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2023 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Julius Wilkerson, LB, Wayne State University (MI)

Julius Wilkerson the play making linebacker from Wayne State University (MI) recently sat down with NFL Draft Diamonds writer Justin Berendzen.
Julius Wilkerson the play-making linebacker from Wayne State University (MI) recently sat down with NFL Draft Diamonds writer Justin Berendzen.
  • Name: Julius Wilkerson
  • Position: LB
  • College: Wayne State University(MI)
  • Height: 6’1″
  • Weight: 227 lbs
  • Twitter: @JuliusWilkerso1

What made you decide you wanted to be a football player?

Honestly, becoming a football player happened completely by accident. One day when I was five, my older cousin was going to football practice, and I tagged along to get out of daycare. I got bored just watching the team run, so I decided to toss the football around with my little cousin. When we were throwing the ball around it just felt right like there was not a care in the world. Eventually the head coach saw me throwing and asked if I wanted to join the team. From there, the rest is really history.

What are your favorite moments from your football life?

My favorite moments from my football life really come from just hanging out with my teammates during camp. At every level I’ve been at, I have been able to create bonds with guys that I know can never be broken. Especially in college, whether that be staying up going over plays together as freshman, talking about random stuff around lunch, or just goofing off during our breaks. There’s just something special about being able to be around likeminded people that have the same goals and aspirations.

What sets you apart from other linebackers?

I believe my leadership, adaptability, and high motor have been some of the traits that have set me apart from other linebackers. Ever since I was young being a leader was like second nature to me. So, when the chips are down and everyone is looking for someone to get them going I’ve never been one to shy away. But no matter how good of a leader you are though, you still have to be able to play the game at a high level. I believe my resume and tape speaks for itself in that regard. Being able to accomplish everything I have so far has been no small feat, especially with having three different LB coaches during my four years of playing. A lot of those stats comes from just not giving up and always being ready to make a play on the ball which is something I’ve always pride myself on.

What type of energy do you bring onto the football field?

It is difficult to label a specific type of energy because I contribute different energies to the field depending on the need. Though I am an uplifting and fun-loving guy most of the time, I have also been known to be a calm presence when it seemed like everything was falling apart. I think the best ability is to be able to switch between these energies and adapt to the needs of the team because during a game everything is constantly evolving. So, it is important to know the best way to motivate your guys at every moment.

If you could hang out with any football player past or present for a day who and why?

If I could hang out with one football player for a day, I would want it to be Ray Lewis. I’ve always enjoyed listening to some of his motivational speeches before a game and have done my best to learn more about him as a football player and a person. He’s the type of guy to give 110% effort in everything he does, which is why he was able to be so dominant on the field for so long. It’s something I’ve always tried to implement in my game as well because as he always mentions effort is one of the only things you can control, and you don’t have to be a superstar to give a great amount of it either. He’d not only be able to teach me a lot about being a linebacker at the highest level but also help to instill the mindset that got him there. Not just every player can give you the type of knowledge he has so I think it’d be a real missed opportunity if I didn’t pick him.

What are your favorite things about playing football for Wayne State?

Some of my favorite things about playing for Wayne State are the family atmosphere and blue-collar attitude we bring to everything we do. I originally came to Detroit knowing no one here and little about the city. But the guys who were here really took me under their wing and made me feel like I was a part of the brotherhood from the start. This really made it easy for me to buy into everything we do during the year. At Wayne State we know nothing will ever just be handed to us, so our coaches make it a point to have us undergo a very rigorous training regime to make the players not only physically strong but also mentally tough. It’s those types of experiences that prepare you not only for games but also for life.

What should we know about Julius Wilkerson the person?

You should know that I will always strive to be the best that I can be. Whether that be spiritually, in the realm of football, family, school, relationships, or any of my hobbies. There will always be some way I can learn and grow so I won’t stop trying to improve myself from the day before.

What is your favorite defensive scheme and why?

Though I’ve always been interested in running in a 3-4, I’d have to say my favorite defensive scheme would have to be a 4-3 and/or 4-2-5 just because that’s what we primarily run here at Wayne, and it’s become natural for me at this point. Though we do have a variety of defensive fronts and schemes, I just feel like as a middle backer I’m able to diagnose the offense’s plays clearly and get to the ball a little bit faster in a 4-3.

How do you handle challenges both in life and on the football field?

I try to handle all challenges by first consulting with God but also taking them one step at a time. I think that as people we tend to see most of our problems as these huge daunting obstacles which can lead us feeling so overwhelmed and/or stressed, so most people just prefer to seek the comfort of giving up entirely. I’ve found that being able to consult with my God and break these challenges down into more manageable tasks has helped alleviate almost all of these feelings. It’s important to just be able to breathe and realize that if you’ve made it through all the other seemingly impossible challenges life has thrown at you, you can always make it just a little bit further.

What would a team get in a player like you?

The organization that I play for in the future will be getting a hard-working leader who is willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win. I will be a great addition to any locker room because I am determined to help elevate the standards of everyone around me. Whether that be through competing in the weight room or on the field, helping others with some of the mental aspects of the game, or even being there for them with situations off the field. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to help my teammates and myself achieve greatness.

What are you looking forward to in your upcoming season?

I’m looking forward to playing championship-caliber football with my guys and re-earning the respect of every team in the nation.

Who is the most underrated player you’ve played with and why?

The most underrated player I’ve ever played with would have to be Brandon Tuck-Hayden. For whatever reason, he never really got the respect he deserved from the other teams during his time in the GLIAC. In my opinion, he was always someone I was competing with day in and day out. The style of his game and the way that he played was unmatched in my eyes and well worth an All-American nod. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened so far but I’m excited to see what he does at his new team this season and continue to learn from him.


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