The 2013 NFL draft has officially concluded, with 254 players now preparing to make the transition from draft prospects to rookies. Absent from the list of players drafted, however, was Olympic discus thrower Lawrence Okoye.
Proud to announce that I will be signing with the San Francisco @49ers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!— Lawrence Okoye (@Okoye) April 27, 2013
No word just yet on the terms of his contract.
Okoye is a tantalizing player in terms of his physical gifts, as the 21-year-old stands at 6'6" and 304 pounds with 34.5" arms. On top of his extraordinary build, Okoye is supremely athletic both in terms of strength and speed.
For perspective on how gifted he is, take this note from Bucky Brooks of NFL.com:
The British Olympian was the talk of the [Super Regional Combine] after putting together a spectacular showing on the turf. Checking in at 6-foot-6 and 304 pounds with 34 1/2-inch arms, Okoye blazed the 40-yard dash in 4.78 seconds and posted impressive numbers in the vertical (35 inches) and broad jumps (10-foot-5).
Okoye had previously met with the 49ers, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
At the 2011 European Athletics Under-23 Championships in Ostrava, Czech Republic, Okoye burst onto the scene by winning the gold medal in the discus throw. At the 2012 London Olympics, Okoye was a finalist in the same event.
So what makes him think he can make it as a professional football player?
Okoye was a star as a junior rugby player, displaying marvelous power and brutal physicality. That has sparked the belief that he could make it at the next level as a defensive lineman.
For those hoping to see him in action, take a look at the following video of his time at the previously alluded to Super Regional Combine.
As impressive as he was physically, it was what he said that mattered most.
In the video, Okoye states that he believes a veteran team can make him into the player his physical gifts permit. He also states that he understands that it will be an uphill battle, but his willpower is strong enough to enable him to succeed.
It just so happens that Okoye's heading to a veteran team that has the personnel to build the Olympian into the player he believes he can be.
The 49ers defense is led by masterminds such as head coach Jim Harbaugh, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. With so many gifted minds, it now comes down to Okoye's will to work and improve.
If what Okoye said is true to his character, the future may be bright.