Penn State was known as Linebacker U. for a long time, producing some of the best linebackers in the nation. With commitments from three of the best linebackers in the nation, it appears coach Joe Paterno is rekindling that reputation.
The Nittany Lions have landed Khairi Fortt of Stamford, Conn., the best outside linebacker in the nation; DaKota Royer of Manheim, Pa., and Mike Hull of Canonsburg, Pa.
This is USC Week at Notre Dame and the Irish have accumulated a distinguished list of visitors, including offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson of St. Paul, Minn., the nation's No. 1 player; safety Corey Cooper of Proviso East, who earlier committed to Illinois; defensive back Dietrich Riley of LaCanada, Calif.; wide receiver T.J. Jones of Atlanta, who earlier committed to Stanford but whose father played at Notre Dame; free safety Devon Carrington of Phoenix, who earlier committed to Stanford; and running back Jordan James of Corona, Calif., who has been offered by USC and UCLA, is averaging 10 yards per carry and is my choice as the most underrated player in the nation.
USC is countering Notre Dame's recruiting effort on Henderson by pushing hip-hop. Rap artist Snoopy Dogg is trying to woo the 6-7, 325-pound lineman from Minnesota to the West Coast.
In the Chicago area, I have seen several players who deserve to be recruited, already are being recruited or definitely will be recruited in the future.
Fremd's Evan Wright, a running back with 4.5 speed who runs behind Notre Dame-bound Christian Lombard, is being overlooked. I've seen him play in three games and he runs with speed and power. He also has vision and balance. A tough kid, he should play safety on defense. It would give him a better chance to get offers.
Wright's teammate, 6-3, 260-pound junior center Brian Bobek, is rated a future big-time prospect by Fremd coach Mike Donatucci.
Keep an eye on 6-7, 235-pound junior offensive lineman Pat Flavin of Benet. He is very athletic and blocks out on the second level on almost every play. However, he must gain at least 35 pounds in the next two years to be a major player. He has the lower body of a tight end, not an offensive lineman.
Bishop McNamara's Matt Frazier, a 6-3, 260-pound junior offensive lineman, has good technique. St. Viator's Jack Etchingham, a 6-2, 205-pound senior linebacker, is a great tackler who scored 32 on his ACT and could be headed to the Ivy League. Loyola's Pat Mulroe, a 6-4, 255-pound junior offensive lineman whose older brother is playing at Northwestern, will be a big-time recruit next season if he gains 30 pounds.
St. Rita's Bruce Gaston, a 6-3, 300-pound senior defensive lineman, continues to be one of the leading uncommitted players in the state. In fact, he has gone from a non-prospect to one of the two or three most dominating defensive linemen in the Midwest. He dominated in last week's loss to Providence, which was impressive.
Other juniors to watch are 6-4, 270-pound offensive lineman Jordan Walsh of Glenbard West, who hasn't allowed a sack this season and definitely projects to be a Division I recruit; running back Peter Bonahoom of Prospect, who plays in Miles Osei's shadow; linebacker Jeremy Burgos of Notre Dame, who has cultivated interest from Nebraska; quarterback/safety Dontae McCoy of Shepard, who has stirred interest from Northwestern; 6-6, 275-pound offensive lineman Dan Lembke and linebacker Tyler Plantz of Providence; and quarterback Mark Iannotti of Schaumburg.