Everybody wants to land recruits that can rush the passer and everyone wants those players to fit the measurements that they are looking for in terms of his size and athleticism.
When you combine the physical tools with relentless effort, that’s when you have a chance to have a special player. That’s what you get with Julian Okwara. He needs time to develop, but he’s a playmaker that never stops pursuing the football.
Okwara has the length and frame teams are looking for off the edge. He has plenty of room to add weight and should easily get to over 240 once in a college strength and conditioning program. He’s an outstanding athlete with great lateral agility and speed.
There is one constant with Okwara: he is always making plays. His effort always puts him in a position to do so, even if his technique isn’t the greatest on a particular play. He chases down plays from the backside and hustles to the ball to get in on the tackle when most players are jogging at best. It’s awesome to watch how hard he works on the field and it comes through no matter if he’s on special teams or lined up off the edge on third down play.
He shows an explosive first step and comes off hard off the football. He needs to get stronger with his punch, but will use his length to disengage and pursue the ball. He does a nice job of feeling the block and fighting against it. He’s a little light in the pants right now so when his pad level gets high, he can get pushed back off the ball, but once he adds weight and strength he should be a lot better at preventing that from happening.
He can bend off the edge and has natural pass rush tools because of his speed and length, but like most players his age, he is raw in terms of moves of counters. If he can develop those in order to finish plays, he can be an extremely difficult player to block because of how hard he competes.
He’s a smooth athlete that can drop into coverage as well and not be a liability.
I could easily see him as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the right system, but think his best fit is with his hand in the ground playing off the edge in a 4-3 defense.
I think Okwara has the potential to be a big time player who far outplays his ranking, mostly because he has the physical tools combined with effort that is rare to see from a lot of players. His brother Romeo is a starting defensive end for Notre Dame and I think Julian can eventually be better than him. Once he develops, I think he can be an impact edge player for multiple seasons at the next level.
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Jamie Uyeyama was a way too small defensive tackle at Idaho State University and a more appropriately sized rush end at Simon Fraser University. He was a coach at the college and high school level and is the son of Ron Uyeyama, a member of the Delta Sports Hall of Fame and high school football coach for over 30 years (hence the site name, Son of a Coach).