View Full Version : '12 NC DE Romeo Okwara (7/10/11 Notre Dame LOI)

06-02-2011, 07:55 AM
Weakside Defensive End
Charlotte, North Carolina
Ardrey Kell

Links of Interest:


Weight:230 lbs
40:4.7 secs
Bench Max:330
Squat Max:605
Class:2012 (High School)

Rivals Video of Romeo Okwara



Romeo has recently received a verbal offer from ND according to Rivals and ISD. In addition to ND, Remeo holds verbal offers from Clemson, Duke, Georgia Tech, Illinios, Louisville, Maryland, Miami, Minnesota, UNC, North Carolina State, USF, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.

Romeo attends the same high school that produced ND's prince.........Prince Shembo.

http://www.irishsportsdaily.com/recruiting/premium-football-recruiting (free)

Charlotte, N.C., (Ardrey Kell High School) defensive end Romeo Okwara has been receiving verbal offers from some of the top colleges in the nation and, just recently, the talented recruit received another one that he was hoping to get.

“It's true, I have received an offer from Notre Dame,” said Okwara. “Right now, I'm up to about 16 to 17 offers with the Notre Dame offer. I was really happy to get that one.”

The North Carolina prospect has been verbally offered by schools such as Clemson, Duke, Georgia Tech,, Illinois, Louisville, Miami, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Virginia and Wake Forest among others and the Irish offer is very intriguing to him.

“I'm really interested in Notre Dame and everything they have to offer,” said the North Carolina defensive end. “One of the main things I like about them is their academics and I also like that they've been successful at football for a while, especially last year.”

It's easy to see why so many recruiters would love to add the junior to their programs.

“I play hard every single play and give it my all,” said Ardrey Kell star. “If you ever seen me play, you would know I play fast and I playing angry. I believe I had a pretty good season last year. I had 70 tackles, nine sacks, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and a blocked field goal.”

Although a lot of recruits have already started to narrow down their list, Okwara plans to take his time and do his due diligence when researching the programs that have offered him.

“Right now I don't have a top five or 10, but there are a few schools I like,” said the 6-foot-4, 235-pound defensive end. “I'm not sure when I'll narrow my list down, but I'm hoping after I make a few visits I'll be ready at that point.”

What will he be looking for in the schools that make the cut?

“First of all, the school I choose will have to be an academic school,” said the North Carolina standout. “I'll also be looking for a place where I fit in and can quite possibly get some early playing time.”

The Irish have been doing their best to show the talented defender just how much they'd like to add him to their 2012 recruiting class and he has definitely noticed their persistence.

“Notre Dame stopped in to check on me a few weeks ago,” he said. “Coach (Mike) Elston and the defensive coordinator (Bob Diaco) came by to watch me practice. They told my coach that they really liked me and are very interested.”

Even though he's just as interested in the Irish as they are in him, a trip up north is still an unknown at this point, but definitely something he would like to do if everything works out.

“I'm going to try to get up South Bend the summer if I can,” said the talented junior. “I'm just not sure when that will be yet

07-06-2011, 11:43 AM
Okwara unofficially visited UNC late last month, Clemson yesterday and ND in the next day or two with his father. Okwara also stated ND, UNC and Clemson are his current "main schools" they are the three currently recruiting him the hardest.

07-10-2011, 08:49 PM
From ISD's Twitter:

ISDUpdate Irish Sports Daily
Notre Dame gains another commitment in NC DE Romeo Okwara. Head to IrishSportsDaily.com for more.

07-10-2011, 09:00 PM
Welcome aboard!!!!

07-10-2011, 09:04 PM
Welcome...outside LB one more spot left

07-10-2011, 09:09 PM
Did not see this one coming... Welcome Welcome...

PS...w e need a rosted/recruiting breakdown by position

07-10-2011, 09:17 PM
Fits the bill size and speed, plus shembo's teamate. If he plays like prince, could be a steal.

07-10-2011, 10:00 PM
Fits the bill size and speed, plus shembo's teamate. If he plays like prince, could be a steal.He's one for the future, he's got great upside from what I understand but is a bit of a project, oh and he's only 15 years old entering his senior season.

07-10-2011, 10:03 PM
15 yrs old


07-10-2011, 11:47 PM
He is 16 years old. Just turned 16 a month ago. He is raw, but has phenomenal upside. Has a motor and super size and strength for his age. Will most likely play LB, but he is only 16 so you never know if he could grow into a DE. My favorite part of his game is that he controls the blocker and pursues the correct way (inside or outside) at the rb or qb.

