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After leaving soccer in high school, EMU punter Jake Julien getting shot in the NFL

After leaving soccer in high school, EMU punter Jake Julien getting shot in the NFL
Despite being selected in the fourth round of the Canadian Football League Draft, Ontario native and Eastern Michigan punter Jake Julien is trying to reach his NFL dreams as an undrafted free agent with the New England Patriots. (Credit:  Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports)

FOXBOROUGH, Ma. (BVM) – Since 2015, the Eastern Michigan Eagles football team has had three players (Maxx Crosby, Pat O’Connor, and Darius Jackson) drafted into the NFL while 21 players have received undrafted free agent contracts.

Out of the 24 players, only three (Crosby, O’Connor and Andrew Wylie) were on an NFL roster during the 2021 NFL season. Four other players that played several years in the league (Jackson, Bronson Hill, Cole Gardner, Sergio Bailey II) were off an active roster by the 2019 NFL season.

Jake Julien is the next Eagles player that is getting a shot in the NFL after signing an undrafted free agent contract with the New England Patriots on April 30.

The former soccer player turned football player in 11th grade took a chance in 2021 by going back to Eastern Michigan for his graduate senior season. He gained an extra year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic shortening the 2020 season to six games.

After being drafted in the fourth round with the 31st overall pick by the Ottawa RedBlacks in the 2021 CFL Draft, the Barrie, Ontario native decided to stay at Ypsilanti for the 2021 season in hopes of bettering his NFL chances.

Julien went into the season on the Ray Guy award watch list along with being named fourth-team preseason All-American by Phil Steele’s College Football Preview and selected first-team Preseason All-Mid-American conference.

While Julien wouldn’t reach the first-team All-MAC team, he excelled in his final season for the Eagles, garnering a second-team All-Mid-American selection after having 51 punts go for 2,343 yards. He posted career highs in average yards per punt (45.9), fair catches (17), punts over 50 yards (14) and longest punt (78).

Julien would play 54 games at Eastern Michigan from 2017-2021. During his career, he generated 9,726 yards, which ranks third in school history, on 221 punts. Out of his 221 punts, he had 51 punts of 50+ yards, 71 punts going inside the opponent’s 20-yard line and 51 fair catches.

His average of 44.0 yards per kick makes him the all-time record holder in program history. Another program record he holds is being the only player to have two 70+ yard punts.

To go with the 2021 selection to the All-MAC team, Julien also received the honor in 2018. He also received seven MAC-West Division Special Teams Player of the Week.

His success at Eastern Michigan led to him being selected to the College Gridiron Showcase held from Jan. 8-12.

During the pre-NFL draft process, Julien participated in Eastern Michigan’s pro day on March 17. He had at least five private workouts with NFL teams.

Now, Julien will be battling with Jake Bailey, a 3-year starter and a 2020 first team All-Pro selection, for the Patriots’ starting punter position in training camp. While not guaranteed, Bailey’s cap hit is going up to $3.98 million for the 2022 season. Bailey is also in the last year of his contract, as he’s set to be an unrestricted free agent in the 2023 offseason.

Depending on how the rest of the summer goes, with a strong performance, Julien could be the cheaper option for the Patriots going forward.

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