A lot of NFL prospects get the label of "raw" or "developmental." British Olympian Lawrence Okoye, the newest member of the San Francisco 49ers, might be the first one we've heard of who literally didn't know how to put on football pads.
|British Olympian Lawrence Okoye signed a contract with the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted free agent. (Lawrence Okoye/Twitter)|
"It was quite interesting," Okoye told Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle on Tuesday about the experience. "They're not as heavy as I thought."
It's safe to say Okoye has a long way to go. Ideally, he will show enough potential over the summer to earn a spot on the team's practice squad. He has a better chance on the 49ers than elsewhere because of defensive line coach Jim Tomsula.
"His background in NFL Europe was something that really appealed to me," Okoye said of Tomsula. "Obviously, he's worked with guys that have hardly played the game before. ... He sees potential in me and he's made it clear that he wants to take me all the way. That's something I'm really happy about. I can't wait to work with him day in and day out."
Okoye said he knows he won't be kicking Ray McDonald or Justin Smith out of the 49ers' lineup any time soon, but he's serious enough about the career choice to defer his acceptance to the Oxford School of Law until 2017.
"I'm not going to put any limits on myself," Okoye told Branch. "Nobody would have predicted when I was 18 that I would be the British record-holder and an Olympic finalist."Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.