facebook twitter flickr you tube pinterest


Hard Work Pushes Local Student Julian Lowe into Spotlight

Hard Work Pushes Local Student Julian Lowe into Spotlight

It's early winter of 2012 and 18-year old Julian Lowe is in the midst of an 18-hour work day across his hometown of Gahanna, Ohio. A recent standout athlete at nearby Lincoln High School, Lowe had signed to play football at NCAA Division II Alderson Broaddus University, in West Virginia, before things went a bit awry.

Lowe's father, Floyd, was laid off from work just days after his oldest son's high school graduation and then Lowe's grandfather, Floyd Sr., unfortunately passed away two weeks later. Julian enrolled at Alderson Broaddus in the fall, but returned within weeks after doctors discovered a mass on the back of Floyd's head.

With his father out of work and undergoing medical attention, his mother not completely in the equation and younger brother still in high school, Julian found three different jobs to support the family. He worked mornings at Tim Horton's, went to Sports Authority to work retail in the afternoon and then handled overnight shifts at FedEx. He once remembers working 38 hours straight.

"I needed to do something because my dad's unemployment check was only so much and it became a struggle to get food on the table," Lowe explained.  "When I wasn't at a job, I was taking care of my grandmother's house or helping my brother with things. Family comes first."

After his dad had surgery to remove the mass, in January of 2013, and then eventually found a job, Julian decided it was time to "go big or go home" as he turned his attention back to college football. With the University of Akron being the most affordable Division I option, he ventured two hours north determined to somehow make the Zips roster.

"I have always had to work for what I have," Lowe said emphatically. "Playing sports and working out has been my outlet for so long. There are certain comparisons you can make between working hard in athletics and in life, but the difference is I can be completely stress-free on the field."

A workout freak with an intense drive, Lowe fought and scraped his way into earning a walk-on spot at Akron, as a wide receiver, and spent the next two years contributing mostly on special teams. After a wave of transfers arrived, Lowe realized a scholarship may not be in his future and decided to move back closer to his family once again.

"We knew he was a good player from film but you never know what you might get from a transfer," Otterbein offensive coordinator Dan Damico said. "The thing that stuck out about Julian is how hard he competes during practices. I've never seen a human being go harder with a route on air, against nobody. He pushes himself to the limit in every aspect and, once he crosses that line onto the field, his mindset becomes to work as hard as he can for every inch."

Otterbein coaches and players took immediate notice of Lowe during 2015 preseason camp after the full-throttle newcomer had to be transported to Mount Carmel St. Ann's hospital as a result of dehydration and exhaustion.

"His approach is very simple… go 110 percent in everything," Otterbein head coach Tim Doup explained. "The switch is on all of the time and an off button doesn't even exist. I think our players are continuing to realize they can improve through Julian. You're certainly getting better if you're trying to out-perform him."

Lowe's work ethic translated into a standout individual season for the Cardinals last fall, capturing first team All-Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) honors after ranking second in the league for receptions (77) receiving yards (861) and receiving touchdowns (12). He had the most single-season catches by an Otterbein player since 1990, with his 7.7 grabs per game ranking 11th nationally.

"Do not lose," said Lowe, when asked to describe his approach to athletics. "I'm a competitor and will do whatever it takes to help my team win. If I have to sit out for the team, I'll do it. If I have to catch 25 passes in a game, I'll try and do that too. It's whatever it has to be."

Making his 2015-16 year even more impressive was Lowe morphing into a standout performer in track and field, a sport he had not competed in since high school. Lowe set Otterbein indoor records in the 200 meters, 400 meters and as part of the 4x2 and 4x4 relay squads. He was named the OAC Indoor Sprinter of the Year after victories in both relays and the 200, the latter coming in a conference record time of 22.19 seconds, and qualified for the NCAA Division III Indoor Championships.

"Running track helps keep that competition mindset year round," explained Lowe, who also took part in both outdoor track and spring football practice. "It makes me faster, but it also doesn't allow me to take a break and get complacent. It's another type of training that adds to different aspects of the game."

Lowe, now 22 years old, enters this fall with three more semesters of eligibility, meaning he is able to play two more seasons of football and run one more year of track. He will now be an unquestioned leader of a Cardinal team eager to improve on its 4-6 record a year ago.

"Last year I was focused on fitting in and just helping the team in any capacity," Lowe said. "This year, I want to share my mindset more and try to get the most out of every teammate. People can say whatever they want about my production, but one person is not going to win a football game."

"Julian is a vocal leader and people naturally follow him," Doup added. "He obviously had a great first year with us but I expect him to build on that this coming fall. He has a chance to be the top wide receiver in the conference."

Lowe's success is no accident. Anyone watching the preparation easily understands his results once the lights come on. He dares you to try and outwork him but will be the first to give respect where and when it's due.

LeBron James, perhaps the most famous athlete in the world today, delivered a memorable quote upon returning to Cleveland by saying "In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have." Lowe may not necessarily be from the same portion of the state as James, or compete on the same level, but you better believe he shares the same mindset.

"Otterbein has given me a chance to be the leader I want to be," said Lowe, who will help represent Otterbein at OAC Football Media Day come August 9th in Canton. "I have faced adversity and realize the type of work ethic necessary to succeed. I've tried to bring some of that here and feel grateful to Otterbein for providing support and a platform to reach goals."

An allied health major, Lowe hopes to play football for as long as possible and then begin a full-time career as a personal trainer/life coach. In the meantime, you'll notice him as the 5'11", 190-pound chiseled competitor wearing Otterbein's No. 11 football jersey or a track uniform… rallying the troops with every chance he gets. Grab your gear, and follow his lead.