ORLANDO, Fla. — The future of Penn State football was well represented Thursday night during the Under Armour All-America Game. Nittany Lions coach James Franklin knew five members of his 2018 recruiting class were competing at Camping World Stadium, but the nation didn’t find out for a few quarters.
Jayson Oweh, a top-10 defensive prospect who holds more than 30 scholarship offers, announced his intention to attend Penn State shortly before the start of fourth-quarter action. His public decision was broadcast on ESPN2.
— Jayson Oweh (@JaysonOweh) January 5, 2018
A 6-foot-5, 240-pound senior at Blair Academy (Blairstown, N.J.), Oweh actually arrived in Orlando with his collegiate fate sealed. He sent in a national letter of intent to the Nittany Lions on Dec. 22, the final day of college football’s early signing period.
“It feels so good to get all this weight off my shoulders,” Oweh told Land of 10. “I’m a Nittany Lion. It feels so good, so good.”
His choice came down to Penn State and Ohio State. Other options included Alabama, Florida, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska and Notre dame.
He is one of 22 recruits who’ve signed with Penn State in the 2018 recruiting cycle, composing a class listed 4th overall in composite rankings. Oweh expressed excitement about finally revealing his decision to future teammates Thursday during a postgame discussion.
Ran into this guy on the field and he's pretty excited, with good reason!
— Tyler Donohue (@TDsTake) January 5, 2018
Oweh, who collected 13 sacks in five games as a senior, joins an impressive collection of 2018 defensive talent headed to Happy Valley. The front seven is also set to add premier recruits such as 5-star edge rusher Micah Parsons, top-10 inside linebacker Jesse Luketa and top-10 defensive tackle PJ Mustipher.
“We’re dogs, man. We’re wild dogs,” Oweh said.
Mustipher also competed in All-America competition, tallying 1 tackle in the matchup. Oweh reveled in the idea of attacking opponents alongside the 6-5, 290 pound tackle at Penn State.
“PJ is unguardable, I’m unguardable, so I don’t know what [the offense] would do,” he said.
Neither of the receivers recorded a reception, though they were targeted on a night when Team Spotlight quarterbacks struggled (38 percent pass completion). Slade, meanwhile, overcame an early fumble to piece together a quality performance.
The 5-9, 185-pound C.D. Hylton (Woodbridge, Va.) High School standout showed off his versatility while racking up a game-high 11 touches. He carried gained 23 rushing yards on 7 carries and added 4 catches for 26 yards and a touchdown.
Slade scored on a 14-yard catch and run in the third quarter:
You'll be seeing a lot of this from Ricky Slade these next few years. pic.twitter.com/ETdizjAhSP
— Onward State (@OnwardState) January 5, 2018
The 5-star recruit and Gatorade Player of the Year in Virginia expects to compete for immediate playing time at Penn State as the Nittany Lions look to replace Saquon Barkley’s production. He accounted for more than 2,700 all-purpose yards and 40 touchdowns as a senior.
“I think I’ll be on special teams. I’ll definitely be in a receiver role, out there in the slot,” Slade said. “They’re going to try to get me the ball in a lot of different ways in the open field.”
Franklin signed a special collection of talent this recruiting cycle, and he is primed to fill final scholarship slots with more blue-chip prospects. Parsons, the highest-ranked member of the class, will compete in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Saturday afternoon, providing another national audience (NBC) with a peek into Penn State’s future.
No one encapsulated the mounting optimism better than Oweh on Thursday night.
“I’m here to stay, we’re here to win,” he said. “Big Ten championship, that’s first, and then we’re winning a national championship next. We’re coming.”