Recruiting Notebook: The California Complex

NU plays California in week one. Before then, it will try to conquer the state in recruiting.

Bobby Okereke contacted me earlier in the week, and said that he will consider the following schools: Northwestern, Vanderbilt (gasp), USC, California, Wisconsin, Washington, Stanford and Oregon. If UCLA offers–and it looks as though the Bruins should–they would enter the fray as well. NU needs to lock up at least one defensive end in the class of 2014. They're aggressively pursuing several targets, and the multi-talented Okereke could play D-end or even super back. But it will be difficult to differentiate the program enough and beat some of those traditional California powerhouses.

Garrett Dickerson released his top three last week, which includes Stanford, Michigan and Northwestern.'s Brian Dohn noted that it would be difficult for NU–currently in third–to beat the other two schools. Still, this would be a monumental upset—and is something well worth the battle. Pat Fitzgerald and the strong coaching staff plays a role in his interest. Like I said when he released the abbreviated list: If NU wins this one, you can't attribute it to "academics." It would be the defining signal of a program on the rise.

— Am I cooling on Lee? Yes. I believed that because of his strong relationships with coaches, the four-star Lawrence Central (Ind.) outside linebacker will end up at NU. Even the Indiana prospect, though, finds his list still including California. He also sent a somewhat perplexing tweet about being enrolled in college by January. It's a little early to overanalyze tweets, but Lee just recently visited Cal and new head coach Sonny Dykes. He still has to check out NU campus–a much closer destination–in the coming weeks. The program could still use some outside linebacker talent; this one appears wide open.

— We introduced you to Ron Robinson in the middle of May. The Santiago HS (Calif.) safety earned the attention of Jerry Brown, and picked up an NU offer due to his physicality. Yesterday, he picked up a UCLA offer, and now there's another California school in the mix for an NU target. When the Wildcats get Robinson up to campus in July, they can easily sell him on the NU program. It might be tough to beat one of his in-state schools, but they do need some fixes at the defensive back spot.

As visits pick up, we'll have some breaking news and (hopefully) commitment stories at Stay tuned.

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