July 11, 2011 // Recruiting

Romeo Okwara Commits to Notre Dame

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Notre Dame picked up its 12th commitment for the class of 2012 over the weekend and like many of the other commitments so far, it came on the defensive side of the ball.  Romeo Okwara, a 6’4′, 235 lb linebacker from North Carolina, became the latest prospect to commit to the Irish.

Okwara, a former high school teammate of current Notre Dame sophomore Prince Shembo at Andrey Kell High School, let the college football world know he selected Notre Dame over Facebook with a status update of “Committed to Notre Dame! Okwara’s commitment comes on the heels of his first unofficial visit to Notre Dame which he took last week.

Like most of the defensive players Kelly and staff have recruited since they arrived at Notre Dame, Okwara fits the profile they are looking for in this case, at outside linebacker.  Okwara should also continue to grow quite a bit before reaching South Bend as the three star prospect just recently turned 16.

At the high school level Okwara has played defensive end, similarly to Shembo in high school.  Just like Shembo, Okwara projects as an outside linebacker at the college level – at least initially.  With his current size at the age of 16, it wouldn’t be too surprising if he eventually grew into a defensive end much like the way Kapron Lewis-Moore did once he got to college.  Lewis-Moore was 6’5″, 225 lbs coming out of high school according to bio on Rivals.

As a pass rusher, Okwara has a lot of potential (videos below), but he’ll need work in pass coverage once he gets to Notre Dame as it’s not something he is asked to do much on the prep level right now. As a pass rusher with his hand on the ground though, Okwara comes off the ball quickly and has good power moves to go along with his speed rush.

Notre Dame has two commitments at the outside linebacker position now with Okwara joining David Perkins.  Okwara is also the seventh defensive commitment for the class of 2012 with all of others outside of Okwara and Perkins coming in the secondary.

Before selecting Notre Dame, Okwara held offers from Clemson, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Miami, and Pittsburgh.

Notre Dame picked up its 12th commitment for the class of 2012 over the weekend and like many of the other commitments so far, it came on the defensive side of the ball.

Comments to this Article

  • macko commented on July 11th, 2011 at 7:28 am

    Why does it seem we are going for alot of 3* recruits. Shouldn’t we fill up with as many 5&4*s as possible and then fill our left over slots with 3*s????

    [Reply]

    GOND89 replied on July 19th, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    macko –

    It’s over a week later and I’m just getting to this now. I have no divine insight. But as a fellow-Bostonian, don’t forget the type of players BK is after: RKG';s. (Right Kinda Guys)

    [Reply]

  • SteelFanRob commented on July 11th, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    Question?

    Are we recruiting too many “project”-type players (i.e., 2-3 stars)? Will ND have enough scholarships to offer “blue-chip” recruits (i.e., 4-5 stars) down the road?

    Thoughts?

    Also, is there any update on Jordan Prestwood’s transfer from FSU to ND?

    [Reply]

    Shazamrock replied on July 12th, 2011 at 8:03 am

    SFR,

    Charlie Weis had numerous 5-star guys that never seemed to pan-out. I believe because he never had the ability to develop them to their full potential.
    I think in a lot of cases the 5 star high school recruit is over rated.
    I would much rather have a 3 star guy who was willing to be a team player and work hard, than some kid who thought he was intitled to special treatment and was only using the University as a stepping stone to get to the NFL.
    Don’t get me wrong, the right 5 star blue chipper (Dane Christ, Manti Teo)can really make a difference to your team. The wrong 5 star guy (Terrell Prior) can kill it!

    [Reply]

  • SteelFanRob commented on July 12th, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Shaz,

    I agree with you. However, I just think that if you look at the retrospective of the best players of the past decade going on here at uhnd.com, you’ll note that many (if not most) were highly rated players nationally. What’s more, if you look at almost all of our current guys being put on pre-season award lists, such as Crist, Floyd, Teo, etc., they also were nationally ranked recruits. Yes, the right 3-star recruit is better than the wrong nationally ranked player. But ND doesn’t need to have it be an either/or scenario. All things being equal, give me the right 5-star recruit over the right 3-star player. Both will need coaching-up at the next level anyway. (It’s not a matter of getting a blue-chip recruit and then not developing them; this is another false either/or scenario. There’s nothing that says getting top-rated recruits means you don’t develop their natural talents by coaching fundamentals!)

    [Reply]

  • jack commented on July 12th, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Steelfan,

    I believe BK is recruiting kids that fit his system and not stars. Remember when Lynch was first recruited he was a three star. His is truely one of the best D-line recruits to walk into ND in years. Also there are usually not that highly rank d-backs and safties which is a lot of this class. Finally Golson was a three star based on his size and size alone. It is important to recuit the player that matches the system and not stars. We will see in the next couple of months if he has an eye for talent, can coach some of these players up and how there careers will turn out. Remember a 3 star recruit will be a solid college starter when he gets older. A 4-5 star recruit can contribute right away. Also Ben Council was a 3 star recruit initially until after the Shrine game.

