Michigan State has attracted many bruising backs over the years. T.J. Duckett, Lorenzo White and LeVeon Bell are among the many great running backs to wear the Green and White. Gerald Owens, a special young player from South Jersey, could be next in line.
A talented running back, Owens has garnered attention for his muscular frame and stellar speed. Michigan State, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Texas and Boston College are among the high profile programs that have offered a scholarship to the junior at New Jersey’s West Deptford High School. Many college coaches marvel at how Owens runs the ball. What many don’t see is a young man with a great perspective on life and humility rarely seen in a highly touted recruit.
He recently joined Hondo S Carpenter Sr. on Spartan Nation Radio.
Owens comes from a family of seven children and two loving parents. He was raised on the philosophy that school comes first, a mindset he still holds today. “Growing up, my parents had me studying after school all the time: I did my homework as soon as I go home,” Owens explained. “It all started with my parents: they just want the best for all of us.” A hard worker in school, Owens realizes the importance of a good education. He has done well in school and hopes to continue his success in college. In considering which college to attend, academics figure heavily into Owens’ decision. Luckily, Michigan State has good standing in this area.
Once Owens finishes his homework after school, he often heads directly for the weight room. The 16-year-old is a well-known gym rat at West Deptford. “I love the weight room, the weight room is like my second home,” he said. “If I’m not studying after school, you’ll find me in the weight room.” The motivation comes from his older brother, Jimmy, a running back at New Hampshire University. “When I was younger, I used to look up to him all the time. I was going to be as big as him, as strong as him and he kind of motivated me when I was younger,” Gerald recalls. “Now he pushes me every time we go to the weight room…Gee I got this weight up, see if you can do more. It’s just like a friendly, brotherly competition.” Extra weight training has already translated into outstanding stats from his junior year and a style of running few can endure.
While watching Owens perform, the first words that come to mind is road grader. The running back trucks any defender standing in his way, plowing through each as if sliding off water. Part of his success thus far can be attributed to this bruising style of carrying the ball, as Owens strikes the fear in the heart of many defenders. “I’ve never tried running away from anyone,” he told Hondo S. Carpenter Sr. on Spartan Nation Radio.
Even before he receives the ball, Owens can be an intimidating figure due to his size. Standing at 6’2, 250 pounds, Owens is an imposing figure. Even if a tackler is brave enough to lower his shoulders and go after Owens, there is no guarantee Owens will be brought down. For a big back, he has a surprising amount of balance. He can collide head-on with a defender yet still manage to stay on his feet and keep running, a rare feat for a running back such as him.
Owens’ talent isn’t limited to simply pounding the ball down the opposition’s throat. Though he identifies himself as a “power runner with a little speed and agility here and there,” Owens is truly all-around back. He can burst through a hole with speed, as Owens recently ran the 40-meter dash in 4.5 seconds, an incredible time for a bruising back. In addition to having a keen sense of balance, Owens also identifies his vision as a strongsuit. He is able to look downfield and predict where the defenders will be so he can evade incoming tacklers. And as Hondo pointed out during his interview with Owens, the young back has hops. “I can do a little jumping,” Owens agreed.
The powerful back also excels in the little things. He can block out of the backfield and lead another running back through a hole. “I love blocking, I love blocking a lot,” the potential future Spartan said. As many of the great former MSU backs, Owens can catch the ball well. When asked about his receiving prowess, the junior said, “I do very well. I can see the ball in very [well] and once I catch it on little screens and wheels, I read the blocks very well.” Finding the young back’s kryptonite is not as easy task.
Despite all of the success and attention Owens has enjoyed so far, the 16-year-old has managed to stay humble. “I’m just a normal kid,” Owens insisted. “My parents kept me humble, they always said, ‘Never let your head get too big.’ I’m just blessed to have all of this happen at the same time.” He might be a beast on the football field, but Owens is gentle and humble off of it. Even listening to him talk, one realizes that he gets the big picture. Owens is not only an exciting football prospect, but a fine young man.
The Michigan State coaching staff would love to add Owens to its 2014 recruiting class. The youngster is far from making a final decision, though. He is in no rush to commit, though he has set September as his deadline. Of his criteria for choosing a college, Owens said: “Academics is always first, but then if I feel comfortable at that school, [especially] the atmosphere, because I’m going to be the one living there for four to five years.” MSU boasts good marks in both areas and also has another appeal for Owens: the program’s reputation for producing NFL running backs. T.J. Duckett, Javon Ringer, Edwin Baker and LeVeon Bell have helped Michigan State become known as a school that nurtures talented, young backs into stars. Owens called the impressive list of Spartan backs to play in the NFL a “bonus.” If all goes well, he might be the next Spartan runner to do great things. Owens intends on visiting the campus in the next couple of weeks, as he is currently planning the details for his first trip to East Lansing.
Gerald Owens is an all-around gem. A solid young man with incredible talent, Owens has the tools to be a highly successful running back in college. Hopefully for Spartan Nation, he will choose Michigan State. But regardless of where he winds up, Owens’ potential is limitless.