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.
4-star DT Aeneas Hawkins places Penn State in his final two
In our recruiting notebook last Thursday, focus shifted to Ohio defensive tackle Aeneas Hawkins. The 6-foot-3, 265-pound Archbishop Moeller (Cincinnati) senior indicated last week to Scott Springer of the Cincinnati Enquirer a recruitment featuring more than 30 scholarship offers boiled down to two universities: Cincinnati and Penn State.
Hawkins, the son of two former Bearcats athletes and recent visitor to Happy Valley for the July 15 Lasch Bash confirmed this sentiment Saturday. He posted a tweet pointing to a two-program battle:
And then there were two… Commitment coming very soon. Stay Tuned! pic.twitter.com/cBXq207Ap9
— Aeneas Hawkins (@AeneasHawkins) July 30, 2017
Despite an obvious edge in proximity and family ties for Cincinnati, Hawkins explained he feels familiar vibes on each campus.
“They’re both home to me,” he told Springer. “I’m going to take my time. It’s tough.”
Hawkins, considered the No. 23 defensive tackle in the 247Sports 2018 composite rankings, is a top-300 overall recruit and among the most coveted linemen in Big Ten territory. His Saturday announcement represents a significant decrease in contenders, as a May 21 top-seven list included Alabama, Kentucky, Ohio State, Pittsburgh and USC.
Penn State picked up momentum here as spring seeped into summer, spurred by a positive Lasch Bash experience. Hawkins spent the day surrounded by family, Penn State coaches and Nittany Lions commits.
“The biggest thing that stood out was the culture,” he told Greg Pickel of PennLive. “Coach [James] Franklin is a winner and he treats you like family. The Class of ’18 kids that have committed are already embracing it… It was like I needed to be reminded why I had fallen in love with PSU in the first place.”
Penn State carries a commitment from Judge Culpepper, a Florida prospect expected to play defensive tackle in State College. PJ Mustipher of Maryland is another priority target along the defensive interior.
Hawkins didn’t reveal a decision date in his latest update, but there’s a sense this recruitment could be wrapped up prior to the season.
Nittany Lions also in head-to-head showdown for 4-star OL ‘Juice’ Scruggs
Penn State also finds itself locked in another two-team commitment chase in Ohio. Fredrick Scruggs, frequently referred to as “Juice”, will determine his college fate Friday. This news comes courtesy of Bill Kurelic of 247Sports, as the Buckeyes reporter spoke with Scruggs’ mother, Karen.
“It’s between Penn State and Ohio State,” she told Kurelic. “We don’t have the time yet, but he will announce on Aug. 4. I think it will be in the afternoon.”
This one wasn’t exactly on the radar for most analysts, but they’ve reacted quickly to the development. There have been 10 straight predictions pointed toward Penn State in the 247Sports crystal ball, including one from me.
We haven’t discussed Scruggs very frequently, as his recruitment kind of faded into the background amid seven July commitments and mounting momentum with 4-star offensive tackle Rasheed Walker of Maryland.
The Nittany Lions claim three pledges along the offensive front, each of whom are listed as offensive tackles in composite rankings. Top-10 tackle Nana Aseidu of Virginia and 4-star Michigan product Antwan Reed committed hours before the April 22 spring game, while Bryce Effner of Illinois entered the mix in early May.
Scruggs, a 6-3, 270-pound Cathedral Prep (Erie, Pa.) senior is considered the top overall offensive lineman in Pennsylvania, per composite rankings. The 4-star talent holds scholarship offers from more than a dozen schools, and he is listed No. 2 nationally among centers.
If Scruggs does indeed commit to Penn State on Friday, he would give Nittany Lions coach James Franklin eight top-200 overall recruits in a 2018 class listed No. 3 in composite rankings.
Elite DE target Jayson Oweh will wait until January
Just as it appeared New Jersey defensive end Jayson Oweh was nearing the end of his recruitment, this 6-5, 236-pound playmaker is pumping the breaks. Instead of choosing between finalists Notre Dame, Ohio State and Penn State prior to his senior season, he expects to keep a choice under wraps until winter.
Oweh announced Friday evening his pledge will become public in January at the Under Armour All-America Game, held in Orlando, Fla.
My family and I have come to the decision that I’ll be committing to a school at The Under Armour All-American Game.#IWILL @DemetricDWarren
— Clout J (@JaysonOweh) July 28, 2017
Oweh, who participated in his first season of high school football at Blair Academy (Blairstown, N.J.) last fall, gives himself an extra few months to assess collegiate options, which have swelled to more than 20 schools since he received his first offer from Rutgers in January. The All-America Game annually features a few commitments, which occur within weeks of National Signing Day (Feb. 7).
The 2018 Penn State class will be well-represented at the event, as 5-star receiver Justin Shorter and 4-star RB Ricky Slade are among confirmed roster members. This shapes up as a battle between the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions, though this extended timeline could help Notre Dame make up ground.
Oweh previously told Land of 10 he wanted to use official visits to all three programs during the season, so that plan may be back in place. He traveled to both Notre Dame and Ohio State twice since June. Penn State has hosted him three times, including a July 14 camp and the Lasch Bash.
Though he repeatedly told Land of 10 the early signing period (Dec. 20-22) would be utilized here, a delay means the tradition signing day is far more likely.