ABC News(NEW YORK) — Joey Julius is a college football sensation whose size, nearly 260 pounds, and oversized prowess as a Penn State kicker make him adored by fans.
Julius recently revealed that what his fans love most about him is what he secretly hated.
“I was always calling myself fat, disgusting, lazy, ugly,” Julius told ABC News’ Paula Faris in an interview that aired today on Good Morning America. “My name is Joey Julius and I have an eating disorder.”
Julius, 21, first opened up about his absence from the Penn State team in an Oct. 3 post on Facebook. He revealed he entered a treatment center for eating disorders in St. Louis in May after noticing an increase in his weight, 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.
Julius told Faris he had no idea that he had an eating disorder, or even what an eating disorder was prior to treatment.
“I just said, ‘What’s that?’” Julius recalled. “[I had] no idea.”
Julius specifically suffered from binge eating disorder, when people lose control over their food intake and often eat large amounts of food at one time, even if they’re not hungry and often when they’re alone.
Julius said he believes there are other men struggling with eating disorders who are too ashamed to come forward.
“Because I was one of those guys,” he said.
Julius said his binge eating would involve eating a salad in front of his teammates but then hiding food in his backpack to take to his room to eat alone. He said he would order cheesesteak, French fries and Chinese food and binge eat until he was sick.
“I would have to lay down to the point where I was so sick I couldn’t move and [I would] just, you know, lay there,” he said. “And there were sometimes I would cry.”
Julius returned to Penn State after treatment and is now back on the football field with the Nittany Lions for the 2016 season.
He calls himself “blessed” and said entering treatment made him realize that his binge eating disorder could have killed him.
“After, I think, I got the treatment, that’s when I was like, ‘You know what? If I would have continued down this path, you know, I might not be here right now,’” he said. “And that’s why I’m just blessed.”
Julius also expressed gratitude to his Penn State family for helping him see that he needed treatment.
“I had the people that saw,” he said.
Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.