Among the schools showing interest in the 6-foot-3, 195 pounder are Duke, Clemson, North Carolina, NC State, South Carolina, Michigan State, Northwestern, and Wake Forest. None of the programs have offered at this point, but that seems certain to change in the very near future.
"Duke is very, very close to offering me. I am going down there on March 29th for their junior day and if all goes well I think they are going to offer me officially then. Clemson and Maryland say they won't offer until they see me throw with their quarterbacks, but I talk to them a lot as well."
Considered one of the top overall prospects in the class of 2009 for the Old North State, O'Brien's interest in Duke has peaked with the hiring of Cutcliffe and gives the Blue Devils a fighting chance for a top in-state player. Something that hasn't happened in many years.
"Coach Cutcliffe has coaches the last two Super Bowl MVPs, and they have told me that I am 'the guy' in 2009 for them at the quarterback position. He joked with me last time I talked to him that there's really no pressure - I'd just need to be a Super Bowl MVP. It's kind of funny, but also pretty impressive."
Perhaps, but Cutcliffe's staff is also in the middle of an attempted turn around of a Blue Devil program that has won more than one game in more than four seasons. But, apparently the new staff needs no help in making believers out of their recruiting targets.
"I find it hard to believe that those coaches won't have Duke winning very soon. They have been part of winning programs wherever they've been. They are going to have that program heading in the right direction from day one. I don't think it's even a question. They are building their offense around great quarterbacks and they've got the coaches to make them excel."
Phone conversations with the head coach aren't the only gestures the Blue Devils are making towards O'Brien either. In fact it's an entire staff effort.
"I've talked with Coach Roper and Coach Collins on a weekly basis, and recently I got 25 letters in one day. There were 10 to my parents and 15 to my from the entire coaching staff. All hand written. It was really pretty cool. It shows they are really serious about what they're telling me."
Still, there's a long way to go with O'Brien and his recruiting process as several schools are going to match the Blue Devils' efforts on the recruiting trail in some form.
"I've been to Notre Dame a few times, but my recruiting coach retired and I haven't heard much from them since. I don't know what's going on there. Clemson has been on my the longest, and I talk to my recruiting coach weeky. I also talk to UNC and Maryland pretty often. I've also been to Wake five or six times since it's so close to me."
So what are the factors O'Brien will use to measure his potential schools?
"I want to see which coaches I fit with. I am also looking at the overall program and campus life and how comfortable I am in both areas. There's also the educational aspect. Getting a good degree is really important to me. When ti comes to playing time - I know I am going to need to go in and compete. If there is early playing time available, that's fine. If not, I can go in and redshirt and then come out the next year and compete."
Claiming no real timetable for making a decision, O'Brien has lined up a few campus visits for junior days and will be attending the Elite 11 Camp as well as the Nike Football camp this summer as well as camping with several potential suitors including the Blue Devils.
"It'll be busy, but I will also be better prepared for my senior season. We're looking like we're going to be really good. We return 10 offensive starters and have about 20 or so new players coming in with a lot of speed. I think it's going to be a great year."
As a junior O'Brien threw for more than 1,900 yards and 17 scores.