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SPORTS

British Olympian bids for NFL future
Josh Modaberi catches a few words with draft-day hopeful Lawrence Okoye
April 23, 2013


Lawrence Okoye hopes to translate Olympian strength into NFL success. Photo by David Shopland.
The NFL draft begins Thursday April 25 and there will be quite a bit of interest from this side of the pond with two and perhaps even three Brits — FSU’s Menelik Watson, Oklahoma’s Tom Wort, and Olympian Lawrence Okoye — in contention to get picked up during the draft.

Okoye, from Croydon, South London is a keen academic and has an outstanding place at Oxford Law school which he is keen to accept sometime in the future. His sporting career began playing rugby union at Whitgift school before graduating to the academies at London Irish and Wasps. He took up the discus in 2010 and went on to record the fifth longed throw in the world, 68.42m, two months before the London 2012 Olympic games, although managing only 12th at the Olympics.

“There are things that I have learned from Rugby and discus that will help me in my NFL career,” the 21-year-old told The American. “Discus is all about producing power from the ground up and that is something that football is all about on the defensive line.

“The same goes for rugby obviously, where you learn to keep your hips down and make tackles. You can transfer as many skills from other sports but it is no replacement for playing the game itself.

“I don’t have any experience playing football so it is going to be one hell of a job. It’s going to be tough so I just want to make sure that I just keep working hard.”

The 6'6", 304lb Okoye headed over to the United States for a bit of warm weather training and whilst out there he decided to attend the NFL’s Regional Combine in Atlanta. After impressing there, he headed to the Super Regionals in Dallas. He has caught the eye of a number of top sides include Dallas Cowboys’ chief talent scout Gil Brandt who said of Okoye, “Of all the guys there, he seemed to be the class of defensive linesman.”

The NFL draft will take place for three days at Radio City Music Hall in New York from Thursday April 25 to Saturday April 27. Last year 2000 young players were up for the draft with only 253 selected. Okoye is hoping to be one of the few to be selected this year, but his ambitions are far greater than just being a squad member.

“It has been something that I’ve had in the back of my mind for a long time so I decided to got for it. I felt if I didn’t do it now, then I never would,” Okoye continued. “It is something that I want to prove to myself more than anything. I’ve had whispers in my ear for a long time that I should consider doing this and I finally decided I should give it a go.

“Every decision I’ve ever made has been made on my own, but I do have people that help guide me and I’ve had great mentors in my short sporting career. I’m in a really fortunate position so I just need to make sure I take the opportunity and don’t look back.

“Success for me is being a dominant player in the league,” he proclaimed. “I could be playing this year, I could be playing in two years or I could be playing in four years. I’m not abandoning a potentially very successful discus career just to be a nobody in the league.

“I’m the kind of guy who wants to do well in everything I do and I feel like I have the tools to get it done in the league. In 2010 when I started throwing the discus, no-one would have thought that I would have made it to the level I achieved in just two years, so I’m looking to do something similar.”

Lawrence Okoye — Super Regional Combine notes
Age: 21
Height: 6-6
Weight: 304 pounds
Arms: 34.5 inches
40-yard: 4.78 seconds
Vertical Jump: 35 inches
Broad Jump: 10-5

The Last Word on the NFL Draft...
The NFL Draft is more than an Insta-grade on Friday morning, or three nights of position picks. The trades... the picks... the talent... the needs fulfilled and unfulfilled. From the first pick to the priority free agents, The American's mid-week post-draft analysis gives you THE WHOLE PICTURE on how your team helped themselves throughout Draft Week. Join us for the First Reaction on Friday to the Full Grades through next week.

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