Purebred Irishman
07-11-2011, 03:38 AM
Welcome to the ND family Romeo...

Purebred Irishman
07-11-2011, 03:44 AM

Romeo Okwara held an anti-press conference to announce his college decision on Sunday. Instead of playing the hat game, Okwara posted his Notre Dame commitment on his Facebook page.

The three-star defender posted “Committed to Notre Dame!” on his wall, in effect breaking his own news.

Okwara confirmed the commitment with Irish Illustrated via text message as he became the 12th verbal pledge in Notre Dame’s ’12 recruiting class and the second outside linebacker.

Okwara’s father Julius also confirmed the commitment late Sunday night.

“We wanted to make sure to get that done,” said Julius Okwara. “You go to so many schools that the more you go to you get confused. Notre Dame was a beautiful school. They have a good business school. That impressed me too.”

Okwara visited Notre Dame on July 7 alongside his father for a first look at the Irish program, which includes former Ardrey Kell teammate Prince Shembo at a similar position the latest standout from the Charlotte program would play in South Bend. Okwara left campus with Notre Dame firmly among his leaders alongside North Carolina, Clemson and Virginia Tech, with plans to return to the Irish for an official visit.

“It was good, I really liked it,” Okwara told Irish Illustrated less than 48 hours before making his commitment. “I had fun with the players and they seem like really good guys. They told me they liked to be there and to play for their coaches. I really liked that a lot.”

Okwara said Note Dame told him the target was three outside linebackers in this class with one commitment already on board in Perkins. He said he planned to wait on making a commitment until during his senior season.

Still, the Irish made a strong impression on Okwara before he heading back to North Carolina on Friday night.

“I knew (Notre Dame) was a great academic school and I was expecting to hear a lot about that,” Okwara said. “The more I found out about it, I really liked it a lot. Mostly I’ll remember the atmosphere and what the players were like.”

And now Okwara will be one of them.

07-11-2011, 08:17 AM
Yet another intriguing commitment with unique upside under BK. I see a potential red shirt on age alone.

07-11-2011, 10:52 AM
From Keith Arnold at the nbc irish site:

Okwara’s pledge makes a dozen recruits for 2012

Keith Arnold

Jul 11, 2011, 12:58 AM EDT
Leave a comment
Romeo Okwara

If Romeo Okwara can step onto campus and make the same type of impact as the last linebacker from Ardrey Kell High School, Brian Kelly and Bob Diaco are going to be very happy.

As rumors swirled around other more familiar names in the recruiting derby this weekend, Romeo Okwara, who hails from the same high school as sophomore linebacker Prince Shembo, stole some of the headlines and committed to the Irish, making the announcement via his Facebook page en lieu of a press conference.

The Charlotte, North Carolina native is the twelfth recruit to commit to Notre Dame for the 2012 class, and he’s right out of central casting for the Irish when it comes to outside linebackers. At 6-foot-4, 235-pounds, Okwara has the build to become a prototype outside linebacker in the Irish system, a position the coaching staff sees him slotting into.

Okwara spent this weekend in South Bend, visiting with former teammate and family friend Shembo as well as getting the full pitch from head coach Brian Kelly and the current players. According to IrishIllustrated.com, Okwara said the coaching staff was going to bring in three outside linebackers, and Okwara joins David Perkins as the first two to pull the trigger.

If you watch tape of Okwara, it’s clear the Irish see pass rushing ability in him, as just about every inch of tape has Okwara playing with a hand on the ground and wreaking havoc in an opposing offense’s backfield. Okwara continues a good trend for the Irish, pulling good players out of the Carolinas. His offer list is filled with Southeastern schools, with every major program in North Carolina offering, as well as offers from Miami, Michigan, Virginia Tech and Clemson on board. H/T to Irish message-board oracle Hobbs, who notes that Okwara is an absolute perfect fit for a 3-4 defense, with Al Groh at Georgia Tech, Mike London at Virginia, Al Golden at Miami, and Bob Diaco at Notre Dame all chasing Okwara, with each of those defenses holding the same philosophies, passed down from Groh, one of the forefathers of the 3-4 defense.

