Bennett Okotcha will be playing with his best friend next year. Just a week after Brian Kelly visited Coppell High School in Texas to offer Okotcha and teammate Cam McDaniel scholarships, Okotcha backed out of his verbal committment to Wisconsin and committed to the Irish, despite never having stepped foot on campus, Irish Illustrated reports.
The first time it was Irving product Jalen Brown at the end of July and Bennett Okotcha did the same Monday when he called outside linebackers coach Kerry Cooks to make a commitment to the Irish after previously pledging to Wisconsin.
“There are a lot of reasons,” Okotcha told Irish Illustrated. “I’ve just been talking to my family and trying to weigh them out. Notre Dame is the school I ended choosing.”
One of the main reasons is Okotcha’s friendship with McDaniels, who committed to Notre Dame just hours after Kelly offered him a scholarship. Okotcha said then that McDaniels decision to attend Notre Dame could influence his decision.
“It definitely helps that Cam decided to go there,” Okotcha said. “He’s one of my best friends. Of course, when you have any friend that goes to the same college as you it’s gonna make things a lot easier. When it’s your best friend it’s a big deal.”
Ultimately, the opportunity to play with his best friend in front of 80,000 fans, while getting a great education, became too much for Okotcha to pass up.
“Definitely education,” Okotcha said of the main factors in his change of heart. “Even though you can get a great education at Wisconsin, I feel like I can get a better education at Notre Dame. I know there’s less people that go to that school. I know whenever I go to a classroom there will be less people and I’ll get to know my teachers better. It just helps me out with my ability to get the best education that I can.”
From a football perspective Notre Dame has some things to offer as well, most specifically the chance to play with McDaniel and a one-of-a-kind game day experience.
Since they entered high school Okotcha and McDaniel have talked about what it would be like to play their college ball together. Now it’s much more reality than fantasy.
“It’s just something we’ve been talking about since we’ve been in high school together,” Okotcha said. “It’s amazing how it comes true. It’s like a dream.”
Okotcha becomes the 19th member of the 2011 Notre Dame recruiting class and the fourth cornerback to commit to play for the Irish. Okotcha is six-feet tall, 175 pounds and he runs a 4.47 40-yard dash. He is a three-star recruit as rated by Rivals, and has received scholarship offers from Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State, among others.
Cam McDaniel had this to say about his buddy: (Irishsportsdaily.com)
“Bennett and I are tremendous friends and ever since our freshman year when I moved to Coppell we worked out together,” McDaniel told ISD. “I think he is one of the top corners in the nation, if not the top corner. I know that is kind of biased coming from my stand point but nobody will throw the ball in his direction. He literally gets bored during games because people are scared to throw it in his direction, it’s amazing.”