Mechanicsville, Ga. – Just a week ago, three-star defensive back J.J. Givens boasted offers from 15 Division One programs, including Oklahoma, Michigan and Virginia Tech. Penn State joined that list on Wednesday when the Nittany Lions stopped by Givens’ high school.
“Coach came to the school today and they talked to my coach,” Givens said. “From there coach told me they were offering me a scholarship.”
With offers out to 20 defensive backs in the 2016 class, Penn State has already secured two commitments at the position. The Nittany Lions may have identified another potential pledge as Givens speaks very highly of the PSU coaching staff.
“So far from coach [Bob] Shoops there are nothing but good things,” Givens said. “I love what they are trying to do with the program and their mentality. They are gritty, hard-hitting defense. From there I can’t wait to meet the rest of the staff because if they are half as down to Earth or have half that mentality that coach Shoops has, I feel like Penn State might be the place for me.”
If Penn State does not turn out to be the future location for Givens, the highly ranked defensive back has a handful of other attractive options.
“Lately I would have to say it’s been Penn State, Wake Forest, N.C. State, Michigan, and Michigan State,” Givens said of who is recruiting him the hardest.
With options spread across the country, Givens will have some time to figure out where his future lies, as his recruitment is wide open for now.
“There is not really a particular program that is sticking out to me,” Givens said. “I would have to say, if anything, Arizona State, Oklahoma, Michigan and Michigan State have impressed me more than I thought they would. Like I said, I’m just going to continue to try to build connections and relationships with these coaches so I can find the right spot for me for the next couple years.”
Hailing from the state of Virginia, the Atlee junior defensive back has been hard at work this offseason, competing in multiple sports, to prepare for his senior season.
“The offseason has been great for me so far,” Givens said. “Scholarships have definitely been coming in at a pretty fast rate and just working out and perfecting my craft. I am on the Virginia Thoroughbreds travel 7-v-7 and my school starts on 7-v-7 in two weeks and I’m in track.”
By competing in offseason football workouts with the Thoroughbreds, Givens says he is hoping to improve on his technique as a whole upon his quest to become “the best” football player in the country.
“I would say my game as a whole,” Givens said of his focus. “I’m never satisfied with feeling like I’m good enough. I just keep working harder and trying to push myself over those limits so I can be the best I can be.”
Givens has quite a bit of physical prowess in his corner to help fuel his quest for greatness. At 6’2” and 170 pounds, Givens has the size to battle against taller receivers for jump balls at cornerback or help close passing lanes downfield from safety.
“I am a long, lanky, agile corner [or] safety,” said Givens. “I don’t really have a preference whether it comes to safety or corner. Whatever my coach needs me to do or whatever the team needs me to do, I will go out and fulfill that. I’m fast, active, trying to stay near the ball and trying to be the heart of the team. Whenever we are down I try to be the one who lifts us up. I want the best for the team and I told my teammates personally I don’t really care about my accolades. I’m moving all those to the side and focusing on the team because I’m a team-first player.”
Givens says his collegiate interest is spread across the two positions.
“It’s kind of divided at both,” Givens said. “Some schools at corner, some schools at safety. Penn State wants me to play safety.”
With offers continuing to pour in, Givens has shifted the timeline for when his college commitment will come.
“So a lot of sources, I was telling them that I had a little timetable for before the season or by the time we start playoffs,” Givens said. “But I think I’m going to take my five officials first. I’m going to have a narrowed down list by August, I’m going to take my five officials, then after that I’m going to know which school I want to go to.
“I’m going to be taking all five of my officials. Right now I have one school that is definitely receiving an official visit and I just need to figure out which schools will get the other four now.”