San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman and British Olympian Lawrence Okoye is trying to do the unthinkable and make an NFL roster despite never playing a down of organized football before. Okoye blew scouts away during the draft process with his rare combination of size and speed, and he continued to impress during the team’s OTAs.
Okoye recently spoke out about his first real football experience and he says that it was even harder than anything he has done in the past.
“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” Okoye said, according to England’s Shortlist magazine.
Okoye is just 21 years old, but he has accomplished a lot in his young athletic career. The determination and dedication that it takes to become an Olympian is rare, and it shows that he will be willing to do what it takes to succeed.
Despite putting in yours of hard work to make the Olympics as a discus thrower, Okoye says that this is a whole different kind of training and challenge.
“The two things are worlds apart,” he said. “But there is crossover in terms of the work I do in the weights room where – for the past couple of years in particular – the objective has been to build size, strength and, most importantly, explosive power. Right now, my training time is spent between specific position drills, conditioning and weight training. It’s different each day, but the circuit stuff designed to improve my anaerobic fitness is the real killer.”
Okoye certainly has the athleticism to become an NFL player, but it remains to be seen if he can actually hack it on the field.
The good news for Okoye is that he is already impressing coaches despite never playing football before and now he has all of training camp and the preseason to try to convince the 49ers he is worth a roster spot.
At the very least, we’d have to imagine that Okoye can land on a practice squad.