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Notre Dame Football

Julian Okwara Positive Heading into Pro Day

February 28, 2020

Notre Dame defensive end Julian Okwara won't be doing much at the NFL Combine this week as he's still recovering from a fractured left fibula. 

The 6-foot-4, 252-pounder will do the bench press, but any on-field work will wait until Pro Day. 

"It's good," said Okwarra. "I'm up and running. I'm taking things day-by-day. I'll be running at Pro Day, but I don't want to give anything less than that."

Okwara ran a 4.53 40-yard dash at Notre Dame last spring, so it's not surprising he was a little frustrated he can't show his talents to the country on Saturday. 

"It's definitely frustrating," stated Okwara. I know I can run faster than that and I wanted to show that. I know that's a time a lot of guys are expecting out of me. Coach Balis has coached me to work my tail off in the weight room. 

"I've been telling the guys at EXOS; they're lucky I'm not running right now because I'd be beating their times, even the running backs. I'm definitely excited to show what I can do on the bench press. I think my strength is questioned by a lot of people and I know I can hold my ground." 

The Charlotte native may have impressed NFL scouts despite not working out as he weighed in at 252 pounds. 

Weight has somewhat been an issue for Okwara and it took moving off campus to find consistency there. 

"In college, you don't really have that much money to buy food," explained Okwara. "The dining hall is closed and you don't want to be eating Taco Bell late at night. 

"You have to take care of your body and eat healthy. When I was able to move off-campus and get the stipend to go to the grocery store and make some pasta and meal prep stuff  - it wasn't that hard, but it was the matter of doing it and having the motivation to do it. Eating at 1 a.m. rather than going to sleep." 

When it comes to interest from NFL teams, Okwara has the flexibility to play in a variety of schemes and it makes him a coveted prospect. 

"I'm versatile and a great pass rusher," stated Okwara. "I can set the edge on defense and I can do a lot of things a lot of guys can't. I can drop into coverage and cover guys. Playing in a 3-4, I can play outside linebacker cover some guys and rush off the edge. In a 4-3, I can set the edge in run defense and get after the quarterback on passing downs.

"I think I'm going to be an all down defensive end and be on the field for a long time." 

Notre Dame was able to utilize Okwara's full skill set during his time in South Bend and it prepared him for life in the NFL.

"I think my first year I had some plays playing hands down at strong end," Okwara explained. "Being able to stand up the past three years allowed me to see a lot as a standup outside linebacker, but still a defensive end. I still set the edge of the defense, got after the quarterback and dropped in coverage. I think it confuses offenses a little bit being able to drop into coverage, attack the run and get after the quarterback. A lot of guys don't know what I'm doing." 

Okwara will have a slim chance to play with his older brother in Detroit and he already has laid down the rules if that happens despite what Romeo may think. 

"It'd be cool," Okwara said. "I told him I'd move in with him on the couch and he's going to have to pay the rent and I'm not splitting it. He's going to take care of everything because I'm the younger brother. That's what older brothers do. They take care of the younger brother. 

"It'd be cool to play with him. I've always wanted to play with him, so it'd be an honor." 

And will he have a GQ shoot like his older brother? 

"Maybe," said Okwara. "I don't know if I'm as good looking. I have a good personality." 

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