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Born in London but raised in Lagos, Okwara and his family moved to the United States when he was just a boy. He then attended Ardrey Kell High School in Charlotte, North Carolina, and then the famous University of Notre Dame to play college football from 2016 to 2019.
In 2020, he was selected in the third round (67th overall) of the NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions, eventually signing a four-year contract in June of the same year. Okwara didn’t have much of an impact in his rookie season as he recovered from a broken leg suffered in his senior year of college, but he is set to become a star on the grill in 2021-2022.
The 23-year-old moved up to outside linebacker in Detroit’s new 3-4 base defense, with Trey Flowers and older brother Romeo Okwara among others. The change in stance should allow young Okwara’s agility and athleticism to kick in.
“Oh great. I mean, I feel pretty good,” Okwara said. “Moving pretty fast. It feels good for sure. I mean, I broke my leg in college and I felt pretty good after that. I don’t really let the injuries affect me. It’s part of the game, everything happens, so I’m just excited to play this year and get moving. “
He added: “I like him very much [the new defence]. I mean, go to football, go fast, do whatever I need to do. So being on the pitch making plays, I think that’s the most exciting thing about this defense.
“Anytime you run into a guard, into a tackle, I think you usually run into it, so I love that. Every time I move around, whether it’s to do a cover, whatever, to join the quarterback, then I’m excited for that.
The Okwara brothers have never performed together in high school or college, but appear to be a formidable pair for the Lions. Romeo Okwara has made the decision not to leave Detroit during the offseason after experiencing an impressive campaign in 2020.
“I mean, I wasn’t really, I think I (was going to) miss him,” Julian Okwara said of his brother’s decision to come back. “I think I was going to miss him a bit, so I don’t think he meant that, sounds a little sweet.”
“But, no, I’m delighted to be playing with him for a few more years. I think his return is a good thing for the team. Great for organizing, knowing that the guys want to come here and be around the team and change the organization and the things that we did last year, we want to get better and better every year.
The two Okwara brothers hope to feature prominently for the Detroit Lions when they face the Green Bay Packers in an NFL regular season clash at Lambeau Field in Wisconsin on the morning of Tuesday, September 21 – a game which you can watch LIVE on ESPN 2.
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See Julian Okwara in the following NFL game live on ESPN:
All weather CAT
Tuesday September 21
2:15 am: Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions – LIVE on ESPN 2