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Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Top OU-Notre Dame recruiting battles

By Brandon Chatmon

As Oklahoma begins to recruit more and more in the Midwest, the Sooners undoubtedly will end up going head-to-head for several recruits in the near future. It’s already happening in the Class of 2013.

But it’s not the first time.

The Sooners and Irish have gone head-to-head for recruits several times in the past decade. A closer look at some of those battles:

Matt Romine
Former Tulsa Union star Matt Romine went on to play for Notre Dame before finishing his college career at Tulsa.
" Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (Oklahoma City/Southeast), Class of 2006

McCoy took a visit to Notre Dame and loved it before finally announcing his commitment to OU in February. He joined George West, the Oklahoma City, Okla./Northeast prep star who was committed to the Irish, on his visit but found the lure of playing in Norman too strong to ignore. Generally regarded as one of the nation’s top recruits, McCoy was ranked No. 21 in the ESPN 150.

After a redshirt season, McCoy was dominant in three seasons with the Sooners, earning All-American honors twice before becoming the No. 3 pick in the 2010 NFL draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

" Center Gabe Ikard (Oklahoma City/Bishop McGuinness), Class of 2009

The Irish finished No. 3 in the race for Ikard’s signature behind OU and Stanford. A standout tight end in high school, Ikard took a visit to South Bend when the Irish took on Michigan in a game that saw former Irish coach Charlie Weis tear his ACL and MCL when he was run into while coaching on the sideline.

Ikard had strong interest in Notre Dame but the uncertainty with regards to Weis and the rest of the Irish coaching staff [Weis was fired in December 2009] along with the chance to play at OU, his childhood favorite, secured Ikard’s decision to wear crimson and cream.

Ikard is currently the anchor of OU’s offensive line at center after earning All-Big 12 honors as a sophomore in 2011.

" Tackle Matt Romine (Tulsa, Okla./Union), Class of 2007

OU was among several schools who finished behind the Irish in the race to sign Romine, who was No. 85 in the ESPN 150 in 2007. He took official visits to ND, OU, Michigan and Miami (Fla.) during the recruiting process.

After medically redshirting following an injury in the third game of his true freshman year, Romine played in 24 games for the Irish before transferring to Tulsa as a graduate student in 2011 to complete his final year of eligibility with his hometown school.

" Defensive back Bennett Okotcha (Coppell, Texas/Coppell), Class of 2011

Okotcha was committed to Notre Dame before OU swooped in and swiped him off the Irish’s commit list. A late switch by TCU receiver Brandon Carter, from the Sooners to the Horned Frogs, opened up a spot for Okotcha, who was committed to Wisconsin early in the recruiting process then switched to Notre Dame before finally settling on the Sooners.

Okotcha redshirted in 2011, missed the spring due to a shoulder injury and then left the program in August. He was recruited by OU’s previous defensive backs coach, Willie Martinez, and never really seemed to fit into the plans of new defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach Mike Stoops after he took over OU’s defense in January. Okotcha is currently sitting out a season at the University of Texas at San Antonio.