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Former Olympian Lawrence Okoye calls 49ers OTAs “Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done”

  • Tad Johnson

A British olympic discus thrower, Lawrence Okoye, decided that this year he wanted to try his hand at American football. He signed as an undrafted free agent with the 49ers. He now admits that he had no idea what he was getting himself into, and that OTAs are a little bit tougher than he initially expected.

Okoye is a hulking figure. Is he good enough to make an NFL roster? (Photo credit: The Guardian)

Okoye is a hulking figure. Is he good enough to make an NFL roster?
(Photo credit: The Guardian)

“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done”, Okoye told Shortlist Magazine in England. “I’m under no illusions. But other guys have made the transition before. One of my key decisions in joining the 49ers was the chance to work with defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. He has a great history in NFL Europe, where he started in England with the Monarchs. He’s known for developing people without much of a background in the game, and even those who have never played the sport. I fall into that category.

He also said that the training between his Olympic discus days and the NFL are “worlds apart”.

“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, 21, is an absolutely phenomenal athlete with a big list of accomplishments accompanying him to the 49ers.  He reach the Olympic level in the discus just TWO years after picking up the event. There’s one athletic feat that astounds me beyond anything else he’s done.

This is a man that ran a 100 meter dash in less than 11 seconds. At over 300 pounds, that’s absolutely ridiculous.

If making the team was just reliant on natural physical talent, Okoye would make the team in a heartbeat. It’ll be interesting to see if he picks up the sport quickly enough to make the team by the time the season begins.

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Tad Johnson

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