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Notre Dame Football

Julian Okwara Focused on Stacking Good Days

August 27, 2020
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Julian Okwara is healthy and back on the practice field after suffering a fractured fibula against Duke last November. 

The 6-foot-4, 250-pounder started running last spring and hasn't looked back. 

"I feel pretty good," Okwara told reporters over Zoom. "I feel 100 percent healthy and I've been doing everything. It's just a matter of getting back to football, learning the fundamentals and getting back to what I do. 

"I've been good for a while running and cutting. I'm still in my head a little bit, but I don't think really think about it by the time I'm running around. I don't even feel it at all. I feel pretty good and the leg feels good." 

Finding a routine might be a little more challenging than usual as the world is still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, which means rookies have a steep learning curve. 

"Not having a spring, it's definitely affected rookies in general and the whole NFL," stated Okwara. "Not in a bad way, but I think everything has moved fast and you have to get used to speed. You have to think fast and process information fast and that's kind of new for me really. 

"Everything moves at a high speed. You have to be on point every day. Coming in and learning is where I'm at right now. The spring with rookie mini-camp and OTAs, we've missed out on, but I think we're doing a pretty good job in acclimating." 

Okwara seems to have adjusted well and has flashed during training camp. He still has much to learn, but he's focused on stacking good days.

"Coach (Matt) Patricia always talks about keeping your head down and don't look up," explained Okwara. "Right now, I'm keeping my head down and fall in after the vets. I'm trying to do what they're doing and trust each rep. I'm watching how they're doing it and following along. 

"I'm coming every day to work my tail off and do everything the right way. I'm trying to learn as much as I can. I'm doing everything the coaches ask of me and whatever they need me to do, I'm doing. Stacking good days is important, especially in camp. The days are long and you have to keep going."

The Lions veterans have been more than helpful as they've helped answer any questions Okwara has had, including his older brother, Romeo. 

"Being able to go back home and look over the playbook with him and ask questions, especially when you're in the building with all the older guys and then you go home and you're by yourself," Okwara said of Romeo. "Having my brother right next door, I can go hop in his room, ask him a question and go back to my place." 

Okwara might not be living rent-free with Romeo, but the chance to live close to him is something they have both embraced. 

"I live right next door to him," laughed Okwara. "I guess we're kind of roommates. I had to get my own place. I like my own space. He's definitely close enough to be a great resource for me in terms of football and keeping in the right mental headspace.

"It's definitely going to help in the long run and spending more time with him. This is probably the most time we've spent together since high school. It's nice to have family next door to me."

The NFL seems to be moving in a position direction when it comes to playing while college football is still in a wait and see stage. 

Okwara hasn't thought too much about his former teammates at Notre Dame, but it's clear he has a new appreciation for the game coming back from injury. 

"I haven't given it much thought, but even with this, there are opt-outs and stuff like that," said Okwara. "I'm ready to play football, especially having the sport I love taken away from me last year with an injury. I'm looking forward to playing and getting on the field. 

"I just enjoy going out there with the guys and practicing. It was something I took for granted and when you get injured like that, being able to get on the field, you cherish every moment." 

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