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Jayson Oweh Is Just Getting Started For Penn State Football

It was no secret heading into the 2019 season that Jayson Oweh was going to play a big role on Penn State’s defensive line.

The redshirt freshman defensive end’s athletic prowess was well-known by all of his teammates and coaches once he arrived in Happy Valley, including James Franklin.

“There’s been a buzz about Jayson since he arrived on campus,” Franklin said. “He is very athletic, he’s getting better all the time, and I think his ceiling is really high. He hasn’t played a whole lot of football so his opportunity for growth is really dramatic.”

Although Oweh only played four games during his freshman season to preserve his redshirt status — and hadn’t even started playing football until about midway through high school — he received plenty of positive attention when he ran a 40-yard dash of 4.33 seconds and had a 36.5 vertical jump.

Defensive line coach Sean Spencer was quoted saying that the 6’5″, 265-pounder is going to be “unstoppable.” Oweh was also ranked No. 6 on Bruce Feldman’s college football freaks list over the summer, just one spot ahead of teammate Micah Parsons.

Most recently, Oweh had an impressive performance against Michigan State. The speedy defensive end sacked Spartan quarterback Brian Lewerke twice — the only two sacks the Wild Dogs recorded on the day — and forced fumbles on both occasions. Oweh’s second strip-sack resulted in a turnover that was recovered by linebacker Ellis Brooks.

The redshirt freshman already has four sacks on the year along with ten total tackles. Although Oweh’s combination of speed and size allows him to get to the quarterback often, Franklin hasn’t seen him rely solely on his athleticism on the defensive line.

“Early in his career, like a lot of guys, he was probably a pass rush specialist,” Franklin said. “But he’s growing into a more every-down defensive end as the season goes on. Obviously he’s big, strong, physical, and he’s got a chance to be everything you want. But him and Coach Spencer have worked really hard.”

It’s important to consider just how young Oweh is and just how high of a ceiling he has. He’s only played 12 games in college but has already totaled six sacks in his career. Three of those six have come against Big Ten offensive lines.

Not only does Oweh have plenty of time to grow, but he also has the chance to develop behind some other talented defensive players. The Wild Dogs are undoubtedly one of the best position groups on the team, as the unit boasts talents such as Yetur Gross-Matos, Shaka Toney, Robert Windsor, and several others.

The group is so talented that Oweh’s impressive four-sack stat line on the year puts him at third on the defensive line for sacks behind Gross-Matos and Toney, who are tied for first with 5.5 apiece. Windsor and Ellis Brooks are close behind Oweh with 2.5 of their own.

Franklin has been pleased with Oweh’s development thus far under the tutelage of Coach Spencer and the older Wild Dogs.

“He’s probably further ahead of schedule than we anticipated,” Franklin said. “I thought all of the excitement and buzz that he got this summer based on measurables was good, but at the end of the day, it’s about what you do on the field. You have to be able to translate everything, and he’s shown that he’s been able to do that.”

At just 20 years old, Oweh has a clear opportunity to continue the recent tradition of talented defensive lineman at Penn State. For now, though, he stands as a valuable weapon in a deep position group for the Nittany Lions.

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About the Author

Will Pegler

Will is a senior majoring in digital and print journalism and is an associate editor for Onward State. He is from Darien, Connecticut and is a lifelong Penn State football fan. He loves a good 80's comedy movie, Peaky Blinders, The Office, and the New York Yankees and Giants. You can catch some of his ridiculous sports takes on his Twitter @gritdude and yell at him on his email [email protected]

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