Munich / Ann Arbor – For weeks, only two words have been applicable to Julius Welschof: Orange Bowl.
For New Year’s Eve, his Michigan Wolverines will face the Georgia Bulldogs in the second semifinal of the College Football Playoffs (on the night of January 1, live from 1:30 a.m. live on ProSieben MAXX and ran.de).
Before the big duel for access to the national championship on the night between 10 and 11 January from 01.45 live on ProSieben MAXX and ran.de, the defender speaks in an interview race about the famous coach Jim Harbaugh, everyday life at university, his way to college and a possible German duel.
race: Mr. Welschof, spectacular but also exhausting weeks lie behind you. How are you feeling?
Julius Welschof: It was twelve, thirteen weeks at full throttle, and then you realize your body needs a break. In addition, my final exams were in the final phase of the season.
race: How can you imagine this combination of top-level college and college football?
Welschof: Above all, it requires good time management. But if it does not quite work out, you can always write to the professors and they will understand. This is definitely good, because football alone is obviously very time consuming. But luckily it’s done now, and since mid-December, our focus has actually been on the semifinals.
race: For the first time since the start of the college football playoffs in 2014, Michigan is part of the four semifinalists. How can you explain the great success this season?
Welschof: It’s always hard to say. I think we needed a couple of games in the beginning, but then we realized that we are just a really good team. Of course we also have many good individual players, but success does not depend on just one person, if everyone does what they have to, we are very good as a whole team.
Michigan coach Harbaugh a ‘perfectionist’
race: What role does head coach Jim Harbaugh have in this?
Welschof: He is clearly a fairly experienced coach and before the season he knew exactly what he needed to improve. You can tell his NFL experience, game preparation is always incredibly good. But he is also a perfectionist and never really satisfied.
race: And have you also benefited from this?
Welschof: Definitely. Of course, he’s also been in Michigan for a while, and I thought it was good that I had the same head coach all these years. I owe him a lot in my years here because he is also a coach who cares a lot about the players but who at the same time trusts his coaching staff and lets them do their thing. So I could develop well.
race: A few years ago, she did not even know the rules of American football …
Welschof: It is correct. I lived with a host family in Jacksonville after graduating from high school. When we were just tossing football around in the backyard, my host dad said I’m very athletic for my size and could definitely play college football. Back in Germany, I started playing with the Rosenheim Rebels and quickly realized that I could do well in the D-Liner position even with less experience, and that athletics is very important there. At one point, I flew back to the US with some teammates and was able to recommend myself to colleges.
Victory against Ohio State: “It was incredibly emotional”
race: You are now part of the rotation in the defense, you play a lot of special teams, and suddenly you are on the field at Michigan Stadium in front of over 100,000 spectators. What is that feeling?
Welschof: At first I was still very nervous during the fights, but it has gotten smaller. The whole atmosphere of the stadium is very unusual and can not be compared with anything else. It’s always emotional when you cheer on each other with the team and then run out of the tunnel on the pitch.
race: Are there any special events or highlights you are thinking of?
Welschof: The match against Ohio State was incredibly emotional. It really reminds you again and again how important it is for Michigan to beat Ohio State. At each training session, a large screen hung in the room that read, ‘What are you willing to do to beat Ohio State?’. When you look at it after such a long time (ten years, editor’s note) finally manages to win again and the whole stadium goes crazy, the fans rushing onto the pitch while it snows lightly. I will never forget that.
race: One of the heroes in that game at the time was Aidan Hutchinson, who hit three sacks. He’s a top 5 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, what kind of guy is he?
Welschof: We know each other really well and live together in a shared apartment for two. You can see he is different. He places great emphasis on his body, does not eat sugar and almost only natural products. He is one of the most ambitious on the team and hates to lose. In a way, he infects everyone to get the best out of himself.
“The team that is better prepared wins”
race: They are seeded as number two and meet the Georgia Bulldogs in the semifinals (the night of January 1, live from 01.30 on ProSieben MAXX and ran.de). How are the last days before the match?
Welschof: We’re doing a lot of analysis right now and looking at a lot of Georgia gameplay. The difference to the regular season is that you just have a lot more time to prepare for the match. Our coaches always tell us: ‘Whoever goes better prepared for the match will win’.
race: And do you want to be better prepared?
Welschof: That, of course, is our goal. Both defenses are very good and it probably depends on which offensive can break the opponent better.
After what happened the last few weeks I just wanted to say thank you @PPIRekrutter to always believe in me. It’s crazy how two Germans go from training in the mud to the CFB Playoffs with the help of one guy. With all my heart thank you for changing my life pic.twitter.com/AreRqSHVl0
– juliuswelschof (@JuliusWelschof) December 6, 2021
race: In the second semifinal (January 31, live, from 21:15 on ProSieben MAXX and ran.de) another German will be on the field for Cincinnati in Lorenz Metz. How is your relationship with him?
Welschof: We know each other from the camps earlier, he was originally a defensive end but then switched to the O-Line. But of course I follow what he does and he has had a pretty successful season. I hope for him that it works against Alabama, a German final would be something.
Interview conducted by: Timo Nicklaus
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