Olympian Lawrence Okoye Discusses San Francisco 49ers OTA Experience

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.

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Tags: Lawrence Okoye San Francisco 49ers

  • loverpoint

    The first hurdle for every UDFA is just getting some sort of recognition. Hurdle 1 accomplished. Not only did he get a bunch of attention for his physical prowess at the Combine for players who are flying under the radar. Hurdle #2 Defensive Line Coach Jim Tomsula took interest in Okoye, and gave Okoye a realistic timeline of what he would be expecting from him to make the team, apparently Tomsulas little talk with Okoye inspired him. Okoye chose the 49ers as the team he thought would be best for him to further his cause. Okoye knew how deep the 49ers are and realistically said that he would give himself 2 years to make the team, and if one of those years happened to be on the practice squad, so be it. Hurdle #3 is just being accepted on the 90 man roster, he has got his foot in the door. The next hurdle will be staying healthy and make some progress throughout the summer and preseason and then at least make the practice squad.

    The other hurdles will be making the 53 man squad and then the 46 activated player squad.

    Finding a spot on the 49er roster will be difficult. The 49ers have 17 players from the 2012 and 2013 drafts that the 49ers still seem uncertain about.

    Right now I can see Okoye taking the roster spot of Will Tukuafu who is listed as the backup FB/DT on the 49er roster. The reason I pick Tukuafu is because of the age difference Okoye is 21 and Tukuafu is 29 years old.