by Oliver Jensen
he ran: Hi Mr. Okoronkwo, I’ve had many offers from college football, including South Carolina, Maryland, Michigan, and Penn State. Why did you choose Alabama?
Justin Okoronko: Alabama has been my dream college since I started football. I remember the previous coach always showing me scenes from college football so I could learn from their moves. It mostly showed scenes from Alabama. So my dream was to play in this college myself.
he ran: How does the German football talent join the university? How was the recruitment process for you?
Okoronko: I work with an organization called PPI Recruits which was started by Brandon Collier. He looks for the best talents in Germany and organizes small football camps. Then he went on a small college tour of the US with top talent. I was there this year as well as last year. We had a camp at a different college every day so we could play in front of the coaches and be spotted.
he ran: Is this similar to the NFL Combine in terms of content, where talent has to master various auditions?
Okoronko: Yes, you have the typical combination exercises like the 40-yard sprint, the broad jump, the vertical jump, and so on. Then there was an exercise with different exercises under the supervision of the coach of the respective position. Finally, there are individual interviews…
he ran: I also spoke to head coach Nick Saban, who has been coaching Alabama since 2007 and won the college championship six times. What is your personal impression of him?
Okoronko: I was so excited. I felt like I was talking to a boss. It’s just on a whole other level. You have a lot of respect when you talk to him face to face. He is very calm and speaks very carefully.
he ran: Alabama has a new defensive coordinator in Kevin Steele. Have you been in contact with him already?
Okoronko: Yes, I talked to him at camp too. However, I have the most connection with the linebacker coach. I just video-connected him yesterday so we could get to know each other a little bit before I go off to college.
he ran: What exactly is your schedule?
Okoronko: I’ll finish the season with the Nuremberg Rams and then go to Alabama in January next year.
he ran: With what hopes will you travel to the USA? How high are your hopes that you’ll actually land your duties in the 2024 season?
Okoronko: The first year, I might be able to get a little on special teams. But I don’t get my hopes up too much. After all, this is Alabama, which is where the best talent plays. I know I still have to work on myself. It is important that I continue to gain weight until then. Then we’ll see how well I fit in technically. I have already played against my fellow Americans in the camps and found the pace there to be faster than in Germany. But I can keep up right away. I guess I’ll get game time then.
he ran: What are your strengths?
Okoronko: What my coaches appreciate about me is definitely my speed, my instincts and my physical game.
he ran: How did you get into American football in the first place?
Okoronko: I only started playing football three and a half years ago when I was 16 years old. Someone in my class said I should come to soccer. Since then I have loved this sport.
he ran: Do you dream of one day playing in the NFL?
Okoronko: I think everyone who plays football dreams of the NFL. If I get the chance, I will definitely try it. But I am also very proud of what I have achieved so far and that I now have a scholarship at Alabama.
he ran: Are there certain role models that inspire you as a footballer?
Okoronko: Yes, I loved Ray Lewis and Luke Kuechly, for example, because they were just outstanding players.
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