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British discus thrower hoping to make it in the NFL

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Lawrence Okoye, an English track and field athlete who came in 12th in the discus at last year’s Olympics, has a new athletic ambition: Making it in the NFL.

Okoye wrote on Twitter today that he is making American football his primary priority.

“Just wanted to confirm that I have decided that I want to play American Football in the NFL,” Okoye wrote.

The 6-foot-6, 294-pound Okoye looks the part of an NFL defensive end, and he said after attending one of the NFL’s regional combines that he got good feedback from NFL coaches — good enough that he now plans to put all his focus on making it in the NFL, to the point where he’s planning to skip this summer’s world championships in the discus.

“I came over to the States for warm-weather training for my discus,” Okoye told the Daily Mail. “But when I saw that there was an American Football Regional Combine taking place in Atlanta, I applied online. And when I passed, I went along. At the combine, I really stood out because of my size, strength and speed. I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I was good on the day — to the point that a lot of NFL clubs began talking to me immediately on the back of it. They all see me as a defensive end, which suits me just fine. I’ve had some meetings since, and done some private workouts with some clubs, too, and already they are talking to me about contracts even before the Super Combine in Dallas next weekend. I’m talking about some of the best known and biggest teams. With the college drafts not taking place until the end of April, I won’t be officially signing anything or becoming a pro footballer until then, but I have no reason to believe that it’s not going to happen.”

The 21-year-old Okoye is eligible to be drafted, although it seems unlikely that any team will use a pick on a player who has never played American football at any level. However, there’s a good chance some team will sign him as an undrafted free agent. And if he’s serious about football and willing to put in the work, there’s a real chance he’ll be on an NFL field some day.

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58 Responses to “British discus thrower hoping to make it in the NFL”
  1. doomsdaydefensetx says: Mar 31, 2013 12:18 PM

    3 word to coach this guy: rush the quarterback

  2. themagicman1223 says: Mar 31, 2013 12:25 PM

    He’s an athlete but not everyone can play football. It might take a couple of years until we see him on the field but he’s only 21 years old. If the coaches put time and effort into him he could pay off.

  3. 619sdfan4life says: Mar 31, 2013 12:26 PM

    That’s a good story. Wish the kid all the luck in the world.

  4. wrenches2pipes says: Mar 31, 2013 12:30 PM

    Good luck with that Lawrence. The discus doesn’t hit back.

  5. mikealstott says: Mar 31, 2013 12:39 PM

    Change his first name to Christian and make him a running back….

  6. jerrykramer says: Mar 31, 2013 12:48 PM

    Okoye is a former Rugger, and could be alot further along developmentally than people think.

  7. EJ says: Mar 31, 2013 12:55 PM

    Okoye definitely looks the part of an NFL Defensive End, but just because you look like a player doesn’t necessarily mean you will play like one. Has he ever attempted to tackle anyone? You can be strong and fast, but if you can’t tackle, your worthless. Maybe he can find an active or retired DE/LB to teach him everything he needs to know? Maybe Ray Lewis or London Fletcher? Bruce Smith? Anyway, I wish him the best of luck!

  8. capitaosuecia says: Mar 31, 2013 1:01 PM

    The guy does not know the meaning of the words “first down” or “offside”;
    There´s so much talent deserving chance everywhere around, clubs should stop hoping freakish athletes would pick up the game in 3 days…

  9. avr29 says: Mar 31, 2013 1:06 PM

    He seems like the perfect John Schneider/Pete Carroll 7th round pick. Last year, they took a defensive tackle in the 7th and moved him to guard. They love looking at guys with potential in the last couple rounds. Clemons has 2 years left on his contract, Avril is on a 2 year deal, and Bennett is on a 1 year deal, so developing him behind them would be perfect.

    It’s also nice to see athletes from other countries taking a serious interest in playing American football. It would certainly help the NFL’s global marketing, especially if whatever team he lands on ends up playing a game in London.

  10. greysolon says: Mar 31, 2013 1:11 PM

    His sack dance will be fun to watch– spinning around and simulating a discus throw. Just don’t use the QBs helmet.

  11. wrenches2pipes says: Mar 31, 2013 1:19 PM

    “Former rugger.”Can you name one who was any good playing NFL football?

  12. nickster31 says: Mar 31, 2013 1:40 PM

    Great story and all, but the odds of this guy making an NFL roster are slim and none.

    Look at some of the men that have gone on to do other things in life because they didn’t make it in the NFL, and they played the sport their entire lives.

    This guy has NEVER learned to tackle, never learned how to shed a block, how to read a back field. Great story and all, but he would need AT LEAST 2-3 years to even learn how to play the game, and another 2-3 years to develop the instincts to be able to play at the NFL level.

