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.
2019 RB Jordan Houston enjoys ‘best PSU visit yet’
The relationship between Penn State and running back Jordan Houston is pretty personal. His mother, Karen, graduated from the university. So did his uncle, Steve, who still owns Nittany Lions season tickets.
He grew up attending occasional games at Beaver Stadium, combining football and family. James Franklin became the first college coach to extend a scholarship offer in his direction last July, months before the start of his sophomore season.
Despite that background, his latest trip to State College likely topped all the rest. Houston returned to campus Friday for a camp, then remained in town Saturday for the Lasch Bash event.
“I absolutely loved it,” he told Land of 10. “That was the best PSU visit yet probably. They are all great. But this one was special because all of the commits and the kids who have an offer from PSU got up on stage and introduced themselves.”
Houston, who added offers from Boston College, Old Dominion and Tennessee in June, specifically cited prospect camaraderie as a Lasch Bash highlight.
“I had a great time meeting more of the commits like [linebacker] Jesse Luketa and [quarterback] Will Levis,” he said. “It really made me feel like family and I am 100-percent sure that if any student-athlete goes to PSU they will be set for life because it really is one big family. Once you join you’re in it forever.”
The 5-foot-10, 180-pound prospect participated in testing prior to a Friday night camp session. Houston logged a 4.45-second 40-yard dash, which he referred to as “not my best.”
That’s an impressive mindset considering he is coming off a fractured left fibula suffered in the 2016 season opener. The recovery process has made Houston mentally and physically tougher, as he’s prepared to take the field approximately two inches taller and 20 pounds heavier than his breakout freshman campaign.
“Whatever he sets his mind to accomplish, Jordan will do it,” said DeJuan Ellis Sr., a sports performance trainer who started working with Houston before high school. “That’s just how he is — incredible work ethic and focus. No one is going to set a limit for Jordan. If someone tells him he’ll only rush for 2,000 yards this season, Jordan will go run for 2,010 yards.”
Houston rushed for 1,846 yards and 19 touchdowns in 10 games as a freshman. Now back to full health, another productive fall could lead to a substantial amount of new offers.
Regardless of which schools enter this equation, Penn State could be tough to top. Houston’s effort Friday continued to confirm the staff confidence in his potential.
“Both [running backs coach Charles] Huff and Franklin said I performed really well,” he said.
Houston is excited about the future of Penn State football but explained there’s more to appreciate about the program than what happens on Saturdays in autumn.
“Alumni can help you out after you graduate,” he said. “It’s just good to know that I wouldn’t have to go to the NFL in order to succeed in life.”
Houston attended the Lasch Bash with his uncle and, according to Karen Houston, they followed the visit with a trip to Northwestern. His cousin competes on the women’s lacrosse team, and Karen added that Wildcats football coaches want to meet with him.
Expect Houston back in Happy Valley this season. He plans to attend a game, though it remains to be seen which will fit into his schedule.
4-star DE Jayson Oweh will visit other contenders
New Jersey defensive end Jayson Oweh provided the latest glimpse of his rapid progression Friday night, competing in drills under the direction of Penn State assistant Sean Spencer. With just one year of high school football experience under his belt, the 6-5, 236-pound lineman is searching for a staff ready and willing to groom him.
“It was great,” Oweh told Land of 10. “Love his coaching style.”
Like Houston, he stayed on campus Saturday for the Lasch Bash. Penn State added five commitments to the 2018 recruiting class during the weekend but there is still plenty of unfinished business for Franklin.
That includes Oweh, who has now traveled to Happy Valley three times since March. Considered the No. 7 strongside defensive end and a top-200 overall recruit in 247Sports composite rankings, he is focused on three teams from a collection of more than 20 offers.
Notre Dame and Ohio State are the competition for Penn State, and Oweh plans to visit both universities for a second time this week. He will be in South Bend on Thursday before heading to Columbus on Friday, according to my colleague Jeremy Birmingham.
“Penn State really showed me a lot that’s there — all the way down to the people in the community,” Oweh told Birmingham. “If Ohio State and Notre Dame do that, too, obviously it will be difficult to decide [between them].”
Though he initially expressed plans to announce a collegiate commitment in late fall, Oweh now appears primed to possibly pick that destination before his senior season. An opportunity to spend time on the campus of each finalist during a one-week span should help provide him with increased clarity.
Oweh, who continues to gain fundamental structure on the football field, showed off his raw athleticism Friday during testing. He registered a 4.46 40-yard dash, 4.29 agility shuttle and a broad jump of 10-3.
— Tyler Donohue (@TDsTake) July 15, 2017