Stay updated as Penn State rises toward the top of the recruiting rankings! Don’t miss the coverage from Tyler Donohue, who brings a decade of experience as a national college football reporter and recruiting department staff member with a Big Ten program. Read his daily notebooks here at 7:20 p.m. ET Monday through Friday and follow us on Twitter for the latest Nittany Lions recruiting news.
‘Doubts’ led 5-star QB Justin Fields to reopen recruitment
It’s only fitting that our Friday notebook begins with college football’s biggest recruiting storyline of the week. By now, Nittany Lions fans are aware that 5-star QB Justin Fields announced his de-commitment Tuesday night.
The decision ended a six-month pledge, sending both Fields and Penn State back to the drawing board in search of a fit.
“My decision to reopen my recruitment is in no way a reflection of any deficiencies of PSU, its coaches, players or fans,” Fields wrote on Twitter. “I still believe that PSU is a great academic and athletic opportunity for any student-athlete, and it will remain one of the top schools that I would consider.”
The Nittany Lions aren’t out of this equation, but as we addressed in our Friday recruiting mailbag, reunions rarely occur on the recruiting trail.
So what was the motivation for this move?
According to our colleague Jeff Sentell of DawgNation, it was a result of self-assessment.
“I had doubts about whether I made the right decision, and I think opening up my recruitment publicly and taking a fresh look at my options will remove any doubts,” Fields told Sentell.
This essentially echoes what Fields’ father, Ivant, said May 19 following the Harrison (Kennesaw, Ga.) High School spring game. It’s also probably what Penn State fans feared the most in this highly publicized recruiting process.
“I think when you’re a young man, and you have your whole life, a lot of times you just second-guess whether this is the right decision and things of that nature,” Ivant Fields said. “We’re letting him work that out within himself. It’s part of being a man — evolving. He’s a young man on the brink of being a man, so he has to figure that out.”
Between baseball season — Fields is a standout on the diamond — and upcoming football camps such as the Rivals 5-Star Challenge, The Opening and 7-on-7 events, the next step here may take some time.
Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia and LSU are suitors of notable interest.
“I’ll sit down with my parents and discuss it,” he told Sentell.
2019 recruit with NFL legacy ready for first visit to Happy Valley
Another interesting weekend is on tap in State College, where James Franklin will welcome several high school prospects. He and the Nittany Lions staff are preparing to host their second “Elite Camp” of the month Sunday.
Penn State hosted an event last Saturday, ultimately extending scholarship offers to a pair of underclassmen who attended. Those went to 2019 Iowa quarterback Max Duggan, who told Land of 10 he sees a fit in offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead’s system, and 2020 New Jersey RB Jalen Berger.
Anticipated guests this weekend include compelling 2019 New Jersey DE RJ Oben. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound prospect told Land of 10 he “100 percent” plans to attend the camp and will arrive early for a better look at Happy Valley.
Oben, the son of former NFL OT Roman Oben, plans to reach campus Saturday for an unofficial visit. This is his first visit to Penn State, and he will be joined by St. Peter’s Prep (Jersey City, N.J.) teammate Anthony Summey, a 2019 running back.
It’s been a busy spring for Oben, who said he is “really looking forward” to checking out State College. Nearby Rutgers offered him on Wednesday, following recent offers from Virginia, Temple and Syracuse.
His father’s alma mater, Louisville, was the first university to enter this recruitment.
Roman Oben, who won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is a Louisville Athletic Hall of Fame inductee. His son has displayed excellent athleticism on the camp circuit, and continued development from a physical and fundamental standpoint could make him a blue-chip candidate as 2019 prospect rankings progress.
Penn State has enjoyed success targeting players in the Garden State, and Oben could potentially earn an offer on Sunday with a strong performance. Expect him to be an underclassman of particular interest as the staff monitors drills.
Penn State DE target Jayson Oweh visiting Notre Dame, Ohio State
We’ve written at length about fast-rising New Jersey recruit Jayson Oweh, who spent five years away from the football field before putting on pads last autumn. The 6-5, 236-pound prospect, now considered a 4-star talent and top-10 strongside defensive end in 247Sports’ solo 2018 rankings, picked up a Penn State offer in April.
His first college opportunity arrived from Rutgers in late January, and more than 20 other programs have since offered. Among Oweh’s most recent offers, Notre Dame and Ohio State stand out.
He made his first trip to Columbus, Ohio, on Friday, according to Land of 10 colleague Jeremy Birmingham. Things have developed quickly between Oweh and the Buckeyes since a May 16 offer.
“I spoke to Urban Meyer on the phone last week. He was way nicer than I thought he’d be,” he told Birmingham. “It was surreal to have someone that I would see on TV on a constant basis, and in the national championship, speak to me on the phone. It’s crazy.”
Meyer excels in face-to-face opportunities, as does Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson, so this experience could impact Oweh’s recruiting outlook. He is also set to spend time at Notre Dame this weekend before returning to New Jersey.
— Tyler Donohue (@TDsTake) May 22, 2017
While speaking with Land of 10 on May 20 before a camp, Oweh suggested Penn State is in excellent shape. However, he hinted other teams were also gaining momentum.
“Penn State has always been up there,” Oweh said. “Right now they’re like top two. The second would probably be Ohio State, Notre Dame or Wisconsin.”
Among those schools, only Wisconsin envisions his future away from defense. The Badgers are targeting Oweh as a tight end.
He visited State College for a second time in May, and the Nittany Lions are expected to host him again July 16. Oweh told Land of 10 he may use up to three official visits during the season before finalizing commitment plans in advance of the new early signing period (Dec. 20-22).
When assessing the collection of Penn State competitors here, the programs hosting him this weekend appear most formidable.