Stay updated as Penn State rises toward the top of recruiting rankings! Don’t miss any of the coverage from Tyler Donohue, who brings a decade of experience as a national CFB 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.
Multiple SEC schools intensify efforts to flip 5-star QB Justin Fields
The dynamics of Justin Fields’ recruitment have drastically changed since the 5-star quarterback committed to Penn State on Dec. 1. The 6-foot-3, 221-pound prospect continues to see his offer list swell, and other coaching staffs are investing in this process.
Fields, a 5-star recruit considered the No. 1 dual-threat talent in 247Sports’ 2018 composite rankings, now claims more than 40 offers. He’s remained firm with a verbal pledge to the Nittany Lions along the way, visiting Happy Valley in April for the program’s spring game.
“I don’t see anything changing, to be honest with you,” Fields told Chris Kirschner of SEC Country in late March. “In reality, you never know what can happen. Coach (James) Franklin could leave. Coach (Joe) Moorhead [Penn State offensive coordinator] could leave. I don’t think that’s going to happen. I’ve talked to them both about that.”
A strong rapport exists between Fields and the Penn State staff, but they aren’t the only coaches creating conversation.
Staff members from Alabama, Florida and LSU each are making appearances at Fields’ Harrison High in Kennesaw, Ga., this week, according to reports from SEC Country and 247Sports.
Let’s start with Florida, since the Gators are trending in Fields’ 247Sports Crystal Ball with four consecutive predictions since April 12.
Gators offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier has placed “all of his focus” on the 2018 quarterback board toward Fields and 4-star Ohio State commit Emory Jones, according to Zach Abolverdi of SEC Country.
Florida, along with multiple SEC teams, missed a target last week when fellow Georgia QB Jarren Williams re-committed to Kentucky. Abolverdi reports Fields remains the No. 1 priority at the position in Gainesville, a view dating back to his February offer.
The Gators returned to Harrison High on Tuesday, according to Blake Alderman of 247Sports. Nussmeier and another assistant observed him operate the offense.
“They stayed for the whole practice,” Fields told Alderman. “We ran through some practice and drills and stuff. We did a little 7-on-7 and they watched that. Some of the coaches were filming me out there.”
— Justin Fields (@justnfields) March 30, 2017
LSU, searching for a 2018 quarterback commit after signing Elite 11 finalists Myles Brennan and Lowell Narcisse in the 2017 cycle, also visited Tuesday. Tigers offensive coordinator Matt Canada journeyed to the Peach State and further asserted his staff’s interest in Fields, according to Sam Spiegelman of SEC Country.
Canada could fill that quarterback slot before June. The Tigers are considered a finalist for 4-star Louisiana QB Justin Rogers, who will announce college plans May 31.
Alabama entered this equation Feb. 1 when it added to Fields’ offer pile. The Crimson Tide bring back true freshman starter Jalen Hurts and added 2016 Elite 11 MVP Tua Tagovailoa to the roster this past winter, but Nick Saban is always in “reload” mode on the recruiting trail.
This mindset will lead his staff to Harrison High on Friday, according to Hank South of 247Sports. Members of the Alabama staff are expected to attend Fields’ spring game, as he wraps up junior year on the football field.
Our coverage team will also be on the turf for that game, so expect an update regarding his latest encounters and evolving recruitment next week. Based on the inquiries about Fields we received for our weekly mailbag last Friday, this is a situation Nittany Lions fans are monitoring closely.
Fields is preparing to compete in the Elite 11 finals June 2-4 in Los Angeles. He completed 67 percent of passes for 2,770 yards and 23 touchdowns in 2016, per MaxPreps, adding 1,176 yards and 15 scores as a rusher.
Penn State target Jayson Oweh returning to campus as recruitment heats up
Last week, we profiled on-the-rise recruit Jayson Oweh, who picked up a Penn State offer in April. The 3-star defensive end/tight end from Blairstown, N.J., spent time alongside family members in Happy Valley earlier this spring, and he intends to return Saturday.
The Nittany Lions are expected to host multiple prospects of interest this weekend — check out our Friday notebook for the latest — and Oweh is rapidly emerging as a target to know. A newcomer to football last fall, this 6-5, 236-pound prospect didn’t need many reps to warrant FBS attention.
Nearby Rutgers presented Oweh’s first offer Jan. 29, and his stock has soared since. He now holds 22 offers, adding Notre Dame and Ohio State to the collection this week.
“A lot of people told me I was going to blow up, but I didn’t think it was going to happen all at once like this,” Oweh said.
Penn State made a great impression during his first trip. He specifically pointed to Franklin’s candid attitude as an attractive part of the program.
“I loved spending time with Coach Franklin,” Oweh said. “He’s down to earth and keeps it real with you. Some coaches will only tell you what they think you want to hear.”
— Clout J (@JaysonOweh) March 25, 2017
The two already shared a conversation about Oweh’s ambitions to pursue an engineering degree. Nittany Lions defensive line coach Sean Spencer also provided him with a peek at what Penn State expects from its defensive ends.
Oweh collected 42 tackles — 5 for loss — and 7 sacks during his debut varsity season, according to 247Sports. He also draws interest at tight end, where he competed April 30 at The Opening’s New Jersey regional camp.
“I can see Jayson becoming a dominant defensive end if he ends up going that way in college, but there’s definitely major potential for him on offense,” said Ronny Torres, The Opening’s director of player personnel for tight ends and receivers.
Oweh told Land of 10 his father will join him Saturday in State College. It’s a pivotal opportunity for Penn State to move one step closer toward a commitment with a prospect suddenly pursued by several college football heavyweights.