Former Union Academy forward Joey Julius has been named the starting placekicker for the Penn State football team heading into their season opener against Temple at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday.
Julius was a member of the Union Academy when it was in its infant stages, but played a role in its first major accomplishment when he scored a goal in the final for the Generation adidas Cup the U-17 team won in 2012. The goal was one of three the Hummelstown native who spent four years with PA Classics Academy scored in the competition.
Goalkeeper Zack Steffen, Union midfielder Zach Pfeffer and Penn State junior forward Connor Maloney were also on that team.
Julius initially planned to continue his soccer career in college, verbally committing to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville for the class of 2014 in the winter of 2013, but backed out of his commitment and opted to walk onto the famed football program at Penn State instead.
After sitting out his freshman year as redshirt, Julius was given the chance to compete for the position in training camp this year against fellow walk-on and friend Tyler Davis from Illinois. According to news reports, Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin said this week that the competition between the two was very close so his current No. 1 position in the depth chart is anything but secure.
Still, some credit can be given to the Philadelphia Union's youth setup for helping him develop into the college football kicker he has become, even if it is in a different sport. During a media day for the team last month, the 5-foot-10, 259 pound kicker said his experience as a goal scorer taught him to quickly get over the misses that come so much more often than the makes.