Justin Birkenholz has had an interesting childhood. He is a triplet and each child has taken a different path. His brother is into business and architecture and attends a Magnet School that has those special programs, his sister is a creative type who enjoys writing, and Justin is the athlete. Ricki, his sister, is an inspiration for him and the whole family- all three babies were born premature, but she suffered a particular hardship being born without one lung, but persevered and thrived. Justin has that same fight and drive in him. As an athlete he was a Kempo Karate champion at age 12 and has played multiple sports growing up.
Birkenholz is now focused on football and talked about his style, "I am very coachable, very versatile, I move around from strong-side to weak-side, some safety, I like to hit, and I feel I have an excellent grasp of the game." Coaches in the area rave about his ability to simply not miss tackles, he missed a total of three tackles as a junior. Birkenholz plays downhill which is a quality that projects well to the next level, he makes a lot of plays at or behind the line of scrimmage.
Because Justin played other sports, particularly Wrestling, he has never 'blown up' in the off-season. However, he is now 100% committed to Football and the results are staring to show. "I am up from 180ish after the season to 203, I am getting stronger every day, my ideal weight for senior year is 210." Birkenholz is also working with Sly Johnson, one of the fastest players to come out of South Florida....ever. "He works us hard and we love it, my 40 has dropped from 4.8 to 4.65ish, I would like to get that down to sub 4.6." Another factor for Justin is that he is just 16 years old and is just beginning to scratch the surface of what his ceiling will be.
Justin also takes care of business off the field as well. He has a 3.12 core GPA and a 900 on the SAT, "I can do better on that SAT, I will take it again and perhaps the ACT as well."
The Birkenholz family is originally from Long Island and that is reflected in the schools that interest Justin, we talked about his favorites:
Boston College : "They are well coached, physical, and have the academics I am looking for. Tough team with tough players who come out of there."
Connecticut : "I like that is close to the big cities, they are on the rise, they have been consistent."
Rutgers : "That is my #1, my family is in the area, they have a great team, and their training program is one of the best in the country."
North Carolina State : "I have gotten a lot of letters from them, they have a new training facility that is the best in the country, I like the ACC and I would have the opportunity to play closer to home."
Pittsburgh : "I really like the academics and Coach Wannstedt has an NFL background."
FAU : "It is a local option, I love the coaches I have met from there. They do a tremendous job evaluating talent."
Wisconsin : "Big 10 football, get to play the Ohio State's and Michigan's, they are consistent and I really like the LB's coach. I've heard they have a great campus atmosphere."
This is going to be a big summer for Justin. He plans on attending the Rutgers camp, probably B.C., and perhaps a few more in the area. He is focused on football and on three main goals: "I want our team to win Districts and make a run in the playoffs, I want to challenge myself as an athlete to be the best that I can become, and I want to keep learning the little things that make good football players, great."
Justin Birkenholz Junior Highlights