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Penn State's Joey Julius reveals battle with eating disorder

Written by Frank Bodani/York Daily Record | Oct 4, 2016 8:29 AM
joe_Julius.jpg

Kickoff specialist Joey Julius has become a national phenomenon for his big body blows on ball carriers and blockers. The latest attention, though, is focused on him revealing how he's been dealing with a serious eating disorder. (Photo: Matt Slocum/The Associated Press)

(Undated) -- He already may be the most famous kickoff man in the nation.

But now there's much more to the Penn State sophomore than booming kickoffs and those crushing hits that energizes his fans. Joey Julius wants to reach out and help others who may be battling the same eating disorder he is.

He wrote a Monday Facebook post that described a long off-field struggle that finally drove him to seek clinical treatment. He described how a stay in a St. Louis facility took him away from the Nittany Lions this past spring and summer.

No one outside of the program or his family and friends knew why he had not been practicing with the team or what he had dealt with during his comeback this fall.

"Due to my increase in not only weight but also depression and anxiety my team physicians started to notice not only a change in my overall happiness but also my performance as a normal human being," Julius wrote in his post. "Throughout this whole process I learned a lot about myself. I learned that for the last 11 years of my life I have suffered through a disorder known as binge eating disorder.

"I have no one to thank except for Coach James Franklin and my training staff and doctors that stuck with me throughout this whole process. They all noticed that I was not myself and that I needed extensive care ..."

Julius concluded his post by urging those who may need help to seek it like he did.

"If anyone and I mean anyone guy or girl is struggling with the the same or anything similar please message me as I will be in immediate contact to help in any way I can to provide information or insight on my struggles and I would love to help. Praise be to God and thank him for my ability to be honest about this."

Penn State officials have not made Julius available to the media yet this season and did not officially comment on his situation or his Facebook post. In a statement to the Daily Collegian, Franklin expressed his pride and support for Julius but said he and other university officials would not discuss a player's "medical affairs" and asked the public to respect Julius in this matter, as well.

This comes after Julius has morphed into a national phenomenon of sorts by regularly delivering huge hits on ball carriers and blockers each game -- even getting into a tussle with a Minnesota player last Saturday that eventually led to Julius taking a cheap shot and drawing a personal foul penalty.

Before all this, he was a soccer star at Lower Dauphin High. Once at Penn State he quickly gained notoriety, as well as his "Big Toe" nickname, with his most unusual body type for a kicker, peaking at 271 pounds in this season's media guide. He eventually lost that starting job midway through 2015 and disappeared from any action by season's end.

He came back to the Lions this fall as the kickoff specialist while Tyler Davis handles field goals and extra points.

 

This story is part of a partnership between WITF and the York Daily Record.

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