- Erik McKinney, ESPN Staff Writer
Brandon Arnold (Encino, Calif./Crespi) wasn't supposed to take an official visit this past weekend. The three-star safety originally had a free weekend, but Oregon State took advantage of a bye weekend for Crespi and convinced Arnold to push his Nov. 16 visit up two weeks. It appears to have been a smart decision.
"I loved Oregon," he said. "It's a beautiful state, very colorful. Oregon State, I loved it altogether. I loved the people, the fans, the atmosphere, the stadium, meeting with the coaching staff. The education is really nice. I liked the campus and meeting with a couple of the players was really cool.
"It definitely puts them up at No. 1. They are definitely on top of my list as of now."
Arnold said he still wants to take remaining visits -- to Boise State on Nov. 16 and to California likely during the offseason -- before making a decision, but programs will need to do some work to dislodge Oregon State from the top spot.
"I already knew the coaching staff was good from talking to coach [Mike] Riley and the defensive coaches," Arnold said. "But it still surprised me. I didn't know it was that much of a college town. Adding to that was the fact that the atmosphere was intense. I liked the crowd -- they were the kind of fans I like. Overall, it surprised me."
Arnold said he also enjoyed reviewing the academic plan presented by the Beavers.
"They talk about guaranteeing that as long as you stay on track, you'll finish in three and a half years," Arnold said. "It was all really good to hear about that."
During the Beavers' victory against Arizona State, Arnold said he had an opportunity to watch Oregon State's safeties and felt he fit in well with the defensive scheme.
"I watched them a lot and would fit there perfectly fine," he said. "They run a lot of quarters out of a base defense, which is the same thing we do at Crespi. Sometimes they bring on an extra corner or safety, which reminds me of what we do. It's a defense I'm used to running now."
As visits are finalized, it appears Michigan State -- an early favorite of Arnold's -- has dropped down his list, which Arnold confirmed. He said he likely won't be able to get out to see the Spartans on a visit and that his focus has shifted back to schools closer to the West Coast.