NORMAN — When Bennett Okotcha struggled on the football field, he turned to his high school coach.
So when the redshirt freshman defensive back started feeling like he no longer fit in with the Sooners, he called Coppell (Texas) football coach Joe McBride. On Tuesday, McBride confirmed that Okotcha has left the Oklahoma football team.
“From what I understand, it was a tough fit for a while and it just became a little tougher and tougher,” McBride said.
The departure of the redshirt freshman defensive back makes him the second player to leave OU this month. The first was guard John Michael McGee, who no longer wanted to play football.
But the past two years, there have been a lot of comings and goings in Norman.
Just this preseason, Kameel Jackson left after suspension, Londell Taylor was ruled academically ineligible, both Ben Habern and Dylan Dismuke were lost to career-ending injuries and the names of Brandon Young, Seth Carter and Michael Hill disappeared from the roster.
Last season saw a lot of players leave Norman too. Names like Austin Haywood, Justin McCay, Sheldon McClain, Eric Humphrey, James Haynes, Brandon Williams, Jonathan Miller, Brandon Wegher, Dan Tapko, Josh Aladenoye and Jermie Calhoun are gone. Defensive backs coach Willie Martinez also left. Then defensive coordinator Brent Venables was the next to go.
Martinez and Venables recruited Okotcha. They knew his talent, and they were both gone within a week. Then there was the surgery on his knee and recovery. “It was really not having guys around that knew his ability and recruited him,” McBride said. “He just felt like a misfit a little bit and couldn’t find his way.” On August 12, Okotcha tweeted “talkin to my highschool football coach, Joe McBride always gets my mind right for anything, especially football though #noexcusesmentality.”
McBride knew when the last phone call came from Okotcha that it was serious. Okotcha wanted to leave.