Recruit officially signs with Lions
By Philip Cmor
For the last couple of weeks, Penn State football fans were sweating out the commitment announcement of All-American defensive end Jayson Oweh, and the possibility that, even after he made a decision, they might have to wait until February to see if another school like Ohio State could get him to flip.
It turns out there wasn’t anything for the Nittany Lion faithful to worry about, after all.
Not only did the 6-foot-5, 236-pound four-star defensive end from New Jersey announce for Penn State on ESPN2 in the second half of Thursday’s Under Armour All-American Game in Orlando, Fla., Oweh actually signed with the Lions during the early signing period.
He and the program just managed to keep it quiet.
“It was family, it felt like the right thing to do, and we’re winning it all next year,” Oweh said.
Penn State released the news that Oweh had signed immediately after he made his public announcement. He was one of 22 players to sign with the Lions during the early signing period.
In a beautiful job of misdirection, 247Sports 106th-ranked senior in the country and the No. 5 strongside defensive end managed to convince fans and reporters alike that he was going back and forth between Penn State and Ohio State, even going so far as denying he signed a letter-of-intent during the early period, which meant his recruitment could continue into February.
The Blair Academy standout just wanted to have his moment on the grand stage of national television.
“It feels so good getting all this weight off my shoulders,” Oweh told Tyler Donahue of Landof10.com after the game. “It was hard, because I had to keep it up with all of the coaches and everything. All the players kept it a secret. Everyone could seem to see the humor in where I was going with it. It feels really good to get it off my chest.”
While pulling off the sleight of hand with his announcement, the potential in Oweh’s game is impossible to hide. Not only does he have outstanding length and the frame to add good weight, he also has timed in the 40-yard dash in 4.63 seconds.
Notre Dame and Michigan rounded out Oweh’s final four. He also received scholarship offers from 23 other schools, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Miami, Nebraska, Pitt, Central Florida, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin.
“Oweh, a one-time basketball prospect, made the move to football and it is paying off in a big way,” wrote Scout.com national recruiting analyst Brian Dohn. “Oweh has a nice upside because of his burst, athleticism and his length at a premium position. He explodes well, which is more evident when he plays tight end because he needs to be quicker in his get-off at the snap. He can get past the right tackle and closes well. He knows how to use his length and lateral movement. Oweh must continue to get stronger and work on his technique. It is solid, particularly because he has quick hands, but proper footwork and adding moves will help greatly.”
It’s not surprising he needs to work on his technique, because he’s only been playing football for two years. As a junior, he has 42 tackles and seven sacks. In less than five full games his senior season, he got to opposing quarterbacks 13 times.
In Blair Academy’s season opener against Haverford School, Oweh recorded 11 tackles, four sacks, several hurries, blocked a punt and caught a 61-yard touchdown pass. Blair Academy coach Jim Saylor described Oweh as “a flower than hasn’t even bloomed yet” to Landof10.
“His upside is just tremendous,” Saylor said. “He’s in a program where we get 10 hours of practice per week, and he has to practice offense and defense. When he gets to a college program and has three hours each day just to focus on defensive end, it’s going to be special.”
Oweh’s signing means the Nittany Lions have two of the top-rated defensive ends in the class, although Harrisburg’s Micah Parsons, one of 2018’s top five prospects regardless of position, will get a look at linebacker first.
Along the defensive line, James Franklin and his staff also landed Ohio’s Aeneas Hawkins, Florida’s Judge Culpepper and Maryland’s P.J. Mustipher, who turned heads throughout the week of practice for the Under Armour game at defensive end.
Penn State missed out on another defensive line target when Cleveland’s Tyreke Smith announced for Ohio State just before kickoff. The Lions still are believed to be in the market for another D-lineman, with New Jersey top-100 player Tyler Friday among those on the radar.
Oweh and Mustipher played for Team Spotlight, which dropped a 23-21 decision to Team Highlight. They were joined on the Spotlight team by future Lion teammates Justin Shorter, Ricky Slade and Shaquon Anderson-Butts. Slade scored a touchdown on a screen pass.