Reports: CB Bennett Okotcha flips pledge to Irish

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The Brian Kelly recruiting machine is on a roll, and the Irish just picked up a much needed commitment from defensive back Bennett Okotcha. Okotcha, high school teammates with recent Irish pledge Cam McDaniel, has been committed to Wisconsin since August before flipping his commitment to Notre Dame, the South Bend Tribune and IrishSportsDaily.com report.

Okotcha is a big-bodied cornerback with offers from Wisconsin, Baylor, Minnesota and Wake Forest, and was only recently targeted by Kelly and his staff. All reports say he’ll enter college as a cornerback, a position that’s thin on the depth chart and losing senior Darrin Walls to graduation.

Last week, McDaniel had this to say about Okotcha to 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.”

While McDaniel might be prone to hyperbole when talking about his high school teammate, the sentiment that Okotcha was an elite recruit was likely shared by Kelly and his defensive staff, and his recruitment by Kelly and outside linebackers coach Kerry Cooks sheds some light on the emphasis the Irish will have on targeting the state of Texas.

Cooks is a Texas native and also spent the past four years at Wisconsin, coaching the secondary for Bret Bielema’s Badgers, the team where Okotcha had been committed. While Wisconsin is obviously having a historic season, it isn’t hard to see the draw to Notre Dame, where the depth chart has plenty of room for a guy like Okotcha.

The cornerback is the 19th commitment to the Irish for this recruiting class and third in the past week. Okotcha joins recruits Josh Atkinson, Jalen Brown, Eilar Hardy and potentially Matthias Farley as defensive backs in the 2011 class.