Lawrence Okoye has his sights on an NFL career despite having never played football in high school or college. The 21-year-old British discus record-holder is putting his career on hold to make the switch to the NFL. If he makes it, Okoye would be part of a small number of British-born players who have competed in the NFL.
Okoye attended the regional combine in Atlanta last week and plans to work out at the Dallas super regional on April 7. He said five NFL teams have shown interest in him.
"At the combine, I really stood out because of my size, strength and speed," Okoye told The Daily Mail's Ian Stafford. "I don't want to sound arrogant, but I was good on (that) 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."
Okoye said he won't sign with a team until after the 2013 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-6, 284-pounder is an accomplished rugby player and looks the part, but we know the NFL is a different animal. Okoye finished 12th in the discus at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
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"From my mid-teenage years, everyone kept telling me to give American football a go," Okoye said, "and I thought about applying for an American college scholarship when I was 16.
"I've always been a huge NFL fan for as long as I can remember. ... I want to give this my best shot. It's a rare life opportunity."
Good luck to Okoye, but it's going to be extremely hard to find a roster spot among men who have been playing the game their entire lives. He might be a superb athlete, but the technique, footwork and instincts he needs in order to succeed in the NFL might create a mountainous obstacle.