Penn State recruiting: Decision day for Jayson Oweh, Tyreke Smith; future Lions in All-America Game
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Penn State targets Jayson Oweh and Tyreke Smith ready to reveal decisions
It’s decision day for a pair of America’s premier defensive prospects. Jayson Oweh and Tyreke Smith, both long-term members of the 2018 Penn State target board, are prepared to announce their respective college choices Thursday night during the Under Armour All-America Game.
The Nittany Lions are listed as finalists for both blue-chip recruits.
Oweh, a 6-foot-5, 240-pound senior at Blair Academy (Blairstown, N.J.) is down to Ohio State and Penn State. Smith, a 6-4, 252-pound Cleveland Heights (Ohio) product has a public top five of Alabama, Ohio State, Oregon, Penn State and Southern Cal.
These announcements will occur during a national television broadcast on ESPN2. Coverage begins at 6 p.m., and we’ll learn the collegiate destinations for these prized playmakers prior to game’s end.
RELATED: 2018 Penn State recruiting big board
Smith will share his commitment after the opening coin toss, though this decision won’t surprise the school of his choice. He explained Saturday that he issued a verbal pledge to that program approximately three weeks ago. Smith maintains he did not sign with that university in December, but this reveal will effectively shut down his recruitment.
“Development, family, education were three things I focused on,” he said. “I have a 4.0 [GPA], and I take that very serious. I feel like it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing. You get this opportunity, and with the schools I have I want to put myself in the best position to get developed. So I went with the school I felt that way about.”
Smith used an official visit at Penn State last month. While I anticipate he will return to Beaver Stadium next season in an Ohio State uniform, the Nittany Lions undoubtedly helped make this a difficult decision.
“They always make me feel like family up there,” Smith said. “I feel like I’m with my second family when I go up there, so it was a great visit.”
Oweh is expected to provide the final commitment declaration of the evening. He will go public with that choice between the third and fourth quarters, providing a program with one of this class’ true high-ceiling prospects.
Still a newcomer to the sport, Oweh secured 13 sacks in fewer than five full games this season as a second-year high school football player. He used official visits to Ohio State and Penn State for home games on both campuses, though no team has hosted him more than the Nittany Lions (five trips).
This process featured compelling suitors such as Alabama, Florida, Miami, Michigan, Notre Dame, and even Harvard. But as a decision neared there was no denying the reality of a two-team race.
“It’s just little things,” he said. “When you visit [Ohio State and Penn State], they make it a priority to visit the athletic and academic directors, set up engineering meetings. A lot of schools didn’t do that. It was obviously those two.”
The addition of Oweh, which is what I anticipate, would provide Penn State with an elite tandem of 2018 edge rushers. Micah Parsons, set to begin his Nittany Lions career at linebacker but certainly capable of dominating at defensive end, signed with the program Dec. 20.
“Micah is a freak. … he’s so versatile he can play wherever he wants to,” Oweh said. “It’s good for me, too, because obviously it would give me more reps.”
Penn State enters Thursday evening with 22 high school seniors in a 2018 recruiting class listed in the top five overall in composite rankings. The Nittany Lions are in excellent shape to end the night with at least 23 anticipated newcomers.
Future Nittany Lions enter national spotlight in All-America Game
While plenty of attention will be placed on impending commitments from Oweh and Smith during the All-America Game, there will also be… you know… a game.
This matchup features dozens of the nation’s most impressive high school seniors, most of whom are already signed with Power 5 programs. Among this collection of compelling talent, Penn State is represented by four members of its 2018 recruiting class.
All four players will compete for Team Spotlight in the high-profile showdown. This includes a trio of offensive standouts: running back Ricky Slade and receivers Justin Shorter and Shaquon Anderson-Butts.
Anderson-Butts is the only Penn State commit who didn’t send in a letter of intent during the early signing period. He told Land of 10 this week that it was a matter of academic requirements and his signature will be submitted in February.
Shorter and Slade are both top-25 overall recruits in the 2018 cycle. During All-America Game media day, both players expressed intentions to earn immediate starting roles upon their arrival in Happy Valley.
“Obviously I want to come in and make an impact and try to play early,” Slade said. “Those are my goals — try to earn that starting spot. Those are the things I’ve got to work toward.”
Added Shorter: “Go in there, have my head low, work hard and practice hard — hopefully start as a freshman. … Grinding 24/7.”
PJ Mustipher can be found in the defensive trenches Thursday night. He’s warranted considerable attention for his effectiveness during All-America practice sessions. Considered a top-10 tackle in composite rankings, Oweh labeled him “unguardable” and the 6-5, 290-pound lineman figures to vie for consideration along the interior early in his Penn State career.
This experience provides these future Penn State players a chance to prove the hype is real in front of a large television audience. Stay tuned to Land of 10 for coverage of the All-America Game and reaction afterward.
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