Notebook: Julian Okwara ready to move in with older brother if drafted by Lions

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Julian Okwara referring to himself in the third person sounded a bit weird, but the former Notre Dame defensive end received so many questions about his older brother it may have been necessary.

The younger Okwara spent a decent chunk of his roughly 30-minute media availability at the NFL Scouting Combine last Thursday fielding questions related to Romeo Okwara, a defensive end for the Detroit Lions heading into his fifth year in the NFL.

Would it be awkward if Julian was drafted by the New York Giants, the same team that cut Romeo in 2018? What did Julian learn from Romeo’s experience of going undrafted in 2016? What would it be like to play with his older brother?

To Julian’s credit, he at least had a good joke ready for that last question.

“It would be cool,” Julian said. “I told him I’d move in with him on the couch. He’s going to have to pay the rent, and I’m not splitting it either. He’s going to have to take care of everything, because I’m the younger brother and that’s what older brothers do. They take care of their younger brother.”

Because Romeo was four years ahead of Julian in school, the two have never played organized football together. Even though Julian’s senior season didn’t go as planned with 18 tackles, six tackles for a loss and four sacks in nine games before being sidelined with a broken left fibula, he shouldn’t have to worry about not being drafted like Romeo.

Julian doesn’t hold a grudge against the Giants either. They were at least willing to sign Romeo in 2016, which led to him playing in 16 games and recording 25 tackles and one sack that season.

“The Giants are someone who gave him a chance, the reason why he’s at the Lions right now,” Julian said. “He could have not been on a team.”

Even though Romeo’s on-field production dipped from 2018 to 2019 with the Lions, he garnered media attention last year for work he did off the field as a photographer and his own personal clothing style. Romeo did a photoshoot and Q&A for an online story with GQ last October.

Will there be a GQ feature in the future for Julian?

“Maybe. I don’t know if I’m as good looking,” Julian said. “I have a good personality though.”

After all, these months leading into the NFL Draft are about convincing teams of a potential fit.

“I have to worry about me,” Julian said, “and what Julian Okwara needs to do.”

Pride vs. Tyree?

The title for fastest active Notre Dame football player will be up for grabs with cornerback Troy Pride Jr. no longer on the team.

Pride figures the title will either go junior-to-be wide receiver Braden Lenzy or incoming freshman running back Chris Tyree, who both were track standouts in high school.

“Braden’s obviously super fast, offensively doing what he does,” Pride said. “I hope he takes the next step in his speed this year. Those two have to be the guys in my opinion.”

Pride never got a chance to see Tyree’s speed in person as the four-star signee won’t enroll at Notre Dame until June.

“I heard Chris Tyree’s crazy fast,” said Pride, who clocked a 4.4 in the 40-yard dash Sunday at the NFL Combine. “I wanted to race him, but he got there late.”

But would Pride return to campus in the future to race Tyree?

“If he wants it,” Pride said.

Kareem plays scout

Defensive end Khalid Kareem went up against plenty of talented offensive tackles in his senior season at Notre Dame. Three could be selected in the first round of April’s NFL Draft in Las Vegas: Georgia’s Andrew Thomas, Louisville’s Mekhi Becton and USC’s Austin Jackson.

Kareem picked Becton as the toughest opponent he faced in 2019.

“Dude’s like 6-7, 370, has some of the longest arms,” Kareem said. “They’re like tree trunks. Just trying to get beyond that was pretty tough. For him being big, he was athletic too. He had pretty decent footwork.”

The 6-foot-7, 364-pound Becton ran the 40 in 5.1 seconds at last week’s combine. Kareem tallied four tackles and one tackle for a loss in Notre Dame’s 35-17 victory over Louisville in the season opener for both teams.

That game was also the starting debut for Notre Dame middle linebacker Drew White. Even though White finished the season tied for the team high with 80 tackles, Kareem said White is still underrated.

“Drew, he’s the man of that defense,” Kareem said. “Obviously you hear a lot of talk about (defensive end) Daelin (Hayes), (rover Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah), (safety) Kyle Hamilton, all those guys. But Drew White’s a sleeper right now.”

Elliott’s hometown pride

Before former Notre Dame safety Jalen Elliott answered questions from the podium he was assigned for media availability at the combine last Friday, he noticed that he was positioned right next to Clemson safety K’Von Wallace’s podium.

Both are from Richmond, Va., so Elliott asked to take a photo with Wallace when they were done answering questions.

Later, when Elliott was asked about his NFL influences, he started with another Richmond product: Anthony Harris, who finished tied for first in the NFL with six interceptions as a safety for the Minnesota Vikings last season.

Elliott proudly represents the 804 area code.

“You can’t ever forget where you came from,” Elliott said. “I’m Richmond, Va., all day. 804 all day. I’m so thankful to be in this position. I just hope that I can put on for my home and hope that I continue to show out for them.”

Former Notre Dame defensive end Julian Okwara fielded a number of questions about older brother Romeo Okwara, a Detroit Lions defensive end, at the NFL Scouting Combine last week.