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Conference breakdown: Tennessee, SEC thriving; Big East struggling

After another week of 2013 recruiting happenings, Rivals recaps the top storylines from each BCS conference.

It's still early, but Florida State is off to a roaring start with three commitments from four-star prospects and eight commitments overall. Prattville (Ala.) offensive tackle Austin Golson is the highest ranked recruit (No. 57), while Immokalee (Fla.) defensive tackle Deadrin Senat and Plantation (Fla.) cornerback Sojourn Shelton each pledged to the Seminoles over a number of high-profile suitors. After landing one of the nation's top classes in February, Jimbo Fisher and Co. aren't showing any signs of slowing down.

Several other targets remain on Florida State's radar. In-state linemen Austin Droogsma and five-star Laremy Tunsil are high on the Seminoles, and Orlando (Fla.) Evans wideout Dominic Walker and St. Petersburg Catholic (Fla.) running back Ryan Green remain squarely in the mix. Between its early success and the prospects it's closing in on, Florida State could be in line for another heralded haul in 2013.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the current Big East member schools are off to pedestrian starts on the recruiting trail. Louisville and South Florida lead the way with three commitments apiece, and UConn picked up two after its recent junior day event. Rutgers has just one verbal, from Springfield (N.J.) Jonathan Dayton Regional athlete Anthony Cioffi, while Syracuse, Pitt, Cincinnati and Temple have zero.

Louisville coach Charlie Strong has proven himself as a strong recruiter, and the Cardinals could be in position to make a serious splash. It'd be surprising if Louisville didn't finish with the top class in the conference, and it already boasts pledges from in-state quarterback Kyle Bolin, Fleming Island (Fla.) safety Donel Elam and Louisville (Ky.) Trinity cornerback Ryan White. White could be especially valuable, as he's teammates with several other top talents, including four-star wideout James Quick and defensive end Jason Hatcher.

The last few months have constituted some of the most trying times in the storied history of Penn State football, but the past week may signify the sun finally breaking through the clouds. New coach Bill O'Brien flexed his recruiting muscle by landing four Rivals250 prospects, the latest coming from Camp Hill (Pa.) Cedar Cliff tight end Adam Breneman (No. 22). As a junior, Breneman caught 72 passes for 1,120 yards and 12 touchdowns and joins four-star defensive end Garrett Sickels (No. 50), quarterback Christian Hackenberg (No. 153) and athlete Ross Douglas (No. 242) in the Nittany Lions' growing class.

Pulling in four prized recruits in a two-week span is certainly a major feat, but the haul may represent something even greater. Many pundits expected it to take years for Penn State to recover from the Jerry Sandusky scandal and loss of legendary coach Joe Paterno, a notion that would be mirrored in its recruiting. Entering the middle of March, however, Penn State is proving it can still recruit with the premier programs in the country -- and could well be on its way to fielding a Big Ten power in the not so distant future.

Heading into last weekend, every school in the Big 12 -- with the exception of Iowa State and Oklahoma -- had at least one verbal commitment in the class of 2013. Sooners' fans were growing restless, especially given that Texas and Texas A&M had gained 11 and 12 pledges, respectively.

Following the team's junior day event, that mindset has changed. Oklahoma nabbed the building block of their 2013 class in Cypress (Texas) Ranch running back Keith Ford (No. 113) and made headway with several other top recruits. Katy (Texas) defensive end Matt Dimon, running back Adam Taylor, Dallas (Texas) Kimball defensive tackle Justin Manning, Arvada (Colo.) Ralston Valley offensive tackle Dan Skipper, Rockwall (Texas) Heath linebacker Raaquan Davis and Denton (Texas) Guyer wide receiver Ellis Jefferson are all seriously considering pledging to Norman.

After landing the No. 11 class in the 2012 cycle, Oklahoma could be primed to vault into the top ten with its 2013 crop.

Jim Harbaugh built something special during his tenure at Stanford, transforming the Cardinal from a Pac-12 afterthought to a budding BCS contender. When he left for the NFL, however, many analysts questioned whether David Shaw could continue his success -- especially in the recruiting realm.

Entering his second season as coach, Shaw has eradicated those doubts. He landed the nation's No. 5 class in 2012 -- headlined by five-stars Kyle Murphy, Aziz Shittu and Andrus Peat -- and is off to a tremendous start in 2013. The Cardinal have already received commitments from four-star Ashburn (Va.) Stone Bridge quarterback Ryan Burns and Richmond (Va.) Woodberry Forest School linebacker Doug Randolph.

With outstanding academics, a gorgeous campus and status as a legitimate Pac-12 power, Stanford has quickly emerged as a premier West Coast destination. Harbaugh got the ball rolling, and Shaw has done a sensational job of capitalizing on the program's momentum.

Consider this: A year ago, Tennessee had exactly one pledge. That was Gainesville (Ga.) North Hall running back Imani Cross, a player who ultimately signed with Nebraska. The Volunteers' second recruit didn't verbally commit until June.

What a difference a year makes. As of Monday, Tennessee boasts four commitments and two four-star prospects. And with Memphis (Tenn.) White Station defensive end Jason Carr and Cleveland (Tenn.) Bradley Central offensive tackle Austin Sanders already on board, more top recruits could soon follow suit.

The Vols hosted a number of elite prospects last week, including McDonough (Ga.) Eagle's Landing defensive end Isaac Rochell, Rossville (Ga.) Ridgeland safety Vonn Bell and Winter Garden (Fla.) West Orange linebacker Corey Vereen, who committed on March 2. This week, several other big names are set to visit, including Vienna (Ga.) Dooly County defensive tackle Montravius Adams and Marietta (Ga.) Kell cornerback Brendan Langley.

Derek Dooley is making strong initial impressions, something that could pay major dividends come Signing Day in 2013.

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