There are reports that Okwara just turned 16 last week, which would lead you to believe he’s not done growing yet and could turn into a monstrous player. He’ll be a great developmental prospect at Cat linebacker, where the Irish are stockpiling a pretty diverse set of passing rushing talent to fill in after Darius Fleming graduates.

07-11-2011, 01:11 PM
Given his age and size, I don't see how he doesn't end up as a DE.

I see what you are saying but not everyone puts on 50 or 60 pounds in college. He may only grow an inch and put on 25lbs, which would put him as a very athletic 6'5 260lb linebacker. He could go either way, his frame could already be mostly filled out.

07-11-2011, 02:27 PM
Great upside and we have the perfect staff to develop that potential. I agree with the redshirt talk though due to his age.

07-11-2011, 03:32 PM
Welcome aboard.....I love the trend of family oriented players. Meaning they have family members that are playing an active role in their recruiting. Active in a good way! :bottomsup:

07-12-2011, 10:44 AM
Welcome aboard Romeo and family.

07-12-2011, 11:02 AM

With a depth chart that loses one starter following the 2011 season but adds a lot of freshman talent this fall, outside linebacker was considered a mid-level recruiting need for Notre Dame in the 2012 cycle.

Notre Dame late Sunday received a commitment from a player who falls under the “potential” category when Romeo Okwara of Charlotte, N.C., picked ND. The 6-foot-4, 235-pound Okwara also has offers from Miami, Pitt, Wake Forest, North Carolina and North Carolina State, among others.

Okwara joins South Bend Washington’s David Perkins as outside linebacker commitments in the 2012 group.

“Two guys that could develop,” is how CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming describes the additions of Okwara and Perkins.

One of the players Okwara could be joining on the field or pushing for future playing time is sophomore Prince Shembo, who graduated from the same high school - Ardrey Kell in Charlotte - where Okwara will be a senior this fall.

Shembo is a strong candidate to fill the starting spot at Notre Dame’s “Dog” or drop linebacker position after recording 4.5 sacks in limited minutes last season.

Okwara runs the 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds, according to Rivals.com. His combination of size and speed no doubt helped him record nine sacks last season.

“A good athlete,” said Lemming, who rates Okwara a three-star player. “He’s a good player.”

Okwara could not be reached for comment, and Ardrey Kell coach Adam Hastings was not immediately available.

NCAA rules prohibit Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly from publicly commenting on a recruit until the player has signed a national letter-of-intent.

Purebred Irishman
08-15-2011, 11:42 AM

Notre Dame got more than a great player when Romeo Okwara of Charlotte, N.C. committed to the Irish last month, according to Ardrey Kell High School head coach Adam Hastings.

The 6-foot-5, 235-pound Okwara chose the Irish over offers from Clemson, Duke, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Louisville, Maryland, Miami, Minnesota, North Carolina, N.C. State, Pittsburgh, South Florida, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest.

“Romeo is obviously a big kid, he’s 6-5, 235 right now,” Hastings said. “He has very long arms. He’s an explosive player. He was all-conference, all-county as a junior. He got a lot of accolades for the year.”

But Okwara’s talents extend beyond the playing field, according to Hastings.

“He’s a great kid,” said Hastings. “He’s a good student. He’s a team leader and a really hard worker in the weight room. He’s one of our strongest guys on our team. He’s a 365-pound hang-cleaner, over 600 pounds in the squat. He has a 35-inch vertical. He’s a 4.8, 4.7 kid 40-wise. He just turned 16 about a month ago, so he’s very young. The sky’s the limit for him.

“He’s a leader on our team. People look up to him and he’s just a good kid. He’s a cornerstone of our program.”

Okwara committed to the Irish as an outside linebacker/defensive end and Hastings believes he’ll be a great fit.

“That’s going to be interesting to see where Notre Dame takes him,” he said. “I know Notre Dame had interest in him playing outside linebacker, so it’ll be interesting to see how he fits in with that. I definitely think he has the range and the motor to play outside linebacker.”

Hastings wasn’t surprised by the decision Okwara made or when he made it.

“I know that academics was the number one thing in his decision,” the head coach said. “We have a former player at Notre Dame right now in Prince Shembo, he was able to give him an ease about going so far away. The athletics and academic prestige at Notre Dame definitely played a big part in it.”

