Louisville sent shockwaves through the 2023 recruiting cycle Monday afternoon, when the Cardinals landed a commitment from 247Sports Composite five-star running back Rueben Owens out of El Campo (Texas) High School. A top 20 overall recruit in the Top247 rankings, Owens is the nation’s No. 1 running back in the 2023 class and No. 2 overall prospect in the talent-rich Lone Star State.
Owens’ monstrous production increase year-over-year saw him jump from 1,511 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns as a sophomore in Fall 2020 to 2,989 yards and 46 touchdowns in his Fall 2021 junior campaign. Additionally, his already excellent yards per carry rate of 10.79 in 2020 rose even higher this past fall, when he averaged 12.05 yards per carry.
Owens — the 2021 Texas Sports Writers Association Class 4A Co-Offensive Player of the Year — enters his senior season with 5,308 rushing yards and 76 touchdowns, in addition to 20 receptions for 366 yards and three scores over the last two seasons.
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Owens is a natural big-play back with home run-hitting athleticism and high-volume physical capabilities. His increasingly impressive track and field profile includes a quartet of sub-11.00 100-meter times this spring: 10.68, 10.72, 10.87, and 10.95. He won bronze for the second consecutive year at the Texas Class 4A state track and field championships in the long jump, which saw him leap 23 feet, 1/4 inch in May. That followed his 22-10 3/4 bronze-winning long jump in May 2021.
“Love the tape and the play style,” said Cooper Petagna, 247Sports national analyst.
Andrew Ivins, 247Sports Southeast analyst, added, “I liked him a lot at Battle Miami (in late January)” and noted Owens’ “elite burst” and encouraging ability to catch the ball out of the backfield in a 7-on-7 environment, valuable context for a player from a run-oriented high school offense.
“Rueben Owens looked like a legit five-star running back,” Ivins said of Owens’ Battle Miami performance. “He has an extra gear that allowed him to get behind linebackers / inside corners on wheel and angle routes.”
Owens is a natural at the running back position, a highly athletic runner with linear juice and impressive redirecting ability without gearing down. He’s especially dangerous if he’s offered a clear north-south lane to accelerate, but he’s also shown effective second-level and open-field nuance to string moves together and find more open room to unleash that top gear.
Here’s more on Owens via his 247Sports scouting report, which was updated in March prior to several of the aforementioned track and field feats from April and May.
247SPORTS SCOUTING REPORT
Owns the requisite frame with an athletic build and room to add necessary mass. Looks and plays taller/longer than listing with open-field gait on the longer end of the spectrum that fosters speed-building ability at the top end.
Production jumped from freshman to sophomore year with obvious big-play punch (10.79 ypc), then again in junior year with enormous production in counting stats and terrific per carry rate (12.05). Field speed is a plus and reflects in sophomore track times, including a 10.96 100 and multiple in the 11.1 range. Texas Class 4A state-level contender in the long jump with a 23-3 3/4 PR.
Flashes impressive short-area suddenness with agility to make defenders miss in the hole. Does not require much gear-down when redirecting. Couples those traits with impressive burst and acceleration to reach top speed quickly. Shows good contact balance at the second level.
Capable pass catcher with 7-on-7 reps as a receiver, though in-game opportunities catching the ball have been limited (20 receptions in sophomore and junior seasons). Third-down competency in blitz pickup and increased passing game reps can be developed. Vertical runner at times with a higher center of gravity.
Looked like one of the best 2023 running backs nationally early on and reinforced that in exceptional junior campaign. Projects as a difference-making high-major back with long-term NFL Draft early-round potential.