Following his brothers footsteps to Notre Dame, Julian Okwara might play the same position as his brother Romeo, but he brings with him a different skill-set to South Bend. If Romeo’s game was power and physicality, Julian’s is built on speed and athleticism.
Those traits are what had the Irish staff excited about bringing another Okwara into the program—and are much needed as Keith Gilmore and Brian VanGorder try to figure out their pass rush.
An edge player who could play either linebacker or defensive end, Okwara will add more athleticism to the front seven.
6’4″, 216 lbs.
A consensus 3-star prospect, Okwara was a first-team All-State performer who had offers from some elite programs in the Southeast, picking Notre Dame over Clemson, Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee.
He played in the Carolina’s Shrine Bowl after a standout senior season.
Offers from top programs make Okwara less of a developmental target than Romeo. And one look at his game tape and you’ll see that there’s plenty of speed and athleticism coming from Okwara, who should have a head up on his brother thanks to his years around the sport and his exceptional quickness.
While it was Romeo that bounced between linebacker and defensive end, Julian’s skills make him better suited to play both in space and off the edge, a capable athlete who looks comfortable at linebacker as well as defensive end. Notre Dame thinks he’s a defensive end from the start, with pass rush skills that could help the team quickest.
Will an Okwara be able to redshirt in South Bend? I say yes. That would’ve been helpful for Romeo, who played as a 17-year-old freshman still learning the game. It will be helpful for Julian as well, though he could help chase down quarterbacks if he’s able to specialize in certain packages.
But for Okwara to do that, he’ll need to move ahead of fellow classmate Daelin Hayes and find playing time over veteran options like Andrew Trumbetti. The better move would be to spend the season getting bigger with Paul Longo and then see what the defensive front looks like with Jarron Jones and Isaac Rochell graduated.
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