The 6-foot-5, 280-pound Nowicki plans to make the move to Illinois this weekend, he said by phone Thursday from Penn State.
"I liked the family atmosphere (Illinois) had as a team. The coaches are there for their players no matter what. All that together was a great package for me. It's a team on the rise. They're going to be a great team in the future, and I want to be a part of that."
Nowicki, who is originally from the Chicago area but played in high school at Glendale (Ariz.) Cactus, was ranked the No. 31 offensive tackle in the Class of 2011 by Rivals.com and the No. 84 tackle by Scout.com. He has four years of eligibility left after redshirting as a freshman last season and will add needed depth to the Illinois offensive line.
He also considered transferring to Washington and Arizona State.
"With everything going on, it was really rough," Nowicki said of the last few weeks. "They (his teammates) accepted it. They know what's going on, and they know this is what's the best for my future. They were supportive of it. It was hard for me because I've been with these guys the past year and had such a good relationship with them."
Nowicki is the eighth reported transfer from Penn State after the NCAA on July 23 announced sanctions, which include a four-year postseason ban. The NCAA declared that transfers should have immediate eligibility at their new schools as long as they are cleared academically, and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said university presidents within the conference agreed.
"Our presidents were clear and unanimous that they want these students to have the opportunity to go where they want to go and with no exceptions, including Big Ten exceptions," Delany said at Big Ten media day.
Among the most notable transfers are running back Silas Redd, who will move on to USC, and kicker Anthony Fera, who is reportedly moving on to Texas.
Illinois caused a stir when eight coaches traveled to State College, Pa., to meet with potential transfers. But coach Tim Beckman said the Illini functioned within NCAA rules, notifying the Penn State athletic department of the players they wished to meet, some of whom had reached out to Illinois first.