10-15-2011, 06:52 PM
Chosen to be in the 2012 NC Shrine Bowl

10-15-2011, 09:32 PM
Congrats !!! Wreck em Romeo!!!

11-16-2011, 08:57 PM
Senior Highlights..


11-29-2011, 09:11 AM
Okwara finished the year with 87 tackles, 15 sacks, 19 quarterback hurries, three pass deflections, a pair of forced fumbles and a blocked field goal. Sounds good enough for a 4th Star.

11-29-2011, 09:38 AM
Okwara finished the year with 87 tackles, 15 sacks, 19 quarterback hurries, three pass deflections, a pair of forced fumbles and a blocked field goal. Sounds good enough for a 4th Star.

A nine year old 4 star ;) I exaggerate how young he is, but there seems to be lots of potential here.

11-29-2011, 01:19 PM
I just don't get it when it comes to Rivals. Audrey Kell plays in the toughest division in Charlotte. The quality of competition is on a par with other major markets. Romeo is rated as the top defensive player in the greater Charlotte area and dominated game after game forcing continuous double teams and still managed 15 sacks and 19 QB hurries. Kid is only 16 and won't be 17 until late summer. Already close to 6'5 and 245 with enormous upside yet gets no recognition.

11-29-2011, 01:51 PM
I just don't get it when it comes to Rivals. Audrey Kell plays in the toughest division in Charlotte. The quality of competition is on a par with other major markets. Romeo is rated as the top defensive player in the greater Charlotte area and dominated game after game forcing continuous double teams and still managed 15 sacks and 19 QB hurries. Kid is only 16 and won't be 17 until late summer. Already close to 6'5 and 245 with enormous upside yet gets no recognition.

Good. Let him come here and dominate and have the SEC/ACC wondering how he ended up here for the next 4 years.

11-29-2011, 03:31 PM
Good. Let him come here and dominate and have the SEC/ACC wondering how he ended up here for the next 4 years.

Oh I like that!


Purebred Irishman
11-30-2011, 06:18 AM
Okwara Keeps Close Tabs On Irish (http://www.irishsportsdaily.com/recruiting/notre-dame-football-recruiting/6041-okwara-keeps-close-tabs-on-irish)

Romeo Okwara keeps a low profile when it comes to the recruiting process, but the Charlotte, N.C., (Ardrey Kell) linebacker hasn’t been shy when it’s come to seeing Notre Dame in action this fall.

The Notre Dame verbal commit took an unofficial visit to South Bend to see the Irish play USC last month.

“I really enjoyed it,” the 6-foot-4, 235-pounder said of his first trip to campus since a summer visit that ultimately led to his verbal commitment. “It was a great atmosphere. I love the game day feeling at South Bend and it was really fun.”

Okwara made sure he was in Winston-Salem with another Notre Dame commitment when the Irish played at Wake Forest earlier this month.

“It was pretty fun to see them play in my home state,” he said. “I had fun at the game with Mark Harrell.”

Okwara and Harrell, who is also from Charlotte and was also at Notre Dame for the USC game, didn’t know each before the linebacker committed, but they’ve been working on building that bond.

“We’ve been really close since I committed,” Okwara said of himself and Harrell. “We talk all of the time and we got to take some visits together.”

Okwara’s third chance to see the Irish in person came a week after the Wake Forest game when he watched Notre Dame beat Maryland at FedEx Field.

“It was a pretty fun game to watch,” he said. “I had never been to the Redskins’ stadium and never been to Washington, so it was a pretty good trip.”

Okwara found time to make the three trips between his own senior season at Ardrey Kell, which ended with a loss to Mallard Creek in the second round of the state playoffs.

“We had a good season,” he said. “I felt really good about my senior year. Obviously it didn’t end the way we wanted it to, but we got really far and did a lot of good things.”

Okwara finished the year with 87 tackles, 15 sacks, 19 quarterback hurries, three pass deflections, a pair of forced fumbles and a blocked field goal. “I think I played pretty good,” he said.

Okwara will host Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly and Irish assistant Mike Denbrock for an in-home visit on Wednesday. He will get the chance to return to South Bend again soon as he plans on taking his official visit in January.

“It’s just a great school,” he said. “It was a great pick overall and I really love everything about it. There’s really no flaw to it. I get along good with the players and the coaches. They seem like good people, so I thought it was the best fit for me.”

Now that his senior season is over, Okwara is anxious to get to Notre Dame for good.

