Notre Dame safety target Ikenna Okeke not ready to commit

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

The possibility of a door closing wasn’t enough to nudge Ikenna Okeke into a Notre Dame commitment.

The three-star safety recruit has held steadfast in his want to visit other schools before settling on a decision. Okeke admitted he came close to committing to the Irish following a visit in June, but he wanted to see a number of schools including Stanford.

Now the school most prominently standing in Notre Dame’s way is Texas A&M. Okeke left his Notre Dame official visit on Sunday with his recruitment still undecided.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Okeke received an offer from the Aggies last Tuesday. He hopes to schedule a visit to College Station soon.

“I want to see what they have to offer and what they're talking about,” Okeke said. “They've only been talking to me recently. I may or may not go to Missouri. I'm not sure what position they're in with safeties right now because I know they had a commitment recently. Texas A&M and Missouri are a couple of the schools I really want to check out."

Okeke left South Bend knowing that spots for safeties are limited in Notre Dame’s 2016 recruiting class. But he’s confident that his steady communication with the Irish coaching staff — particularly recruiting coordinator Mike Elston and defensive backs coach Todd Lyght — will allow him to keep up with any changes in scholarship availability.

“They said they have one spot, maybe even two spots for DBs,” Okeke said. “With me not committing on that day, they said they're still going to recruit me hard. They're definitely going to give me a shout when they feel like a commitment is coming.

“They want to coach me and said I have an opportunity to be great there. I believe it. I just have to check everything out real quick. I'm going to try to get on campus at Texas A&M as soon as possible. I'm not trying to hold up any spots so both schools can recruit someone else.”

Despite the fact that Okeke didn’t commit to the Irish as some forecasted he may, the senior at Smyrna (Tenn.) High gave the visit a sparkling review.

“I can't even put it in words,” Okeke said. “It was a great visit all around."

Freshman linebacker Asmar Bilal hosted Okeke for the overnight visit. Okeke also spent time with freshmen Equanimeous St. Brown, Miles Boykin and Shaun Crawford.

"I got to experience a game visit, hang out with some players and get some one-on-one time with the coaches. It's another box checked off with my comfort level,” Okeke said. “I definitely got a good feel for the players and got a better insight on South Bend, Indiana.”

The intensity of the crowd at Notre Dame Stadium took Okeke by surprise. That came in part because Okeke wasn’t aware of the magnitude of a Notre Dame-USC game.

"I did not know USC was a rivalry game,” Okeke said. “It was crazy loud. The fans were into it."

Notre Dame’s coaching staff can feel confident in the impression they left on Okeke as the team to beat in his recruitment. As the Irish continue to recruit other safeties, Okeke will work his way closer to a decision.

“I knew going in that I wanted to compare it to other schools. I wanted to still look around,” Okeke said. “I knew I probably wasn't going to commit, but there was always that slim chance of me thinking it was completely outstanding. I still want to check out a few schools and be completely done with all the recruitment before I commit."


Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Safety recruit Ikenna Okeke walks off the field after Notre Dame's 41-31 win over USC on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015. (SBT Photo/JARED HAMSHER)