    [Reply]

  • SteelfanRob commented on July 12th, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    jack,

    Again, I don’t disagree with your premise. BK needs to find the right players for his O and D schemes. No doubt. My only point is we shouldn’t expend so many scholarships on 2-3 star recruits. ND isn’t Cinci. I just don’t see how there are not 4-5 star recruits who also happen to be the right BK type guys. Recruiting at ND shouldn’t be a matter of either landing a nationally rated recruit or the right kind of system player or character guy. ND should be able to land both in one player. At least that’s my opinion.

    Having said that, I have no doubt that BK and his staff will do wonders with both the the blue-chippers and the lower-rated recruits in terms of development. This is no longer CW’s failed regime not coaching players up.

    [Reply]

    ted replied on July 12th, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    steel,

    your points are well taken.

    we are not there yet. lest we forget, we have been a .500 team for pretty much the past decade and a half. teams like tx and florida hold their offers tight to their chests b.c. many 4-5 star guys will jump at an offer. just look at the tx and florida current commits, they have 10-15 4-5 star dudes already. we have offered tons of 4-5 star guys but the ones that will jump when offered are the 3-star guys.

    we shouldn’t be more selective until we truly get the hype back (maybe 2-3 years of legit bcs contending teams and a nc). just look to the weis era, he was too selective and, as a result, we were constantly under the schollie limit and lacking in depth. i would rather bring in a full rostor with less 4-5 star dudes and more 3-4 star players that are excited and hungry to be here. other schools have 4-5 star dudes that are excited and hungry, we just don’t have it yet.

    i know we get wrapped up in it all and are excited about where this train is heading, but we need to be realistic about how recruits see nd. i think tee shepard was quoted not too long ago that after we beat up on usc at home the recruits will flock…that might be a stretch, but he’s right that we don’t have the swagger back yet. one half of a season just isn’t enough.

    [Reply]

  • SteelfanRob commented on July 12th, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    ted,

    Thanks!

    In the end, give me a guy who’s hungry to be a part of ND football and its return to glory. Rivals and Scouts.com rankings be damned!

    GO IRISH!!!

    [Reply]

  • Shazamrock commented on July 13th, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    There are many schools out there that “over” recruit.
    Yes they fill all their available scholarships and rarely have depth issues on their rosters. But they also have to go back and pull offers / scholarships to some players to make room for those they deem more important.
    At ND, when they make an offer and give their word, they stand behind it.
    That to me, that is more important and worth more than the non filling of a scholarship or two.

    [Reply]

  • jack commented on July 13th, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Steelfan,

    I understand your points that great talent wins championships, however the previous 5 classes have had great talent and have not accomplished anything. Here is what I believe is need to win a National Championship. It is my formula to National Championship success:

    1. Talent/Great recruiting classes
    2. Player development turning Johnny 3 star into dominant player
    3. Great coach that implements his system
    4. Schedule that wins you points in the polls
    5. And finally luck. Winning one game when you play horrible and should lose.

    The one key everyone overlooks is finding the three star that becomes dominant, whether it is Justin Tuck or someone else. I have seen BK take one player and make him good who was a 3 star and that is Zeke Motta. I do believe we need 4-5 star talent and it will come. Right now I see him recruiting a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball at positions where there is not a lot of 4-5 star talent db’s and olb’s. he is also recruiting body type per position which is also good. Again Steelfan I do agree that we need 4-5 star talent but most of ND’s talent in the NFL were 3 star players.

    [Reply]

  • C-Dog commented on July 13th, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    Everyone here probably is agreeing but for the want to debate.

    The key is having enough 4 and 5 star talent at key positions and filling in with so called 3 star talent. The rankings and ratings are helpful to coaches, but in no way are they totally accurate. Truly a coach has to take the short list of 3’s,4’s, and5’s and dig deeper.

    Speed and quickness should be a priority for at least 2 reciever positions and at least one running back position. I say AT LEAST. LB’s need speed and strength. Safeties same thing. Cornerbacks – speed and quickness.

    Now you want some height at receiver too, as well as at cornerback if possible.

    O-Line and D-Line, you’d like strength and stamina. The kid has to be tough, another intangable. I’d want smart, tough, hungry, humble linemen with a bit of a chip. All Intangables, but something a coach could assess.
    You can teach the footwork, although that is VERY important these days for a linemen.

    You aren’t going to get everything, but you want the odds with you so you do need a good mix that includes the hungry character kids and the talented stars.

    You’d like the kid who thinks he’s a “Rudy” be a 4 star guy.

    So to give my thoughts to your question Steelfan, ND has enough 4 and 5 star kids right now. We can be number 1 on the field without being number 1 in the lunginbill ratings.