“I’m really excited,” he said. “I can’t wait. It’s going to be a new experience and I’m going to meet a lot of new people and that should be fun.”

11-30-2011, 06:27 AM
out of all the commits ND has, which ones are gonna be EE? the only one i know of is Tee.

12-19-2011, 04:37 PM

12-19-2011, 05:44 PM
Romeo Okwara's Shrine Bowl Highlights - YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRVAxaFLO2E&feature=g-u&context=G21394a1FUAAAAAAADAA)

: )

/\ - what my face looks like when watching the linked highlights. I think he may be the next version of Tuitt and Lynch with some Shembo mixed in. Depends on his development pre and post Diaco.

12-19-2011, 06:05 PM
Seems bigger than 230

12-24-2011, 10:54 AM
Romeo Okwara was named to the "All Mecklenburg" first team and was also named the All Mecklenburg Defensive Player of the year. His bio is as follows:

"DL: Romeo Okwara, Ardrey Kell, 6-5, 230: Led team with 76 tackles, 14 sacks, and 27 tackles for loss. Also had 28 QB pressures, 3 pass breakups, a forced fumble and a FG block. Two-time first team All-Meck pick is a Shrine Bowler and Notre Dame recruit."

01-05-2012, 05:59 PM
Okwara became the total package as a senior | South Charlotte Weekly (http://www.thecharlotteweekly.com/sports/2012/01/okwara-became-the-total-package-as-a-senior/)

Defensive Player of the Year
by Aaron Garcia

Recording 70 tackles and nine sacks is a heck of a year for a high school defensive end. It certainly did the trick for Ardrey Kell’s Romeo Okwara, who, after recording those stats as a junior in 2010, emerged as one of the state’s elite pass rushers and gained national recruiting attention before committing to Notre Dame.

But this season, Okwara aimed to make himself more than a pass rusher, opting instead to transform into the most disruptive defender in south Charlotte football. The 6-foot-5, 235-pound Okwara said he worked on improving his ability to diagnose offensive plays, and prided himself on “getting to the ball every play and not stopping,” no matter who had the ball.

Okwara excelled at the approach. The senior recorded 76 tackles, 27 of which were for a loss. Okwara also broke up three passes, forced a fumble and blocked a potential game-tying field goal that ensured a win over South Mecklenburg. Coaches around the state noticed his performance and named him to the 2011 Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas all-star game.

“I did better at (defending the run) this year than last year,” Okwara said. “I feel like last year I just tried to get to the quarterback, but I tried to play a little bit slower this year, I guess you could say. That helped me make a lot more plays.”

For his multi-faceted impact on the Knights’ defense, Okwara has been named Carolina Weekly Newspaper Group’s 2011 Southern Mecklenburg Defensive Player of the Year.

Okwara still recorded 14 sacks and 18 quarterback hurries, so perhaps the term “slower” should be replaced by “more controlled.”

“I think I got better at that through our (team) workouts,” said Okwara. “All the moves (assistant coach Greg) Jachym taught me helped me be a better player.”

But Okwara hasn’t lost sight of the impact he had as a full-steam-ahead edge rusher, both on the opposing quarterbacks and the players charged with keeping the signal-callers on their feet. It became common to see Okwara power through – or around – an opposing lineman. And whether Okwara’s opponent was left grasping at air or picking himself up from the turf, the impact usually was the same.

“When you hit the quarterback, it sends a message to him, and that really helps your team,” Okwara said. “As a defense, that’s what we typically try to do. You try to mess the offense up as much as possible.”

06-27-2012, 05:36 PM
Romeo Okwara ‏@RomeoAK33
Longo beach is actually pretty fun #goodworkout
6:33 PM - 27 Jun 12

08-08-2012, 08:54 PM
Sounds like he's ENJOYING Longo Beach and whatever is thrown his way. He's a big cat OLB at 17 year old. Where does he line up next season? DE? 4-3 DE? He's a physical stud and he might outgrow the LB role. Even still, he'd be 3rd string behind Shembo and iShaq.

08-09-2012, 07:16 AM
I doubt anyone knows for sure. most likely he'll sit on the bench this year (maybe special teams). His position will depend on how much he grows and who ND recruits around him. we'll just have to watch and see.

