February 1, 2011 // Recruiting

Bennett Okotcha Flips to Oklahoma

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According to multiple recruiting services, cornerback Bennett Okotcha has switched his verbal commitment to Oklahoma and will sign with the Sooners on National Signing Day this Wednesday.  The loss leaves Notre Dame with 22 verbal commitments two days before Signing Day.

Notre Dame has had good luck with decommitments this year with the Irish staff bringing two recruits who decommitted from Notre Dame (Aaron Lynch and Stephon Tuitt) back into the fold, but reportedly have not been able to hang on to Okotcha after previously gaining his commitment by getting him to decommit from Wisconsin.

While the Irish staff was able to work wonders with Lynch and Tuitt, but will have a much more difficult time trying to flip Okotcha back to Notre Dame with only two days until Signing Day.  Complicating matter for the Irish coaches is the fact that we are currently in a “dead period” of recruiting during which in-person visits are not allowed.  When Tuitt flipped to Georgia Tech momentarily, almost the entire Irish defensive coaching staff along with Kelly made an in-home visit with Tuitt to get him back in the fold.  That option is not available to the staff in this instance.

If Okotcha ends up signing with Oklahoma on Wednesday, Notre Dame will still have two corners and two safeties in this class – Jalen Brown and Josh Atkinson at corner and Eliar Hardy and Mathias Farley at safety.

In a move that may be related to Okotcha’s decommitment, sophomore to be Bennett Jackson has reportedly moved from wide receiver to cornerback.   With an abundance of wide receivers on the team along with incoming freshman George Atkinson and Davaris Daniels and a shortage of defensive backs, the move makes sense – especially with Okotcha’s flip to Oklahoma.

Notre Dame’s cornerback depth now looks like this:

  • 5th Year: Gary Gray
  • Seniors: Robert Blanton
  • Juniors: None
  • Sophomores: Lo Wood, Bennett Jackson
  • Freshman: Josh Atkinson, Jalen Brown

Even if Okotcha hadn’t flipped it seems possible Jackson would have moved to corner with such a lack of depth with eligibility remaining.  It will also now become important for Notre Dame to bring in some impact corners next year who can play early if need be.

Comments to this Article

  • VicPaul commented on February 1st, 2011 at 1:53 am

    Wow we are young in the backfield. Boys are going to have to learn on the job pretty quick. Hopefully our pass rush gets to the QB a little quicker so we’re not leaving these kids out to dry.

    [Reply]

    Bill Meehan replied on February 1st, 2011 at 5:06 am

    I wouldn’t say we’re young. I’d say we’re thin in the backfield.

    Gray and Blanton have the experience and skill to be a pretty good tandem. The problem is the depth behind them. Lo Wood seemed to have the confidence of the coaching staff last year, so we might not be quite that bad off.

    But I’m pretty sure both Blanton and Gray will have used up their eligibility after this year, so next year (2012) would be a young one.

    That said, if Bennett brings 1/2 the intensity he had on Special Teams (ST) last year to the defensive secondary we’ll be quite well off. I wasn’t surprised at all that he won the ST award because frankly I was blown away with his effort getting down-field and making plays on the coverage units.

    [Reply]

  • joeyknucklehead commented on February 1st, 2011 at 8:16 am

    Although J.Slaughter is listed as a Safety, he has some experience at CB to add to depth this season. But developing CBs for the 2012 season will be the issue – ND’s front seven should be dominating by then.

    [Reply]

  • DublinOHIrish commented on February 1st, 2011 at 10:41 am

    I hate to lose anyone in a position of need, but sounds like this kid hasn’t been firm with anything in the recruiting process, switching from Wisconsin to ND and now to Oklahoma. At least with the others, they were going back and forth with two schools they really liked. Sounds like he was just taking the next best offer that came along. Jackson will be a solid addition to corner with good speed and a knack to hit someone.

    [Reply]

  • Texas Irish commented on February 1st, 2011 at 11:58 am

    Hopefully Cam can talk him into sticking with the Irish. It sucks that UT and Oklahoma get ALL the top players from Texas. I wish ND’s neutral game each year was played in Texas or Florida every year. The Irish have better luck with the Florida players than the Texas players. Football is litterally a RELIGION in the state of Texas and getting these kids to go elsewhere is a MAJOR challenge. Atleast we have a plan B in moving Jackson. What a team player to move positions. Thanks Bennett. Do you guys think ND will target any off the radar corner backs or do you think well stick with what we have?

    GO IRISH!!!

    [Reply]

  • Bnieves commented on February 1st, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    Isn’t Matthias Farley being recruited to play CB?

    [Reply]

    reycoz replied on February 1st, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    Yes…But the Irish will use his height to bulk him up and play safety..We need more depth at the safety position right now….Here’s a thought.. Dion walker. How’s about you..Don’t be a matt romine, dawg…You are under armor material..Could use you in the dime, dawg…

    [Reply]

  • Dearborn Dan commented on February 1st, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Hate to see anyone walk this late in the game but that’s the nature of college football these days, and we have done our share of pilfering other programs this year so we shouldn’t bi***. Wish they had worked Bennett into the secondary some last year…he seems to hit well and his speed could be a big asset at corner if has any technique. Hopefully spring ball will get him some needed reps so that he won’t be learning on the job doing spot minutes against ranked teams all year.

    Kelly seems to be able to convert his athletes to new positions better than most, so hopefully he’ll be able to find some additional corners to bolster the depth chart – otherwise a couple injuries to Gray and Blanton and a solid secondary gets real young real fast.

    [Reply]

  • Richo commented on February 2nd, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    OK, so how many decommits are due to athletes not meeting academic standards by Official Signing Day?

    [Reply]

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