Perhaps the most underrated player on the 2018 Notre Dame football team, Julian Okwara stood out as the Defensive Player of the Game against Pitt on Saturday.
Doesn’t it seem as if Notre Dame football has had an Okwara on its roster forever?
Well, no complaints here. Julian Okwara had himself a game this past Saturday against Pittsburgh. Pitt seems to always be a tough game for the Irish, but Okwara made sure that his team got the ‘W’ and stayed undefeated.
Okwara racked up a total of 6 tackles (4 solo), 7 QB hits, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 pass breakup. When you see that stat-line, it’s not hard to see that this guy can do it all.
A part of Okwara’s game that seems to go unnoticed by many is one that does not exactly show up on the stat-sheet.
Okwara has a knack for pressuring the quarterback. Next time you watch Notre Dame football play, try to not watch the ball and key in on Okwara. I did this for the Pitt game and I was amazed. He may not have the sack numbers that Khalid Kareem or Jerry Tillery have, but neither Kareem nor Tillery have near as many sacks without Okwara’s constant pressure. Julian Okwara is simply relentless in his pursuit of the quarterback, and it shows.
Also, a part of Okwara’s game that has massively improved, is his tackling. Through 7 games, Okwara has shattered his stats from his 2016 and 2017 seasons. In his 23 career games at ND prior to this season, Okwara had a total of 12 solo tackles and 9 assists. Just 7 games into his junior season, Okwara has tallied 14 solo tackles and 7 assists.
Okwara was once a one-trick pony for the Irish, but has blossomed into a special player and a hugely important one for the Irish defense. If he continues at this rate, there is no denying that he has a great chance to be drafted this April.