DITR: DL/DE Justin Wells, Isidore Newman College Preparatory (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Justin Wells is a 6’1, 240 lb defensive lineman from the class of 2025. He strikes fear into opposing quarterbacks from his sheer domination. Justin had a career season last year, totaling 52 tackles and 7 sacks. He was a key piece of Newman’s Defense, and helped lead them to the semi finals of the Louisiana Division III High School Football Playoffs. Justin is a very powerful young man, almost always needing a double- team block to stop him. His sheer size and strength help him get to the quarterback with ease. In the gym, Justin can deadlift 550 lbs while also squatting 465 lbs. Strength is not Justin’s only attribute, as he is extremely agile for a lineman. During Gridiron Football’s most recent Elite Camp in Covington, Justin ran a 5.0 second 3 cone shuttle. Watching him participate in these drills was mind blowing. A man of his stature shouldn’t be able to turn on a dime like he can. He added to this impressive performance with a 7 foot, 6 inch broad jump. Here is where he showed his explosiveness. Justin has tremendous lower body strength and balance that help him shoot off the line and into the backfield. Justin was considered a top performer at Gridiron’s camp, earning himself a pair of Gridiron Football gloves. Justin showed an immense amount of grit during every drill, not stopping until long after the whistle had been blown. His domination during lineman drills was very apparent as well. It was impossible to block Justin, no matter if it was 1 or 2 guys going against him. Justin tore up the competition during tire tug-of-war, showcasing his brute strength once again. Justin was very deserving of the “top performer” title in every aspect. He is a very bright young man, boasting an impressive 3.1 GPA. His answers were very thoughtful and he understands the game of football better than most. Justin Wells is a name to look out for next year as he dominates his competition.

What motivates you to play the game of football?

My love for the game honestly. The relationships I’ve made and the knowledge I have gained from my coaches is worth so much to me. The knowledge that has been passed down to me from older players is another reason that I always keep pushing. I want to give that same knowledge to younger kids. I really just love football as a whole.

What is your biggest strength on the field?

My ability to play anywhere between, or outside the tackles to make a play. My coaches tell me how much the defense depends on me, especially in the run game. It’s to the point where my side is almost untouchable.

You guys had a tough loss in the semi finals to Calvary Baptist. How are you, and the team, learning from that loss to improve next season?

That was definitely a tough one. We have a chip on our shoulder after that game. We felt like we had something to prove last year without Arch, and we still have more to prove this year. We want to show that we are a great team that can win the championship without all of the lights and popularity. I think that we have that underdog mentality again this year, and were going to build off that.
Justin (far right) with the other top performers at the Gridiron Football Elite Camp in Covington

Being from Newman and playing with Arch Manning, what are some of the ways he would motivate the team and really be that leader that everyone says he is?

Arch was always at workouts and practice 30 minutes early. He was always that guy that would push you while also pushing himself. He was a great leader by example, but he would also help you out if he saw you struggling and gave you encouragement. He was always willing to work and put in the time and effort. His leadership was all around. He was a guy we could lean on and go to if we ever had a problem. He was very vocal.

You were a top 5 performer at our most recent Gridiron Elite Camp, what are some things you learned from that camp that you will take into next season?

That grit and ability to just go. That was the mindset I went into the drills. The coaches were teaching us that we have to be the best we can and not allow anyone to outperform us. You gotta be better than the next person. The game pretty much starts with us so if we play with that confidence and grit, the game will go in our favor.

What is your dream college to play football for, and have you been in talks with any colleges recently?

The college that I have wanted to play for since I was a young kid is University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon. My options are still very open and I want to play football anywhere. I’ve been talking to the defensive line coach at Nicholls State as well.

What is the most challenging part of playing in the trenches?

The physicality aspect of it. You can’t take a play off because there isn’t a play where you are not making contact with someone. I think the physical wear and tear is something youn have to fight through. You want to make the play or be the guy that’s gonna tear the other team apart. I would say the physicality aspect is the hardest part. Additionally, you have to keep the mental grind. You gotta remember the plays and know the guy in front of you is trying to knock you backwards.

Who do you try and model your game after?

Chase Young. When I watched him play college ball he was unstoppable. When he got to the league it was the same thing. He was like Aaron Donald where you need multiple guys to stop him. The mentality that one person can’t stop me is what I live by.

Do you have a favorite personal highlight of yourself?

Last year, I got a strip sack that was returned for 30 yards. It was one of the first drives of the game and really set the tone for us. Our defense was on fire.

Being a lineman, would you rather return a fumble for a touchdown, or intercept the ball off the line?

Thank God, I’ve had opportunities for both. Honestly that interception feeling is great, but there is something about getting in the endzone as a lineman that is an indescribable feeling. It’s a certain joy that you feel when you get into the endzone. You’ve been working so hard to get there and it’s not even something that is a true goal. It’s an indescribable experience.
Justin participating in the broad jump