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Trio of defensive prospects place Penn State among top choices
The Nittany Lions are looking stronger with certain recruitments as spring nears its conclusion. Last week, we focused on four 4-star defensive linemen who listed Penn State among top college options — Keondre Coburn, Tyler Friday, Aeneas Hawkins and Trevor Trout.
These final days of May have also been fortuitous for coach James Franklin and his staff.
Three coveted 2018 defensive recruits, each from a different state, shared updates that put Penn State solidly in the picture for a pledge. Let’s start with top-rated and most proximal prospect of this bunch — Aliquippa (Pa.) DB Kwantel Raines.
— Telly Mac🎱™ (@KwantelRaines) May 30, 2017
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Raines put his process into greater focus five weeks after visiting Happy Valley for the April 22 spring game.
While Maryland also made the cut, the Nittany Lions are notably the only Big Ten power on Raines’ list. Penn State and Maryland are joined by Cal, Florida, Kentucky, LSU, Pittsburgh, South Carolina, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.
Raines is considered the No. 5 rising senior prospect in Pennsylvania and the No. 13 safety recruit in 247Sports’ 2018 composite rankings.
Multiple trips to State College this spring enabled the Nittany Lions to gain an edge in familiarity. The strongest competition for his commitment could come from nearby Pitt, which frequently welcomes him to campus.
Raines is a priority Penn State target at safety, along with Philadelphia standout Isheem Young.
“They’re telling me I could come in and play early with them,” Raines told Brian Dohn of Scout.com earlier this month. “I think of big-time football, a coaching staff that I get along with well, players and recruits that I already know, and I know I would play alongside of them really well.”
Raines provides a formidable physical presence in the secondary. Continued progression should make him a capable run defender who can do damage while lined up in the box.
California LB Jack Lamb also listed Penn State as a favorite possibility in his Monday night announcement. This collection of schools was a more selective, as it featured just five programs.
— jack lamb (@JackLamb_) May 29, 2017
This time, Penn State is the only Big Ten university under consideration, competing with Notre Dame, Oregon, UCLA and Washington. Family legacy figures to play a role in the Nittany Lions’ efforts to pry Lamb away from the West Coast.
His parents attended Penn State, and he received an offer April 7 after traveling to Happy Valley. The atmosphere stood out to Lamb, who expressed that sentiment during a conversation with Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports.
“I was really impressed with the entire coaching staff and how they present themselves in a way that felt real,” he told Wiltfong. “Often times recruiting can feel fake and that the interest isn’t mutual but I was really happy with what I saw.”
Lamb, a 6-4, 220-pound prospect from Temecula Great Oak High, is listed No. 8 among inside linebackers in 2018 composite rankings. Penn State missed on fellow 4-star LB Dallas Gant in May, and continues to search for another pledge at the position.
Franklin currently carries three in-state linebacker commits — Charlie Katshir, Jesse Luketa and Nick Tarburton. Ohio native Brian Asamoah has also emerged as a compelling target for the Nittany Lions.
Lamb established career-best production across the board as a junior, according to 247Sports. He secured 117 tackles — 18 for loss — and 4 sacks.
Penn State is presently favored in the 247Sports crystal ball, claiming 75 percent of experts’ predictions.
The outlook is even rosier when it comes to New Jersey DE Jayson Oweh, who is a unanimous pick to land at Penn State in his 247Sports crystal ball. As we’ve reported since his recruitment began to escalate this spring, the Nittany Lions should be hard to beat in this pursuit.
Just one day after his May 20 visit to Happy Valley, Oweh identified Penn State as a primary option during a discussion with Land of 10.
“Penn State has always been up there,” he said. “Right now they’re like top two. The second would probably be Ohio State, Notre Dame or Wisconsin.”
All four teams mentioned landed on the top-10 list Oweh revealed Sunday. They are joined by Georgia Tech, Harvard, North Carolina, Rutgers, Vanderbilt and Virginia Tech.
— Clout J (@JaysonOweh) May 28, 2017
Among this group, there is a consensus that Oweh’s collegiate future resides at defensive end. The one exception is Wisconsin, which initially offered him as a tight end.
The 6-5, 236-pound athlete transitioned from the basketball court as a junior, playing his first season of football since elementary school. He recorded 42 tackles and 7 sacks in his debut varsity campaign at Blair Academy.
Oweh received his first offer from nearby Rutgers in late January, and now boasts a list that features 22 schools. He told Land of 10 the goal is to commit before December, ultimately utilizing the new early signing period (Dec. 20-22) to finalize his decision.
Considered the No. 19 strongside defensive end in 2018 composite rankings, Oweh recently received a substantial bump from 247Sports. The site elevated him to 4-star status and top-10 stature among strongside defensive ends in its solo rankings.
Despite his inexperience on the field, he continues to showcase raw athleticism and burgeoning technique on the camp circuit. Oweh earned lineman MVP honors May 21 at the Under Armour All-America camp series’ New Jersey regional.
— Tyler Donohue (@TDsTake) May 22, 2017
Notre Dame, Ohio State and Wisconsin are each in line for upcoming visits. He told Land of 10 a trip to South Bend, Ind., is set for the “Irish Invasion” event in June.
Penn State coaches and commits have clearly identified him as a main target. He spent much of his recent visit alongside Tarburton and also connected with 4-star Owing Mills (Md.) DT PJ Mustipher during that experience.
Oweh speaks very highly of Franklin and Penn State defensive line coach Sean Spencer. He is confident in his ability to pursue an engineering degree at State College, a crucial element for any contender in this recruitment.