08-14-2012, 07:01 AM
Okwara Set 'To Help The Team'
Tuesday, 14 August 2012 05:42 Sean Stires


NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Romeo Okwara would make Crash Davis proud. Remember the scene from the movie “Bull Durham” when Kevin Costner’s character, Crash, gives young pitching prodigy Nuke LaLoosh, played by Tim Robbins, a list of clichés to use when speaking to reporters?

We gotta play it one day at a time.

I’m just happy to be here. Hope that I can help the ball club.

I just want to give it my best shot, and the good Lord willing, things will work out.

Crash coached Nuke up with his clichés and eventually the young pitching prodigy was able to use them.

Okwara, a freshman linebacker for the Irish, had his first face to face with the media inside the Guglielmino Athletics Complex and his answers had the same coached up feel.

The tone was set with Okwara’s response to the very first simple question.

How are things going so far?

“They’re going pretty good,” Okwara softly and politely responded. “Doing what we can to help the team.”

Help the team. Ok, innocent enough. This young guy, who just turned 17 in June by the way, is a team guy. You gotta like that. He’s just a little nervous maybe, but he’ll start getting warmed up as we get going. Right?

You started at Cat Linebacker, but moved to Dog. Talk about those positions and the adjustment you have to make.

“They’re actually pretty similar it’s just that one’s on the other side,” Okwara said of the two linebacker spots. “So I’m just doing what I can to help the team. I don’t really care where they move me.”

Hmmmm, starting to sense a little bit of a trend here. Where do we go from here?

What was Saturday like for you? Coach Kelly was in here and said you guys scrimmaged a lot of 2s and 3s (on the depth chart). It sounded like you got a lot of work in Saturday’s practice.

“He’s throwing a lot of guys in there and just seeing what we can do,” the freshman responded of his weekend reps. “Right now we’re just working hard and just trying the best we can.”

So, now he’s moving down the list. It’s still not overly original, but at least he’s keeping things fresh…or is he?

What makes your skills unique?

“I’m just doing what I can to help the team right now. Just going hard on every play,” Okwara responded with nether a hint of a smirk or smile on his face nor sarcasm in his voice. Give him credit; the kid is sticking to his guns on this.

With the injury to Danny Spond you’ve moved up the depth chart pretty quickly. If the season started tomorrow how ready do you think you would be to play?

“I’m just getting better every day,” Okwara deadpanned. “This is a new position to me, so I’m just doing what I can right now at practice.”

Did you think you would be in the two-deep depth chart this quickly?

“Coming in I just said I was gonna try as hard as I can and if I go on the field that’s good but, as I said, I’m just coming and going hard every play.”

You get the picture. It wasn’t the most overly forth coming interview you will ever hear or read, but Okwara never broke character.

The 6’4, 239 pound linebacker was actually a defensive end in high school that is now getting used to moving in a little different direction when the ball is snapped. He never had pass coverage responsibilities in high school, so that is something he is working on and something that he did actually shed a little light on.

“I think I’m pretty comfortable,” he said of his developing pass coverage skills. “Better than the first time, so I’m getting a little better.”

Okwara said he worked over the summer with some of the veteran linebackers on dropping into coverage, while Defensive Coordinator Bob Diaco has helped him develop there since practice began a little over a week ago. He’s made strides so quickly that Irish Head Coach Brian Kelly said recently that Okwara’s “long” frame has helped him do a “good job” in pass coverage.

“The more I’m at the position the game gets a little slower,” Okwara said of his Dog Linebacker responsibilities. “So it gets a little better every time.”

Other than that, the most revealing thing to come out of Okwara’s media debut was his friendship with current Irish linebacker Prince Shembo, who was also a teammate at Ardrey Kell High School in North Carolina.

“He was over at my house and I was over at his house, so we knew each other for a while,” the freshman said of the junior who was in the same class as Okwara’s older brother in high school.

Just a little more than a week into his college career we don’t know a lot about Romeo Okwara, but we do know at least two things” 1. He’s going to play hard and 2. He wants to help the team.

That can’t be a bad thing.


08-19-2012, 08:30 AM
It's nice to have a linebacker with the skill set of Fleming but the size to make a difference in doing it too. Not to create expectations for the 17 year old, but you could tell that Fleming had some real ability, but kept getting engulfed being 6'1" and having pretty short arms. Not the case with this guy.

08-19-2012, 09:19 AM
Why joe bolden was hard to turn away from. Just too short.

