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Penn State DE target Jacolbe Cowan updates search for college fit
It’s been nearly a month since premier defensive line prospect Jacolbe Cowan embarked on an expansive road trip that featured several campus stops. The Providence Day School (Charlotte, N.C.) sophomore spent time at five schools — Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State and Tennessee — during a four-day span in late March.
Cowan, considered the No. 3 strongside defensive end and No. 37 overall recruit in 247Sports 2020 rankings, claims nearly 30 scholarship offers midway through his prep career. The whirlwind travel itinerary provided an opportunity to further explore options as he attempts to whittle a widespread process down to legitimate contenders.
Essentially, Cowan engaged in some early reconnaissance that should help him navigate through what comes next in this recruitment.
“Really the biggest takeaways from the trip were seeing each campus and spending time with the coaching staffs, seeing what each school does differently as far as defensive schemes and coaching styles,” he told Land of 10.
Since his March 25 stay in State College didn’t coincide with any major program event or game, it allowed Cowan to engage with staff members in a more intimate setting.
“The main highlight of my Penn State visit was getting a chance to sit down with [defensive line coach Sean] Spencer and [special teams coordinator Phil] Galiano and watch film and talk football and family,” he said.
Cowan secured a Nittany Lions offer last June. He went on to deliver a dominant sophomore campaign, collecting 87 tackles — 23 for loss — 12 sacks and 10 quarterback hurries, according to MaxPreps.
Watch his 2017 highlights here:
“Right now, every school is specifically recruiting me to play defensive end and the 5-technique,” Cowan said. “Most schools see me playing outside of the tackle and in front of the tight end.”
An established menace off the edge, he still has two more years of physical and fundamental growth to undergo before arriving at the university of his choice. Cowan is viewed among the true “complete package” prospects in his class, so expect Penn State to push hard for long-term contention and future campus visits.
“As a football player, I think my size, speed, physical style of play and athleticism stands out to coaches the most,” he said. “I think as a person, my maturity and the way that I carry myself on and off of the field stands out. I hear a lot from coaches that my physicality and football IQ impresses them.”
Cowan plans to trim his schools down to a group of favorites before making a final decision. He hasn’t yet formulated a commitment timeline. Along with No. 1 overall prospect Bryan Bresee — who visits Happy Valley on Friday — Cowan looks like a priority for Penn State along the defensive front in 2020 recruiting efforts.
— Jacolbe C 1️⃣2️⃣ (@JacolbeCowan12) March 29, 2018
Will Ohio State’s possible second RB commitment impact Devyn Ford?
If you’re looking at recruiting developments through a lens that focuses on Penn State, then Steele Chambers’ commitment to Ohio State on Wednesday night probably caught your attention. The Buckeyes have been on a roll lately, landing three verbal pledges since April 13.
A Friday commitment from New Jersey athlete Ronnie Hickman overlapped with Nittany Lions efforts considering he is a mutual target and a teammate of Penn State quarterback commit Taquan Roberson. The Chambers impact isn’t quite as direct but it certainly could create a ripple effect.
While it’s not definite what position Chambers will play in Columbus, Land of 10’s Ryan Donnelly wrote Wednesday night he “seems significantly more likely to play running back [than linebacker] in Ohio State’s scheme.”
If this is indeed the case, coach Urban Meyer now carries two commitments at the position. The Buckeyes landed top-10 running back recruit Sampson James in March, so the topic here shifts to Devyn Ford.
Ford, another top-10 prospect at the position, traveled to Ohio State earlier in April and is slated to use an official visit at the school next weekend. A North Stafford (Va.) High School teammate and close friend of 2018 Penn State signee Nana Asiedu, Ford is scheduled for an official visit in State College for Blue-White weekend.
Virginia Tech is the other contender here and, by all accounts, the Hokies made a strong impression during Ford’s official visit to Blacksburg, Va., last weekend. With a May 18 commitment announcement approaching, each visit and team maneuver could impact the outcome here.
“The major question coming out of Chambers’ commitment is how this impacts the Buckeyes’ recruiting efforts at running back moving forward,” Donnelly wrote. “If Chambers is indeed a running back, which seems the likeliest outcome, it dampens the odds that highly ranked prospects such as Devyn Ford or Noah Cain will end up with the Buckeyes.”
Cain, yet another top-10 running back recruit, plans to visit Penn State next weekend. He has spoken highly of Ohio State, so the Buckeyes can certainly expect to field questions about what the plan is for Chambers.
Based on a Thursday report from Rivals’ Adam Friedman, this has the makings of a game-changing moment in Ford’s search for the right collegiate fit.
“Ford doesn’t mind that Chambers is now a part of Ohio State’s 2019 class but he is surprised that the Ohio State coaches didn’t let him know they were taking a commitment from Chambers (listed as an athlete but he has made it well-known he prefers to play running back in college),” Friedman wrote. “Ohio State let Ford know prior to Sampson James’ commitment and that actually helped build trust between Ohio State and Ford. Ford’s camp is now questioning whether or not they can trust Ohio State and that plays right into the hands of Virginia Tech and Penn State.”
Land of 10 plans to speak with Ford following his Happy Valley visit, so expect an update regarding his recruitment early next week.
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