    Weis had a whole bunch of great classes, but they were stacked on offense. Kelly is leaning the other way right now, but will maintain a more balanced approach. Right now ND seems to have the right mix.

    [Reply]

    jack replied on July 14th, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    C-Dog,

    Great analysis and great to have you back on the board. I think BK is really trying to build depth on the d-side of the ball in order to be able to win chamnpionships and not give up leads in the 4th quarter. Again, not disagreeing with Steelfan, just not upset about 3 stars in this recruiting class.

    [Reply]

  • SteelFanRob commented on July 13th, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    C-Dog,

    Excellent points!

    I esp.liked the point of view about needing complementary or role players, who don’t have to be blue chip recruits. It seems that any great team, in any team sport, has just those kinds of players. Not highly regarded perhaps, but good at what they do to help their team win games.

    Good to have you back on the board!

    Go Irish!!!

    [Reply]

  • C-Dog commented on July 15th, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    I had to endure the 1980’s living in Penn St. Country and so I am sure SteelFan Rob can attest to how that goes.

    But….. A lesson was learned by watching Joe Potato get Penn St. Up in the mix year after year with National Champs and several contenders.

    Joe specifically mixed top talent with character kids. So many farm boys who were just plain tough made a difference for his teams. He has not duplicated that since joining the Big 10, mostly because Eastern football has lost it’s identity. And he just got old. But the concept holds.

    Holtz on the otherhand wanted team speed and quickness. He molded kids who might show up as 3s into 4s and 5s by harnessing speed and also having a really tough training regimen.

    Kelly does have that.

    I think all of us can be comfortable that Kelly is molding this team in all aspects. Balanced recruiting is just one part.

    I am really optimistic about this year.

    [Reply]

    Shazamrock replied on July 15th, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    C-Dog,

    I see a trend where Kelly also recruits kids that are versital, can play multipul posisitons, on either side of the ball.
    Really pays off on special teams, when injurys occur, or loss of depth through graduation.
    If weis needed a cornerback, that’s what he recruited. And if the kid got passed on the depth chart, he would transfer out. Now the kid gets moved to an area of need.
    (a three star player is more willing to do that than some blue chipper)
    Before there was just too much “Revolving door’ going on aound here. Hard to build team unity with that kind of situation.

    [Reply]

  • C-Dog commented on July 15th, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    And thanks for the kinds words.

    [Reply]

  • jack commented on July 17th, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    C-Dog,

    Weiss would shoot for the beat player at every position and if he missed he was never able to build depth. The D-line was an example of him constantly missing and it cost him his job.

    [Reply]

    C-Dog replied on July 21st, 2011 at 6:05 am

    Jack and Shazamrock,
    Yes I would agree with both observations.
    Weis showed that at heart he is an Offensive coordinator. He always boiled the program down to X’s and O’s, not the other apsects that allow you to execute the X’s and O’s. That is why he will do well at Florida back in his old role.

    I think one reason why recruits came and then left is that unlike what Kelly does, Weis only game meaningful time and reps to the 1st string. And he just didn’t know how to compress an 8 hour day for a pro to 2 hours for the collegiate player. And as you say Shazamrock, players not starting left.

    The development of both offensive and defensive lines was pitiful. You got it right Jack when you say it cost him his job. They never coached up the lines and there wasn’t near the dominance once seen under Holtz and now beginning to come back under Kelly. I don’t know that Weis recruiting of linemen was bad, but rather the coaching of linemen an afterthought. He certainly didn’t grab too many dominant D-linemen. But what would you expect with no track record in that regard.

    In any event, Kelly and his staff have responded. 2010 was a year of transition. This year the defense should show dominance. Bob Diaco figured out how to defend the option with the 4-4. And maybe, just maybe the offense will become more consistent with an improved running attack.

    This will be a fun season.

    [Reply]

  • KEV89 commented on July 18th, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    It’s all about the RKG’s. Kelly ID’d that last year. The kids are still developing. To sound like my dad, “let the kids have some fun.” While this may sound a little trite for this level of football, the point I’m making is this: The difference between 3-and-5-star guys is on paper. The difference between a winner and a whiner is attitude. I’m a guy from Boston-area, like coach Kelly. Boston’s pro-sports superiority (all-4 pro-sports champs within 8 years) is almost irrelevant. Almost. At the college-level, you need a hard-working attitude to excel. I’ll take 3-4-star hungry guys (Kelly’s boys) before 5-star prima donna’s (ahem…jimmy clausen…ahem) ANY AND EVERY DAY.

    [Reply]

  • Rich commented on December 16th, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    4 start, 5 star it doesn’t matter until they take their game to the college level. What was very good in high school doesn’t always translate to the college game. The competition at the college level is so much harder.

    [Reply]

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