10-29-2012, 11:51 AM
Did anyone else notice Romeo in at the end of OU game? Was that his first action this year, and is his year of eligibility no longer preserved?

10-29-2012, 11:58 AM
Did anyone else notice Romeo in at the end of OU game? Was that his first action this year, and is his year of eligibility no longer preserved?

If you play at this point of the season your eligibility is used for the year. I believe he has been getting spot duty leading up to the OU game. He looks poised to break through it seems.

10-29-2012, 12:04 PM
He has also participated in all 8 games according to the NCAA stats, but the tackle on Williams was the first time he made the stat sheet. Pretty memorable first tackle I would say.

10-29-2012, 12:12 PM
Thanks guys. I hadn't recalled seeing him in action yet.

Domer Dog
10-29-2012, 01:46 PM
He has also participated in all 8 games according to the NCAA stats, but the tackle on Williams was the first time he made the stat sheet. Pretty memorable first tackle I would say.

I was trying to figure out who that was that made the hit. It was quite a smash. Finally noticed Ishaq getting into the mix and hitting people as well.

10-29-2012, 10:15 PM
Always notice him on special teams. Kid is huge and young for a frosh

10-30-2012, 08:18 AM
I re-played this hit three times the next day - and it was BIG TIME! This hit is what started the whole trash talking from OU to our players. In fact, as players started to come around the OU player laying on the field to see if he was all right, TIUS (sic?) used his helmet to shield Teo and even shooed him away from his player. Then he started talking smack. I could not believe my eyes. Re-watch this and you will see what I am talking about. Then the next 2 minutes were UGLY and OU never got back in the endzone which only added insult to injury (no pun intended).

I was trying to figure out who that was that made the hit. It was quite a smash. Finally noticed Ishaq getting into the mix and hitting people as well.

10-30-2012, 08:24 AM
I re-played this hit three times the next day - and it was BIG TIME! This hit is what started the whole trash talking from OU to our players. In fact, as players started to come around the OU player laying on the field to see if he was all right, TIUS (sic?) used his helmet to shield Teo and even shooed him away from his player. Then he started talking smack. I could not believe my eyes. Re-watch this and you will see what I am talking about. Then the next 2 minutes were UGLY and OU never got back in the endzone which only added insult to injury (no pun intended).

It was Kenny Stills. I rewatched the game Sunday morning and he was talking smack the entire game, but I didn't think too much of it ... just normal smack talk. But it got really bad at the point you're tlaking about where he was shooing Manti away with his helmet. He acted like a classless punk and I was really happy he was denied that last minute touchdown twice.

10-30-2012, 08:33 AM
Stills - yeah sorry about that one. I thought I had his name wrong. I was too busy hurling expletives at the TV to call him by his real name. When I saw him doing that to Manti, I was shocked. But then again - why should I have been shocked? They are not used to losing at home and they feel like they had two close calls go against them. I guess the anger is to be expected. I am just glad our players didn't take the bait and get some stupid personal foul calls. In the past, that certainly could have happened.....

11-02-2012, 10:09 PM

11-04-2012, 09:23 AM
He looked like the only guy out there that wanted to make plays on kick coverage yesterday. He's growing on me - kinda gives me the same feeling I had watching Bennett Jackson as a frosh. Just know he's gonna be a good player for us.

Purebred Irishman
10-10-2014, 08:28 AM

11-20-2015, 04:25 PM
[video if you make the jump]

Okwara out on a high note


In his final year Romeo Okwara has developed from an anonymous defensive end to threatening Notre Dame’s single-season sack record. And that’s not the most interesting part of his story.

This story is about the ukulele, long boards and Christopher Nolan movies. It’s also about Lenny Kravitz, Lisa Bonet and the campus library at Texas Southern. But mostly it’s about Romeo Okwara, the defensive end who will hit Fenway Park as arguably the biggest surprise within a Notre Dame season full of them.

After three years of anonymity that went beyond statistics, Okwara has unlocked the kind of curious potential that comes in 6-foot-4, 270-pound packages that play their senior seasons at 20-years old. The fact Okwara is threatening Notre Dame’s single-season sack record – Justin Tuck holds it at 13.5 – ranks among the least interesting things about him.

“Each and every day since I got here I’ve been working hard to get to where I am now,” Okwara said. “It’s always a constant grind.”