    Ain’t no teams got time for that.

  13. arbiterflick says: Mar 31, 2013 1:50 PM

    Do the people saying he’s “never made a tackle before” not realise he’s been playing Rugby almost his entire life?

  14. ahs2 says: Mar 31, 2013 2:13 PM

    The guy looks like a freak…perfect for practice squad.

  15. ialwayswantedtobeabanker says: Mar 31, 2013 2:18 PM

    As an American, I respect, admire and appreciate our brothers from Britain, Germany, Australia and the Pacific Islands who embrace our brand of football.

    They deserve our respect and support, and I wish this gentleman all the best — but he does have to understand there’s a huge chasm between being fast/strong/athletic and making the grade at the NFL level. There are so many accounts of athletes with off-the-charts physical skillsets who want no part of an NFL field. Just ask Mike Tyson or Shaquille O’Neal or Charles Barkely or (insert name) how much they wanted to ball out on Sundays on an NFL field in autumn.

    Seems like a solid guy — I hope it works out for the man.

  16. nosaints254 says: Mar 31, 2013 2:24 PM

    If I were one of the 2 team playing in London this year . I surely wants to bring him in for a try out

  17. granadafan says: Mar 31, 2013 2:31 PM

    Is this what the NFL has degenerated into now? Let’s just put big fast-ish guys in uniforms from around the world and to heck with actual ability to play in the NFL. We might as well since Roger and the lawyers are doing their best to ruin American football as we know it.

  18. thegreatgabbert says: Mar 31, 2013 2:39 PM

    Well, if he starts playing football at 21, he will get an earlier start at it than Methuselah Ansah did.

  19. watchdawg1103 says: Mar 31, 2013 2:45 PM

    Physically I have no doubt he could play defensive end. He’s young enough to learn still and have some good years ahead of him if he truly puts in the time.

  20. psilenttype says: Mar 31, 2013 2:46 PM

    This is where a minor league football would be a great help!

  21. egomaniac247 says: Mar 31, 2013 3:13 PM

    I don’t meant to sound arrogant but… (proceeds to sound arrogant)

  22. dfh3456 says: Mar 31, 2013 3:27 PM

    With the 3rd pick in 1st rd, the Oakland Raiders select……….

  23. tangysizzl says: Mar 31, 2013 3:29 PM

    Seems like a guy the Packers should sign as a undrafted FA. Ted Thompson loves these underdog type of signings and lord knows they could use his length and strength on their D line.

  24. Obama's Ballsack says: Mar 31, 2013 3:51 PM

    I was all for it until I saw what color he was. I don’t need to see anymore black people making more money than me.

  25. sellout1983 says: Mar 31, 2013 4:11 PM

    Just because you’re big fast and strong doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a good football player. All NFT players are big fast and strong. Time will tell about this guy.

  26. bhindenemylines says: Mar 31, 2013 4:13 PM

    Remember when Michael Jordan try to play pro baseball? He at least played it as a child. And football players, especially DEs, play with more technique than baseball players. Can’t blame the guy for dreaming, but any team would be foolish to waste a draft pick on him. As another poster said a minor league would be great for him. Maybe try the CFL first?

  27. tremoluxman says: Mar 31, 2013 4:37 PM

    That guy would make an incredible FB, MLB, or TE.
    Offense or defense, I wouldn’t want to go up against him. *ouch*

  28. bigdinla says: Mar 31, 2013 4:37 PM

    Haloti Ngata was a very good rugby player.

  29. thegreatgabbert says: Mar 31, 2013 4:39 PM

    Larry had trouble getting close to the quarterback, but could take his head off from 60 yards away with a well sharpened discus.

  30. laserrocketarm12 says: Mar 31, 2013 4:39 PM

    Sounds like the perfect Patriots or Seahawks late round gamble. Would love to see him throw Carson Palmer, Gabbert, Brady, etc. like a discuss.

  31. themagicman1223 says: Mar 31, 2013 4:47 PM

    Obama’s Ballsack must be the two dumbest individuals i’ve ever seen.

  32. citizenstrange says: Mar 31, 2013 4:47 PM

    As they say in prison. Beechus throw discus.

  33. kenny328usa says: Mar 31, 2013 4:55 PM

    I don’t mean to sound arrogant but, wrong kind of football dude go back to London

  34. ninerfan49 says: Mar 31, 2013 5:49 PM

    Jeff Stover was a Track only guy from Oregon and he turned out to have a good career for the 49ers so maybe this guy can do it too! Best of luck to him.

