“Throughout my time in Eastern Michigan, I could make any mistake a punter could make and I had an opportunity to come back from any mistake. If I had been at a different school these mistakes would have put me on the bench but the coaches put their all into me, they trusted me…the mental strength and growth I got there was by far one of the greatest aspects of my success.”
Despite his claim, Julien’s rookie season has been statistically solid. In nine games, he averaged over 42 yards per punt, had nine 50-plus yard boots and put eight inside the opponent’s 20-yard line, despite surviving his only career block.
Last year, Julien averaged career bests (45.9 yards), fair catches (17), punts over 50 yards (14), and longest punt (78).
Julien had the opportunity to audition for pro scouts this offseason. He attended pro day in eastern Michigan last month (in front of 26 NFL officials), has completed two private workouts with at least three others scheduled.
The months leading up to the NFL draft are traditionally very busy for prospects who must juggle practice with pro workouts and interviews. But Julien welcomes the seemingly never-ending interview.
“It’s a really exciting time,” he said. “A big part for me is to keep doing what I’m doing.
“There’s a part of the punt that’s very similar to golf where it’s not going to go well if you try any harder. You can’t push yourself anymore, you just have to do what you know and rely on your training. I feel like I know what I’m doing from my training and I’m really confident.”
Julien started playing soccer in the 11th grade after he started soccer. He didn’t start seriously considering a pro career until his junior season in Eastern Michigan.
“I had the opportunity to attend a specialty camp in Wisconsin where the best guys from the best schools got together for a weekend to compete,” Julien said. “I won one of the events and it was kind of the day I can point out in particular that made me think, ‘Oh, this is real. I actually have a chance to do that.’”
Julien said that the NFL team that gives him a chance — either as a draftee or an undrafted free agent — will get a player who’s willing to compete and work hard.
“I will not waver in the face of adversity,” he said. “I’ve been through tough times, I know how to deal with failures, I know how to deal with successes.
“I think I’ll be a mature rookie coming in and competing. I think I’m self-aware, I know what my game is and I’m a competitor. I will grind for it.”
Julien has no liking for the NFL team he wants to play for, although his father Rob grew up on the West Coast and remains a Seattle Seahawks fan.
“At this point, I will jump anywhere and at any opportunity,” he said. “But any opportunity I could take with them (Seahawks) would surely make him happy.”
Unlike many NFL draft candidates, Julien has an alternative should a pro career fail to materialize south of the border. And while he’s happy to have been picked by the Redblacks, Julien is trying to focus on the task at hand.
“But it’s very comforting to know that if all else fails, I still have a chance to play football for money in an established league like the CFL,” he said.
Whether in the NFL or CFL, Julien said the biggest adjustment he faces is staying accountable to himself.
“The biggest adjustment would be just being a pro,” he said. “In college, I have coaches, I have teammates, I have friends, I have my girlfriend to hold me accountable.
“If I don’t do anything in the last three months that no one knows? If I have a bad workout, nobody knows. But you can’t fool yourself and you can’t fool results either.”
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on April 5, 2022.
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press