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Jayson no more: PSU first-round pick Oweh to go by first name in NFL with Ravens

His birth name is Odafe Jayson Oweh, and he says people had such a tough time saying his first name that he decided to just go by Jayson to make it easier.

Now that the Penn State product is in the NFL — going to the Baltimore Ravens with the No. 31 pick of the first round — Oweh will be making the change and wants to be called by his first name: Odafe, prononounced O-dah-FAY.

(For some trivia: Many people obviously remember that Derek Wake went by that name at Penn State, then by Cameron Wake during his standout NFL career. Wake’s situation was the opposite of Oweh’s, though, as Wake played under his first name in college and his middle name in the NFL. His full name is Derek Cameron Wake.)

Odafe Oweh, of Nigerian descent, was projected by many to go in the first round of the draft, but it would be close. And it was close, as he went with the next-to-last pick Thursday night.

As you can see in the video below, Oweh and his family were pumped and dancing after hearing the news.

No one questioned Oweh’s physical ability — the 6-foot-5, 257-pounder has put up freakish numbers such as a 4.36 40-yard dash — but he did not have any sacks last season for Penn State as a defensive end. That caused some people to question his readiness for the NFL.

The Ravens, a perennial defensive power, selected Oweh and are listing him as an outside linebacker.

“That’s something we talked about, but we also watched the tape,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh told Baltimore reporters, per the Baltimore Sun, when asked about having no sacks. “Then you look at his athletic ability, and just for that very fact, we feel like he’s a great fit in our defense. He’s an aggressive player. He runs to the ball very fast. He’s in the backfield constantly. He’s knocking people back into the backfield. He’s beating tackles into the backfield. He runs things down from behind. I think he’s a perfect fit for our defense.”

“I still have so much in the tank, so much untapped potential that, me, I don’t even know, and the people that drafted me don’t even know yet,” Oweh told Baltimore reporters. “I feel like I can be the most dominant defensive end, the most dominant player – defensive player – in this fraft, just off of me learning how to get better, learning the scheme better and just getting more experience as a player.”

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James Franklin was the draft Thursday night to support Penn State’s two first-round picks, Oweh and Micah Parsons (No. 12 to the Cowboys).

“We are excited for Jayson to hear his name called in the first round by the Baltimore Ravens,” Franklin said in a team statement. “Aside from his freakish athletic ability, first and foremost, Jayson is a great person who comes from a great family. He has tremendous upside and could play in multiple defensive schemes. Jayson will learn and grow quickly into a very productive player for the Ravens. We have really enjoyed watching Jayson develop as a player, leader, and man since he joined our program three years ago. He and Shaka Toney are the first Penn State defensive end duo to receive All-Big Ten first-team honors since 1998. We could not be more proud of Jayson and it has been a joy to watch him fulfill his NFL dreams. We are confident his best football is in front of him.”

“I’m so excited for Jayson to have this opportunity,” PSU defensive line coach John Scott Jr. said. “To watch Jayson grow over the last seven or eight months that we were able to be with him and coach him has been a great thing to see. I think the Baltimore Ravens are getting a player that has a lot of upward trajectory. He’s a young guy with elite qualities. He’s a tough, physical guy that has really good hands and feet. He is an elite pass rusher, he knows how to work an edge and he is very physical in the run game versus tackles and tight ends. I think he will be a dominant player at the next level and he will be a player that a lot of teams wish they would have drafted.”

Oweh will join former PSU quarterback Trace McSorley with the Ravens.

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Cory Giger is a 15-year veteran of the Penn State beat and a journalist with 28 years of experience. He has won more than 100 state and national journalism awards during his career, plus he's a voter for the Heisman Trophy in football and Wooden Award in basketball.

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