  35. seaeagle707 says: Mar 31, 2013 6:04 PM

    First thing he has to learn, the NFL does not suspend practices at 4P.M., tea time you know.

  36. ghjjf says: Mar 31, 2013 7:02 PM

    Well the Patriots look to be losing a player to the Olympics so maybe the Olympics can lose an athlete to the Patriots.

  37. devidisi says: Mar 31, 2013 7:25 PM

    It’s a good human interest story. I was hoping for the athletic 400lb lineman who could dunk, with Buffalo to make it. This guy might have a better chance.

  38. jack3dsd says: Mar 31, 2013 7:31 PM

    why exactly does he think he can play NFL football when 100s of college players just as big and fast can’t cut it every year

  39. bigzant82 says: Mar 31, 2013 8:17 PM

    cleveland browns please sign or draft him if Horton can develop this guy n teach him he’s be terror in the AFC North for years

  40. 69finfan says: Mar 31, 2013 8:56 PM

    The Jests need somebody/anybody that can throw something/anything.

  41. beavertonsteve says: Apr 1, 2013 1:56 AM

    What would keep him from attending college (and learning to play football) for a couple years?

  42. bryco9 says: Apr 1, 2013 10:19 AM

    Sounds a lot like the Brock Lesnar project 6-8yrs ago with the Vikings. Super freak athlete, but not an NFL caliber player and he played though high school. You can be the biggest, strongest SOB in the whole world, if you don’t know the game it doesn’t matter. 99.9% of the guys in this league have been playing since 8yrs old, they don’t have to think about it, they just react and that is how this game is played. Go luck

  43. ayrshireman says: Apr 2, 2013 9:39 AM

    ‘The guy does not know the meaning of the words “first down” or “offside”;’

    Rubbish. He is a fan, and has watched the NFL on British TV all his life (weve had the sport live on our tv for over 30 years)

  44. ayrshireman says: Apr 2, 2013 9:40 AM

    ‘He’s an athlete but not everyone can play football. It might take a couple of years until we see him on the field but he’s only 21 years old. If the coaches put time and effort into him he could pay off.’

    To be honest, the ‘necessity’ of experience for the NFL is overrated. Look at Jimmy Graham.

  45. ayrshireman says: Apr 2, 2013 9:43 AM

    ‘This guy has NEVER learned to tackle, never learned how to shed a block, how to read a back field. Great story and all, but he would need AT LEAST 2-3 years to even learn how to play the game, and another 2-3 years to develop the instincts to be able to play at the NFL level.’

    Cant tackle?. He’s been a rugby player all his life!

    And the time needed to be an NFL player is overrated, sorry. Yes, experience would help, but this idea you need years of experience?. Look at Jimmy Graham. American sports fans overhype the nuances of the sport. Its gridiron, not quantum physics.

  46. ayrshireman says: Apr 2, 2013 9:44 AM

    ‘Do the people saying he’s “never made a tackle before” not realise he’s been playing Rugby almost his entire life?’

    The knowledge here or in US sports fandom of rugby usually tends to be pitiful.

  47. ayrshireman says: Apr 2, 2013 9:45 AM

    ‘Is this what the NFL has degenerated into now? Let’s just put big fast-ish guys in uniforms from around the world and to heck with actual ability to play in the NFL. We might as well since Roger and the lawyers are doing their best to ruin American football as we know it.’

    The young man is a rugby player and an NFL fan. He knows the game, and as a rugby player, will grasp the game better than someone who comes from another sports background.

  48. jerrykramer says: Apr 2, 2013 6:30 PM

    wrenches2pipes says:
    Mar 31, 2013 1:19 PM
    “Former rugger.”Can you name one who was any good playing NFL football?

    David Dixon. Haloti Ngata. Steve Tasker…

  49. jerrykramer says: Apr 2, 2013 6:31 PM

    wrenches2pipes says:
    Mar 31, 2013 1:19 PM
    “Former rugger.”Can you name one who was any good playing NFL football?

    David Dixon. Haloti Ngata. Steve Tasker…

  50. mrseaballs says: Apr 2, 2013 11:41 PM

    Right on dude take your best shot. You’ll never have to wonder that way.

  51. ashton21 says: Apr 7, 2013 3:32 PM

    “To be honest, the ‘necessity’ of experience for the NFL is overrated. Look at Jimmy Graham”

    Jimmy graham is your example? He attended the University of Miami one of the best college football schools in the country, one year playing there goes along way and just being around the sport here in the u.s helps also.

  52. ashton21 says: Apr 7, 2013 3:59 PM

    “And the time needed to be an NFL player is overrated, sorry. Yes, experience would help, but this idea you need years of experience?. Look at Jimmy Graham. American sports fans overhype the nuances of the sport. Its gridiron, not quantum physics”.