Last spring break Okwara tagged along with Corey Robinson to Hawaii, where he learned to play the ukulele. Last summer he studied in Greece, where he gave a presentation on the Elgin Marbles, sculptures that were part of the original Parthenon.

On Saturday night he’ll play in front of three cousins who helped Okwara get from Nigeria to North Carolina to South Bend.

In that branch of the Okwara family tree Obi attended Harvard, Amma played soccer at M.I.T. and Toby is a freshman offensive lineman at Brown. Their father, Dr. Benedict Okwara, lives in Charlotte, N.C., which drew his brother Julius there almost a decade ago when it was time for Romeo and his younger brother Julian, an Irish verbal commitment, to start their American educations in middle school.

Julius wanted his sons to play football because he couldn’t. As a foreign college student at Texas Southern, Julius was a 260-pound athlete still wired for soccer. But football intrigued him, so much that he approached the school’s coach for a tryout. The coach asked how much Julius knew about the sport. Julius admitted to complete naiveté. He expected instruction. Instead, the coach told Julius to go to the library and read up on the sport.

He declined.

“My dream, no matter what, was for my kids to do the same sport,” Julius said. “When we came here Romeo’s age was young but he was a bigger size. The schools tested him and said they couldn’t take him down a grade, he was too smart.”

Because he received private tutoring in math and science in Nigeria, Romeo arrived in North Carolina for the sixth grade so far ahead academically that Julius said the school could have put him in seventh.

And that’s how Notre Dame ended up with a 17-year old freshman linebacker who looked the part even though he probably should have red-shirted. Okwara barely played that fall and Brian Kelly admitted he might do things differently in retrospect, although Okwara saw the field in the BCS National Championship Game that year.

Now Okwara is set to graduate Notre Dame in December – he’ll turn 21 in May – with a degree in accounting and eyes on investment banking and the NFL.

Either profession feels clinical for a defensive end named after something more passionate. While studying at Texas Southern, Julius was struck by the music of Lenny Kravitz and his marriage to actress Lisa Bonet. At that point Kravitz went by Romeo Blue and the name stuck for his second son.

“I was fascinated by his love story with Lisa Bonet,” Julius said. “And I liked the music. It was romantic.”

Romeo said he’s grown to like Kravitz’s music, part of his personal palate that includes Christopher Nolan and Wes Anderson movies, plus long boarding around campus. There’s the ukulele too, which Okwara played with Robinson on a bench at Culver Academies during training camp. All that diversity actually runs counter to what’s made the senior such a standout under first-year defensive line coach Keith Gilmore.

Instead of wanting Okwara to expand his game as Notre Dame hunted for a pass rush, Gilmore demanded less. In reality, the Irish just needed something off the edge from Okwara. It couldn’t be a replay of the three silent seasons before, production so faint that defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder said his first reaction to watching Okwara pass rush was, “Oh my God.”

He did not mean it as a compliment.

Gilmore spent the summer drilling techniques and hand placement. He cut down Okwara’s inventory of pass rush moves. The results are getting Okwara around the quarterback and the football more.

There was the diving sack last weekend against Wake Forest when Okwara hurdled a running back to take out quarterback John Wolford. Okwara showed natural power too early in the second half when he drove the left tackle straight into running back Tyler Bell. Okwara couldn’t make the stop, but he disrupted Bell enough that Jaylon Smith cleaned him up for a two-yard loss.

“He seems to have adapted to ‘less is more’ from Keith’s teaching,” Kelly said. “Sometimes it’s a connection and when we ask less of him in terms of technique and what we wanted him to focus on, it’s really helped him a lot and he’s blossomed because of it.”

Unfortunately for Notre Dame it gets this Okwara for just two more regular season games. But these late developments could also make the difference between making the College Football Playoff and not.

Turns out the most interesting man in Notre Dame’s defense isn’t the future first-round pick at linebacker, the mama’s boy defensive tackle or the walk-on linebacker turned captain. It’s the Nigerian who grew up shy because of his accent. It’s the senior with a literary name that has a musical soul. It’s also the defensive end challenging for the school’s single-season sack record.

“I’m definitely feeling more comfortable,” Okwara said. “I bounced around a lot since I've gotten here. This defense for the second year, just knowing the defense a lot better, it kind of gives you a sense of freedom.

“Just knowing what to do lets you play a lot faster.”

For Romeo Okwara, it’s just in time.