One of the 49ers higher profile rookies this season is Lawrence Okoye. Although he faces a tough uphill climb to earn a roster spot, his unique transition from rugby and discus to the NFL has the media intrigued. He recently conducted an interview with UK magazine ShortList (h/t Matt Barrows), in which he discussed his transition into the NFL.
Okoye described his NFL attempt as the hardest thing he's ever done, but he remains confident in himself. He referenced defensive line coach Jim Tomsula as one of the biggest reasons for joining the 49ers. Tomsula worked in NFL Europe and has extensive experience working with players with limited football experience. NFL Europe featured plenty of former college prospects, but it also included some players with little to no American football experience.
If the 49ers decide to try and sign Okoye to the practice squad (assuming he clears waivers), it seems like they would be in a good position to get him signed. Technically once a player clears waivers, he is a free agent and can sign anywhere. However, given that the 49ers have Coach Tomsula on their side, it would seem to be a pretty simple process.
Okoye discussed a few details about the need for more explosive speed and power. He mentioned how explosive power is key for discus, which means it benefits him as he learns the ropes of playing defensive line. There are certain aspects of the defensive line that are not about just overwhelming, explosive power, but for pass rushing, it can be key. He was asked about his speed over short distances:
I'm not entirely sure. I'm just over 22 stone at the moment, so it would be tough to match my 100m personal best of 10.95 seconds. However, I'm far more explosive now, so I'm covering short distances very quickly. For example, I have run a 1.64-second 10-yard dash, which is much more important both for discus and NFL.
Okoye also briefly got into the music he likes when he's in the gym. Apparently he likes something called south london grime. I did a quick google search as I have never heard of it. We've got a wikipedia page and a YouTube search revealed these videos. Feel free to explore the studio space!