    And in what way is it overrated when most fans who have followed the sport for many years have seen guys just like him try and fail to make it in the league? How is it overrated when fans see only a very small percentaged somewhere in the 2% of college players from all over the country out of the thousands who that have been playing all their lives or atleast years break into the nfl but yet you imply this guy can just walk in no problem because experience is overrated right?
    Maybe he should try for the nba or the mlb as a pitcher aswell with his height and size, he should make it with no problem since the nuances and having experience of basketball or baseball like all american sports are overrated, right? Wrong
    This guy is from a country where the sport is barely played or followed, he may get some attention just for his physical attributes alone, maybe they can mold him into something and if doesnt work out then back to britain he goes. Nfl coaches and scouts see guys like him all the time.
    You simply underestimate what it takes to make it into the nfl, those guys get paid tons money as do coaches, etc and they simply cant screw up by bringing in guys because they are just big and strong, fast but from another country and has never played the sport no less. Using jimmy graham an american born player and who atteneded a football obsessed school as an example just comes from ignorance plain and simple.

  53. ashton21 says: Apr 7, 2013 4:05 PM

    “The knowledge here or in US sports fandom of rugby usually tends to be pitiful”.

  54. ashton21 says: Apr 7, 2013 4:12 PM

    “The knowledge here or in US sports fandom of rugby usually tends to be pitiful”.

    And knowledge of am.football or what it takes to break into the league from brits tends to be pitful aswell. Despite what you may believe rugby player =/= equal nfl superstar.

  55. ashton21 says: Apr 7, 2013 4:16 PM

    “Rubbish. He is a fan, and has watched the NFL on British TV all his life (weve had the sport live on our tv for over 30 years”

    That may be the case, however watching on tv and actually being out their competeing are 2 entirely different things.

  56. ayrshireman says: Apr 12, 2013 4:46 PM

    ‘Jimmy graham is your example? He attended the University of Miami one of the best college football schools in the country, one year playing there goes along way and just being around the sport here in the u.s helps also.’

    Ashton, Graham never played the game at all or took any interest until he was 20-21.

    I have never said anyone can come in and succeed, Okoye may very well flop. What I have been saying is that, despite the idea that you need 10-15-20 years of a background of playing and living the sport 24 hrs a day, you can succeed without it. Only a few will do so, but it has and can be done.

    Of course, it is better if you have that background of years of football. Same with any sport. All I am saying is that it CAN be done by some players with great physical gifts, intelligence and willingness.

    I do think NFL fans in the US tend to overhype the amount of knowledge and experience needed.

  57. ayrshireman says: Apr 12, 2013 4:49 PM

    ‘And in what way is it overrated when most fans who have followed the sport for many years have seen guys just like him try and fail to make it in the league? How is it overrated when fans see only a very small percentaged somewhere in the 2% of college players from all over the country out of the thousands who that have been playing all their lives or atleast years break into the nfl but yet you imply this guy can just walk in no problem because experience is overrated right?
    Maybe he should try for the nba or the mlb as a pitcher aswell with his height and size, he should make it with no problem since the nuances and having experience of basketball or baseball like all american sports are overrated, right? Wrong
    This guy is from a country where the sport is barely played or followed, he may get some attention just for his physical attributes alone, maybe they can mold him into something and if doesnt work out then back to britain he goes. Nfl coaches and scouts see guys like him all the time.
    You simply underestimate what it takes to make it into the nfl, those guys get paid tons money as do coaches, etc and they simply cant screw up by bringing in guys because they are just big and strong, fast but from another country and has never played the sport no less. Using jimmy graham an american born player and who atteneded a football obsessed school as an example just comes from ignorance plain and simple.’

    I am not ‘ignorant’, I have been an NFL fan for over 30 years and have played the sport. So I know the sport as well as any American.

    I have actually been criticising the fans, not the sport. I have never said the sport is easy, easy to succeed or anything of the sort.

  58. ayrshireman says: Apr 12, 2013 4:54 PM

    ‘And knowledge of am.football or what it takes to break into the league from brits tends to be pitful aswell. Despite what you may believe rugby player =/= equal nfl superstar.’

    Not from me, despite what you may think. And yes, rugby star dosent equal NFL star (or vice versa). All it gives the top rugby star at best is a good help in terms of physical ability and experience of playing sports at a top global level. In Okoye’s case, he was a minor rugby player anyway, his rugby background will give him some small help in terms of tackling, movement, ball handling.

    But none in the other skills needed: learning plays, the nuances of the game etc.

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