Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 2, 2019

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 58 of 63 NOV. 2, 2019 59 IRISH IN THE PROS BY ANDREW MENTOCK F ormer Notre Dame defensive end Romeo Okwara signed a partially guaranteed, two-year, $6.8-million contract with the Detroit Lions in March. The deal came on the heels of his breakout season in 2018, when he led the New York Giants with 7.5 sacks while notching 39 total stops and 14 quarterback hits. Through six games this season for the 2-3-1 Lions, Okwara had compiled 12 tackles, half a sack and five quar- terback hits. While he is looking to in- crease his production in the second half of the season, he has made head- lines this year for his tastes in fashion, music and art, which has garnered him features in ESPN, Inside Hook and GQ. ESPN covered the debut of his photo exhibition that honored firefighters of Rescue 2 in Brooklyn. His interest in photography actually started while he was a student at Notre Dame. "It's always something I've been interested in," Okwara said during an interview with the Notre Dame Alumni Association in October. "I think I bought a camera when I was here in my junior year, just to docu- ment me and my friends on campus doing stupid things. "It evolved when I got to New York and bought a film camera and took it a little more serious from there." Another passion of his that began during his time in South Bend is his appreciation for the Grateful Dead. He couldn't tell you his favorite song of theirs, but that's only because there are too many to choose from. "I had a professor [while I was at Notre Dame] that was a Deadhead and he came bursting into class one day, talking about the Grateful Dead," he said. "I was like, 'Who's this band this guy is freaking out about?' "I researched them, because I'm such a big music fan, learned about the music and then I started going to shows, and it's a cool thing to go to." Okwara said he has been to roughly 15 of the band's concerts since, which he acknowledges isn't that many in the Grateful Dead world. Most recently, GQ explored his tastes in art and fashion, especially his psychedelically stylish clothing. Notably, every article of clothing he was photographed in came from his own closet. He was photographed in a vibrant blue jean jacket, a pink and orange tie-dye shirt with a yin-yang symbol on it, and more. "It can definitely be hard," Okwara told GQ. "I went to school with peo- ple that take a lot of risks, and it's cool being around those types of people. It pushes you to take risks. At the end of the day, are you gonna judge someone for wearing a piece of clothing? "You're just wearing clothes. You can have a good fit, or you can have a bad fit. It doesn't really matter. You're learning at the same time, too. You've got to take those risks." Given his eclectic group of interests, coupled with his talent on the grid- iron, it's hard to not see Okwara as a modern-day renaissance man, even if he's just following his passions. While Okwara was in South Bend recently to speak at the Notre Dame Alumni Event, he also had a chance to see his younger brother, Irish se- nior defensive end Julian Okwara, play against Bowling Green. Because the two are four years apart, they've never had the opportunity to play on the same team together. A recent Pro Football Focus mock draft actually has the Detroit Lions drafting Julian with the 17th overall pick. Will Romeo leave this possibility up to fate, or will he lobby the team to pick up his younger brother? "I'll do what I can, but I don't know how much pull I have," he said. "Prob- ably not a whole lot, but it will be re- ally cool to see where he ends up." ✦ Romeo Okwara, Notre Dame Renaissance Man Okwara may be easing into his role on a new team with the Detroit Lions this year, but off the field he is garnering media attention for his tastes in fashion and music, plus his skills as a photographer. PHOTO COURTESY DETROIT LIONS NOTRE DAME IN THE NFL: WEEK 7 HIGHLIGHTS • Bennett Jackson (Played at Notre Dame from 2010-13), DB, Baltimore Ravens: Was signed by the 5-2 Ravens Oct. 15, saw action in their 30-23 win at Seattle and recorded two tackles on special teams … The effort marked his first NFL game and first career tackles. • Zack Martin (2009-13), OL, Dallas Cowboys: Named to Pro Football Focus's Team of the Week after the Cowboys' 37-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles … Allowed zero pressures on 31 pass-blocking attempts. • Kyle Rudolph (2008-10), TE, Minnesota Vikings: Hauled in a season-high five receptions for 58 yards and a touchdown in the Vikings' 42-30 road win over the Detroit Lions … For the season, he has 14 catches for 130 yards and one touchdown. • Ronnie Stanley (2012-15), OT, Baltimore Ravens: Despite being listed as questionable before the game, played every offensive snap at left tackle in Baltimore's victory versus Seattle … Pro Football Focus had him the highest graded tackle when it comes to pass protection prior to the game … Has started each of the first seven contests at left tackle.

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