale, Ariz., who has

Illinois roots, is transferring to Champaign. The 6-5, 280-pound Nowicki, who

has four years of eligibility left, is the eighth Penn State player to leave State

College under NCAA sanctions that allow players to change schools without

penalty.

Nowicki

is the first Nittany Lion to transfer within the Big Ten. Leading the departures

from Penn State is star running back Silas Redd, who is headed for USC.

New

coach Bill O’Brien will lead Penn State against Illinois in Champaign on Sept.

29 opposite Tim Beckman, who also is in his first year as Illini coach. Sources

said O’Brien already was not pleased with Beckman, who dispatched eight

assistants to Penn State to talk to Nittany Lions about transferring.

While

some Big Ten coaches declined to recruit Penn State players in wake of the

scandal at the scandal, Beckman defended the move, pointing out that no rules

were broken. Other Big Ten schools reportedly were recruiting in State College,

but they weren’t as visible as the Illlnois staff.

The

game shapes up as an important barometer for both schools and their first-year

coaches. Penn State opens league play with a road test after a relatively

low-keyed nonconference schedule. Illinois, which travels to conference powers Wisconsin

and Michigan on Oct. 6 and 13, could give itself a boost by taking care of

business at home first.

For

all the attention Ilinois’ recruitment of Penn State players has attracted, Illini

quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase doesn’t expect the contest to turn into a grudge

match.

“I

don’t think it will,” the three-year starter said. “I think people forget

about any grudges they held pretty quick, especially when the season gets

going. Because then it’s about winning ballgames.

“I

think there will be more hype surrounding Its first weekend of the Big Ten. It’s

our opener, and I’m sure people will be paying attention to Penn State and how

their season is shaping up. But we’ll be foused on doing our best job to find a

way to get a win, and I’m sure they’ll be doing the same.”

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