Apparently snapping a nine-game losing streak to Michigan hasn't been enough for the Penn State football team, which is now trying to beat up the Wolverines on the recruiting field as well.
Anthony Fera, one of the most highly ranked high school place-kickers in the country, switched his verbal commitment from Michigan to the Nittany Lions on Wednesday, bringing Penn State's recruit count for 2009 to 19.
Fera, who attends St. Pius X High School in Houston, is not your typical kicker. He is a Sebastian Janikowski-like 6-foot-2, 230 pounds, reportedly bench presses 300 pounds and also plays linebacker.
Fera committed to Michigan on Aug. 18. Speculation arose that he might be having a change of heart, though, when he made an unofficial visit to Penn State for the Lions' game with Illinois. Before committing to Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State were reputed to be his favorites.
Ranked the No. 2 kicker in the country by both major scouting services, Fera booted a 58-yard field goal as a freshman and is considered very strong on kickoffs. He could be a factor as early as next year, because Kevin Kelly, who became the Big Ten's all-time point-leader for kickers in the Lions' 46-17 win over Michigan at Beaver Stadium on Saturday, graduates after this year.
Kelly is the only Lion place-kicker on scholarship, although Collin Wagner and David Soldner are also on the roster.
Fera is not the only former or current Michigan recruit in this class with whom Penn State is involved. Quarterback Kevin Newsome, who withdrew a pledge to the Wolverines, is believed to have Penn State in his top three and was at Beaver Stadium for Saturday's game for an unofficial visit with his family. Minnesota wide receiver Bryce McNeal is expected to visit Penn State on the encouragement of Newsome after he, too, decommitted from Michigan.
There have also been rumors that New Jersey five-star lineman Anthony LaLota is reconsidering his commitment to Michigan.
Earlier this year, there was believed to be some ill feelings when Michigan continued to recruit and eventually signed Ohio running back Michael Shaw after he had committed to Penn State. Big Ten coaching staffs have been reputed to operate on a ''gentleman's agreement'' not to try to pluck recruits from each other after they have given non-binding verbal pledges.