Penn State has lost its kicker. And punter. And leading scorer.
The Nittany Lions' shrinking roster suffered another setback Thursday when junior Anthony Fera announced his decision to transfer to Texas.
Fera juggled multiple roles, serving as the Nittany Lions' kicker and punter last season. After missing the opener against Indiana State because of a suspension, he drilled 14 of 17 field goals. His powerful right foot accounted for 62 points in 2011.
Fera, who attended St. Pius X High School in Houston, is one of eight players to leave Penn State this week. Penn State also removed redshirt freshman offensive lineman Ryan Nowicki from the roster on Thursday. Nowicki is expected to transfer to Illinois.
The NCAA's transfer waiver for Penn State players means Fera can play at Texas immediately. Fera released a statement through Texas' sports information department that said a family illness played a role in his decision.
"I've been afforded the opportunity to give back to my family and make their lives a little easier by transferring to a university much closer to home," he said.
Fera also said in the statement that he will fulfill a promise to former coach Joe Paterno by earning a Penn State degree.
Losing Fera, who visited Texas' campus last weekend, damages the Nittany Lions' special teams.
Fera was the first player since Chris Bahr in 1975 to handle Penn State's field goals, kickoffs and punts. He averaged 42.0 yards per punt. Fera was named to the Lou Groza Award Watch List last month. The award honors the nation's top kicker.
Sophomore Sam Ficken entered the summer as No. 2 kicker behind Fera. Ficken, a first-team Associated Press All-State selection at Valparaiso (Ind.) High School, kicked a 43-yard field goal against Eastern Michigan last season.
Junior Alex Butterworth is the only other punter on the current roster. Butterworth, a first-team Associated Press All-State kicker at Heritage Christian (Ind.) High School, averaged 38.5 yards on eight punts last season.
Senior Evan Lewis, who started last season by going 1 of 5 on field-goal attempts, has moved to wide receiver.
Ficken and redshirt freshman Matt Marcincin give Penn State two kickers on the current roster. Former State College High School standout Josh Clothiaux will try to join the Nittany Lions as walk-on.
Clothiaux, a first-team Pennsylvania Football News All-State selection last season, hails from a high school program that has recently produced multiple Division I kickers, including former Penn State starter Collin Wagner. Clothiaux, who started kicking as a junior, helped State College reach the PIAA playoffs in football, soccer and basketball.
Nowicki is the first offensive lineman to leave Penn State since the sanctions were announced last Monday. He didn't land on the depth chart coach Bill O'Brien released earlier this summer.
Running back Silas Redd (USC), quarterback Rob Bolden (LSU), safety Tim Buckley (North Carolina State), linebacker Khairi Fortt (California), tight end Kevin Haplea (Florida State) and defensive lineman Jamil Pollard (Rutgers) are also using the transfer waiver.
Penn State players report to campus Sunday. Preseason practices begin Monday. O'Brien is expecting to have more than 100 players on the roster when camp begins.
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