Five thoughts on the latest college football recruiting developments.
1. Penn State looks to rally under Bill O'Brien. Since taking over in Happy Valley last week, O'Brien has already reached out to the majority of the 14 players in the Nittany Lions' 2012 recruiting class. His first job is to keep everyone onboard, including four-star cornerback Armani Reeves and linebacker Camren Williams, both prospects who could set up visits by the end of the month. Once the dead period ends, expect O'Brien to heavily pursue running backs and offensive linemen, with Akeel Lynch -- a dynamic 5-foot-11 runner out of St. Francis (N.Y.) -- high on his wish list.
2. The SEC, Big 12 continue to battle for DGB. The nation's consensus top wideout, Hillcrest's (Mo.) Dorial Green-Beckham, maintains that his top five consists of Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas and that he isn't ready to narrow his list to three. Green-Beckham visited Austin on Nov. 18 and plans to head to Fayetteville on Jan. 20. It should all come down to National Signing Day, with his addition immediately upgrading any offense: He set the all-time high school receiving record with 6,447 yards during his prolific career.
3. Good news, bad news for the Irish. Bolstering the secondary was a major concern in Notre Dame's 2012 recruiting, and Brian Kelly, for the most part, has addressed it in this year's cycle. Despite a late charge from USC, the Irish secured blue-chip cornerback Tee Shepard, a four-star talent set to enroll early. However, Notre Dame suffered a setback when Ronald Darby, a four-star corner out of Potomac (Md.), decommitted on Sunday to reconsider Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Maryland and USC. Other defensive backs bound for South Bend include safeties Elijah Shumate, Nicky Baratti and C.J. Prosise.
4. Virginia's defense should benefit from some home cooking. Cavalier commits Eli Harold and Kwontie Moore, both Top 50 recruits, appear poised to make major impacts upon their arrival in Charlottesville. Both thrived during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and could see early playing time for a unit that ranked 40th in the nation in total defense. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Harold has tremendous potential at defensive end despite doubling as a quarterback, running back and receiver at Ocean Lakes (Va.). The 6-foot-2, 243-pound Moore already has the frame of a Division-I linebacker and boasts BCS-caliber instincts and sideline-to-sideline range.
5. Northwestern is closing with a national push. Pat Fitzgerald locked up his biggest recruit since taking over at his alma mater, landing Under Armour All-America linebacker Ifeadi Odenigbo on Jan. 7. The 6-foot-3, 212-pounder led the Greater Western Ohio Conference with 7.5 sacks and should provide an instant boost for a Wildcats' defense that finished last in the Big Ten in pass defense. Assistant coach Randy Bates was the lead recruiter on Odenigbo, and has also made headway with current Texas A&M commit Julien Obioha, who plans to visit Evanston on Jan. 20. Former blue-chip receiver and USC transfer Kyle Prater, a Chicago native, is also looking at Northwestern, with Wisconsin the other program high on his list.
• After watching Baylor's Robert Griffin III win the Heisman, Old Tappan (N.J.) athlete and quarterback Devin Fuller is considering taking his final official visit to the Bears. Fuller already checked out Nebraska and TCU, and will head to UCLA and Rutgers in the coming two weeks. Arizona and Notre Dame also remain in the mix.
• Cal landed commitments from blue-chip prospects Shaq Thompson, Ellis McCarthy and Jordan Payton during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, and looks to ride that momentum as Signing Day approaches. The Bears appear to be the leader for five-star defensive lineman Arik Armstead, and two other touted prospects, cornerback Yuri Wright and linebacker David Perkins, plan to take officials at the end of the month. Cal currently has 18 recruits -- seven rated four-stars or higher -- in the nation's 13th-ranked class.
• Derek Dooley and Tennessee are off to a great start in the class of 2013, landing their second verbal commitment in Immokalee (Fla.) cornerback MacKensie Alexander. Alexander also held scholarships from Florida, Miami, Ohio State and South Carolina before pledging on Jan. 11.
• Arguably the nation's top 2013 recruit, Manual (Ill.) offensive tackle Logan Tuley-Tillman added offers from Arkansas, Oklahoma State and South Carolina this week, and USC could be next. Michigan remains the early frontrunner for the 6-foot-7, 280-pound stalwart, but Ohio State will have him on campus for a visit on Sunday.