San Francisco, CA – San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Lawrence Okoye is taking an unusual root to the NFL. I have already highlighted this football prospect a couple months ago, but as training camp approaches and his first sessions of team activites have passed, it’s good to take another look at Lawrence Okoye.
The undrafted free agent from London had never played organized football until this spring and now he has a great opportunity to make the 49ers 53-man roster. Okoye is a former discus and rugby star turn football rookie. Prior to his signing with the 49ers, Okoye was participating in the London Olympics representing the host nation last summer. The British track and field star finished 12th in the Olympics.
Prior to the Olympics, while attending Whitgift School in South London in his teenage years, Okoye played rugby union in the Daily Mail Schools Rugby Under 18 final at Twickenham in 2010 as a winger. Aside from playing in the Daily Mail Schools Rugby Under 18 final in 2010, Okoye played for both the London Irish and London Wasps.
However, now that Okoye is in American, playing a bit different sport, he has to learn on the fly.
“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, I’m under no illusions,” Okoye told the Sacramento Bee.
According to the newspaper, Okoye took more snaps on the defensive line than any other player this spring. At 6’6″ 304 lbs, Okoye brings a lot of potential, but little accumulation to the 49ers. It makes sense for the British athlete to take more snaps than any other player at his position because he has the most to learn.
“He’s like all these rookies here except he’s never played football before,” Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio told Comcast Sports Net. “So magnify it to that degree. He’s got a lot to learn. Not just learn. Guys play peewee football, high school football, college football for a reason. And he hasn’t. So he’ll have a lot to learn. But I don’t think we’ll get a true picture of him for a while.”
Whether or not Okoye makes the 53-man roster is yet to be seen, but the potential for the newbie certainly makes this an interesting situation to watch.