Oklahoma Sooners: Bennett Okotcha

Grading the class: 2011

February, 5, 2014
Oklahoma is poised to add several recruits into the fold on Wednesday with an eye on creating the foundation of a future championship squad. Yet, recruiting is an inexact science as some projected stars rise to meet those high expectations while others struggle to make a difference in the Big 12. Thus, it’s the perfect time to look back at OU’s past five recruiting classes. On Wednesday, we begin with a review of the Class of 2011 including recruits who exceeded expectations, recruits who were solid signees and ones who were complete busts.

There was a lot of hope for this class when these players signed in February 2011, but the class as a whole has let down the Sooners. The class was ranked No. 11 nationally by ESPN.com.

Transcendent figures

Linebacker Franklin Shannon: The No. 48 safety in the nation, Shannon made an immediate impact after a redshirt season. He forced his way onto the field as a redshirt freshman in 2012 and led OU in tackles as a sophomore in 2013. Shannon started in 15 games in his first two seasons and has 132 tackles, including 10.5 tackles for loss, heading into his junior year.


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Jackson Laizure/Getty ImagesDefensive tackle Jordan Phillips is one of the few players who has panned out from Oklahoma's 2011 recruiting class.
Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips: Phillips was emerging as a major force in the middle of the Sooners defense before a back injury this season. The No. 119 player in the ESPN 150 in 2011, Phillips has the talent to exceed expectations if he returns to full health.

Defensive tackle Jordan Wade: He replaced the other Jordan after a grayshirt season, and then redshirted in 2012. As a redshirt freshman in 2013, Wade was one of the heroes of OU’s 11-win season as he stepped in for Phillips and held his own in the middle of OU’s defense. The No. 103 player in the ESPN 150, Wade has a bright future ahead of him.

Completely missed the mark

Offensive lineman Nathan Hughes: The No. 101 player in the ESPN 150, Hughes played several positions before leaving the program before the 2013 season.

Running back Brandon Williams: The No. 35 player in the ESPN 150, Williams made an impact as a freshman but elected to transfer to Texas A&M after his first season.

Running back Danzel Williams: The No. 64 player in the ESPN 150, Williams redshirted in 2011, then left the program before the 2013 season. He never made an impact for the Sooners.

Overall grade: D-

More than half of this class is no longer in the program, including both Williams, Hughes, receiver Trey Metoyer, receiver Kameel Jackson, quarterback Kendal Thompson, linebacker Kellen Jones and defensive back Bennett Okotcha. Only Shannon and a pair of Jordans kept this class from being an F in one of the worst classes of the Bob Stoops era.
A glimpse at the attrition rate at the University of Oklahoma removes the fog hovering over some of the major question marks the Sooners face heading into 2013. OU has had some ill-timed departures, forcing the Sooners to rework their recruiting game plan with the hope of having a balanced roster heading into the upcoming season.

Top OU-Notre Dame recruiting battles 

October, 23, 2012
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:

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Redshirt freshman defensive back Bennett Okotcha has left the Sooners football team, a spokesperson confirmed to SoonerNation on Tuesday morning.

Okotcha was rated the No. 50 cornerback in the country according to ESPN coming out of Coppell (Texas) High School. Okotcha originally committed to Notre Dame, but switched to the Sooners days before signing day.

After redshirting last year, Okotcha began to turn heads during the winter workouts. Teammate Kameel Jackson even tweeted that Okotcha was going to be “the next Ed Reed.” Okotcha, however, suffered a shoulder injury and sat out in the spring. This preseason, he failed to climb up the depth chart.
Over the summer months, SoonerNation will take a closer look at each scholarship player on Oklahoma’s roster in our Crimson Countdown series. We'll analyze each player’s impact on the program since they arrived on campus, their potential impact this fall and their long-term impact in the daily series. Starting with No. 1 Tony Jefferson, the series will go in numerical order until our final analysis of No. 98 Chuka Ndulue.

No. 11 Bennett Okotcha
Defensive back, 5-foot-11, 168 pounds

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Triple option: 5 players to watch 

March, 2, 2012
Every weekday morning, a member of the SoonerNation gives his take on three things happening in the Sooner sports world.

1. Spring practice begins Monday, and here are five players I'll be keeping an eye on: S Bennett Okotcha, WR Trey Metoyer, LBs Kellen Jones and Frank Shannon, OT Lane Johnson.

2. Could Okotcha be OU's answer to its woes at safety? Perhaps. Kameel Jackson raved about Okotcha on Twitter recently, and Okotcha came to OU with big-time credentials. He was committed to Notre Dame until the Sooners got him to flip days before signing day last year.

3. One big key for the offense will be the left tackle position. I believe the Sooners will audition Johnson there this spring, though I find many people disagree with me. My counter is, if not Johnson, then who? Daryl Williams? Will Latu? Johnson's skill set (quick feet, good hands) seem to be an ideal fit for left tackle. I could be proven wrong. It wouldn't be the first time.

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Triple option: Okotcha the next Ed Reed? 

February, 24, 2012
Every weekday morning, a member of the SoonerNation gives his take on three things happening in the Sooner sports world.

1. OU is really utilizing Tim Kish and Mike Stoops to recruit Arizona and California. I think it's safe to say OU's national recruiting philosophy is here to stay.

2. In case you didn't notice, WR Kameel Jackson tweeted that OU safety Bennett Okotcha was going to be the next "Ed Reed." We didn't hear a lot of talk among players or coaches last year about Okotcha, who redshirted as a freshman. Okotcha, remember, was a huge steal in the 2011 recruiting class, as the Sooners got him to flip from Notre Dame to OU days before signing day. Okotcha obviously has a lot of potential. And safety is a position where the Sooners could use some help. Okotcha will be worth monitoring this spring, to see if he can make a move and earn playing time at a position where playing time is to be had.

3. I give a lot of credit to OU shooting guard Steven Pledger in the win over Oklahoma State on Wednesday. Pledger had to leave momentarily with a slight ankle injury. But hopping around, he hit a couple of huge 3s that staved off OSU's rally.

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The loss of Brent Venables will have a tremendous impact on Oklahoma each Saturday but could have a even bigger impact on the Sooners on National Signing Day each February.

Venables was one of the best recruiters on the Sooners staff, recruiting the Dallas/Fort Worth area as good as anyone in the country while also closing quality recruits from Florida, Las Vegas and Kansas in the last six years.

Here’s a look at various recruits Venables has recruited to Oklahoma since 2006 and their impact (or lack thereof) on the program:

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NORMAN, Okla. -- December is always a critical time for Oklahoma.

Not only is recruiting in high gear, but next year’s team starts to take shape during bowl practices as young players begin showing the coaching staff that they will be impact players in 2012.

Here is a look at several Sooners who have the opportunity to impress during bowl practices:

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Stoops, Players Want To Effect Change
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops sits down with Gene Wojciechowski to discuss his team's stand against racism.