Okwara Talks About His Irish Pledge

Just last month Romeo Okwara turned 16 years old. On Sunday, he made one of the biggest choices of his life by giving head coach Brian Kelly his pledge to play for Notre Dame. IrishEyes.com spoke with the North Carolina native following his pledge.

Just this week Charlotte (NC) Ardrey Kell High defensive end Romeo Okwara visited Notre Dame unofficially. On Sunday, he gave Brian Kelly the news he wanted here, that Okwara would be part of the Irish Football program.

How did his visit go this past week?

"It was pretty good and I liked it a lot," Okwara said. "I visited Notre Dame with my father and he also loved it there."

At just under 6-foot-5 and weighing 235 pounds, Okwara looks to be a great fit for Bob Diaco's 3-4 defensive scheme. However, it was not football that sold Okwara on being Irish.

"Academically, Notre Dame is just a great school, an outstanding school for academics," he said. "I was interested in picking a school with great academics.

"The first thing that impressed me about Notre Dame was the size of the campus. Notre Dame is a small campus and it will allow for me to concentrate on academics. It has such a great atmosphere."

As for the football part of the decision, a former high school classmate, and the time spent with members of the football team during his visit made the difference.

"Football wise, I was looking to bond with some players and see how I felt around them," Okwara said. "I went to school with Prince Shembo as he graduated about two years ago. So I was with him most of the time I was on my visit."

What did the Irish linebacker tell him about Notre Dame?

"He pretty much showed me around," Okwara said. "He told me it is going to be tough, but you just have to work hard."

Another factor in his decision was the bond he's built with his main recruiter, Irish assistant coach Mike Elston.

"I really like the coaching staff and they seem like great people and the type of people I want to be around," Okwara said. "Coach Elston first came to my school during the spring. He then came back with Coach Diaco and we started talking after that. "Then, I just started to get to know him and I liked the bond we were able to build."

During his visit he also got a chance to speak with Kelly. How was this time with his soon-to-be head coach?

"Coach Kelly is a good guy and I really enjoyed his presence," he said. "We talked for about 15 minutes and he asked me about Notre Dame and I told him I really liked it."

Another person the North Carolina native spoke with was strength coach Paul Longo. What was his impression of the Irish strength coach?

"Coach Longo seemed like a good guy," he said. "I got to watch a workout so he was busy coaching and we did not get a chance to talk a lot."

Another thing he and his family spoke about during the decision process was leaving home. Did this play a factor when making his college choice?

"I know it can be tough," Okwara said, "but you just have to deal with it."

Although listed by Scout.com as a defensive end, Okwara says he'll be lining up at a different position, one that will allow him to make plays.

"I'll be playing outside linebacker at Notre Dame," he said.

Why was Sunday the right time to end his recruitment?

"I just wanted to get the whole thing out of the way," Okwara said. "I found the school I really liked and wanted to commit. I will not be taking any more visits. Right now I'm planning on taking my official visit during the season probably for the USC game."

So what does the newest Irish pledge feel are his strengths and areas in need of improvement?

"I feel I come off the ball fast but know I need to work on my strength," Okwara said."

So with recruiting out of the way, what will Romeo be concentrating on?

"I'm going to get ready for my senior year by getting stronger in the weight room," he said.

And what would he tell Irish fans?

"It's going to be a great season," Okwara said.

IrishEyes.com will continue to stay in contact with Romeo in the coming months until signing day.

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