This weekend the San Francisco 49ers began their rookie minicamp, which means former English rugby star Lawrence Okoye played his first down of football and he’s ready to work.
“I’m just trying to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible,” Okoye said. “They’re doing great with me. They’re not trying to force-feed me. They’re giving me the little snippets I need for today. Tomorrow, I’ll get more snippets I need for tomorrow. So I’m going to take each day as it comes.”
Even though this was Okoye’s first time on the gridiron, 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh made it clear that the former British Olympian’s practice was no more important than any other rookie.
“Everybody is starting with their first step,” Harbaugh said. “He’s right in there… And all of us, we’ve all got a long road ahead, tough road to hoe. But, we’ve got to be patient along the way and it starts with the first day.”
Even with Coach Harbaugh’s strong statement, it was clear that Okoye had at least a couple more pairs of eyes on him. Both General manager Trent Baalke and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio kept a close eye on Okoye as he ran through drills with the rest of San Francisco’s defensive linemen.
As Friday’s practice progressed it became more clear that Okoye will most likely line up as a defensive tackle for the 49ers, considering he’s one of the bigger linemen on the team. Even with his 6’6″ 300 lb size Okoye showed off his speed during a special teams drill. When fielding a kick, Okoye reached the kick returner at the same time as a linebacker in one of the reps.
After Okoye’s first couple of days we still know one thing, he still has rugby on his mind. In his press conference Friday Okoye mistakenly called the football field a “pitch” when answering a reporter’s question.
On a side note to all of you mothers out there, Happy Mother’s Day from us at RWU!