STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Cornerback Stephon Morris gave a slight shrug Thursday before firing back at one of his former teammates, an offensive lineman who decided to transfer to another Big Ten school.
"C'mon, that's like me saying I'm going to transfer to Michigan. How would you feel? How would they feel?" he said. "Nah, that's a coward move to me."
Offensive tackle Ryan Nowicki, a redshirt freshman guard, was the lone Penn State player to transfer to another Big Ten school when he made the move to Illinois. Eight others transferred out of conference, and Morris wished them the best. But Nowicki?
Morris just shook his head.
"I haven't talked to none of them since camp started," he added.
Morris' brief rant offered some insight into the minds of returning players, who mostly remained mum after the nine transfers. Offensive tackle Adam Gress acknowledged anger was an initial reaction, but Morris' emotions didn't seem to wane a week after Nowicki's transfer made headlines.
Last Thursday, the night the news broke, Morris tweeted: "One thing u don't do is Jump from big ten school to another big ten school." The tweet came about a week after Illinois’ coaching staff reportedly attempted to poach players while on-campus.
Still, most players Thursday deflected any talk of Nowicki. Most tempered their words and labeled the nine departures as relatively low.
"If you're taking a 120-question test and you get nine questions wrong, that's a pretty good grade," safety Malcolm Willis said. "That's how I look at it."
Added defensive tackle Jordan Hill: "That's a great number. We have 100-some guys on the team and, for only nine to be gone, that says a lot about who we are and who Penn State is."
Nine players -- three regular starters -- defected from Penn State since the NCAA handed down unprecedented sanctions that rolled back scholarships and banned postseason appearances for four years.
Those transfers include tailback Silas Redd (USC), quarterback Rob Bolden (LSU), linebacker Khairi Fortt (Cal), safety Tim Buckley (NC State), tight end Kevin Haplea (Florida State), defensive tackle Jamil Pollard (Rutgers), wide receiver Justin Brown (Oklahoma), kicker Anthony Fera (Texas), and Nowicki (Illinois).