DALLAS _ If any Penn State player relocates to a school in Texas to continue his college football career, Baylor looms as a likely destination.
Bears coach Art Briles confirmed Tuesday that the school has been approached by at least one player from the Nittany Lions’ roster in the wake of Monday’s announcement that Penn State players can transfer with immediate eligibility in the wake of NCAA sanctions related to the Jerry Sandusky child abuse case.
“If people reach out to us, that says they’re willing to move on. If they do that, then we’re willing to talk,” said Briles, whose staff includes three assistant coaches with Penn State connections (Brian Norwood, Chris Achuff, Cal Lowry). “If a guy can play, we’re going to look at him without question.”
Baylor added defensive end Shawn Oakman, a transfer from Penn State, to its roster on July 2. Former Bears’ defensive tackle Phil Taylor, a first-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, also transferred from Penn State to Baylor to finish his college career.
Among coaches who took part in Tuesday’s session of the Big 12 media days, all indicated interest in talking to Penn State players who reached out to them. But only Briles, who cited a Baylor staff that is “heavily connected to Penn State,” indicated Tuesday that his school has been approached by a potential transfer.
Under NCAA recruiting rules, coaches cannot mention players’ names. Penn State’s 2012 roster includes three players who played high school football in Texas: kicker/punter Anthony Fera, center Frank Figueroa and offensive tackle Kevin Blanchard.
Asked about the possibility of adding a player from Penn State, Texas coach Mack Brown said: “You’d have to look at whether the player contacted you, if you had legitimate interest in him and if he fit.”
Fera, an All-Big Ten performer last season, could fill a need position on Texas’ roster.
Kansas coach Charlie Weis, who plans to start Notre Dame transfer Dayne Crist at quarterback, said he would have interest in Penn State players.
“When the dust settles, I think there will be several players that entertain the thought of going somewhere else,” Weis said. “So I think that any program that didn’t do homework prior to this decision coming out … was behind on that one.”
Briles said he was unsure if Oakman, who signed July 2 with Baylor, would be granted immediate eligibility for the 2012 season with other transfers from Penn State. A redshirt freshman last season, Oakman (6-foot-9, 265 pounds) has four years of eligibility remaining and played high school football in Landsdowne, Pa.
“It’s not critical that he’s able to go this year,” Briles said. “But it would certainly help.”
Among Big 12 schools, West Virginia’s campus sits in closest proximity to Penn State. Asked about the possibility of adding a Penn State transfer, West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said: “I think you’ve just got to look at it and see what your needs are. It can be beneficial if you identify what your needs are.”
_ Jimmy Burch