DAVIE—He’s got a long way to go when it comes to securing a spot on the roster, but former discus thrower and rugby player Lawrence Okoye has gotten the Dolphins’ attention during Organized Team Activities.
“I think the first couple of practices, guys didn’t really know what they were going up against and he made quite a few plays,” coach Adam Gase said. “He’s been making plays through the whole OTA session so far.”
Okoye, 25, is one of four defensive tackles vying for a roster spot behind Ndamukong Suh and Jordan Phillips. Two of those players are recent draft picks: Davon Godchaux and Vincent Taylor.
Okoye (6-foot-6, 304 pounds) has been trying to make it in the NFL since 2013, and the Dolphins are the seventh team to sign him. He has yet to appear in a game.
He grew up in the London area and quickly found success in rugby as a winger. He began training full-time for discus at age 19 and earned entry to the 2012 Olympics, where he finished 12th.
The following spring, he declared his intent to go into football and signed with the 49ers. Between injuries and being outplayed as he tried to learn the game, Okoye never made the active roster.
Most recently, the Cowboys cut him on the final day of the preseason last year and the Bears picked him up for their practice squad in November.
“When we bring a guy in and he’s had some experiences with some other teams, we’re trying to give every guy a fair shake,” Gase said. “That’s kind of why we do things the way we do it where when we get a guy and we start the offseason program, we want to try to give them the full allotment to prove whether or not they belong.
“When you get a guy (like Okoye) that’s been involved in high-performance areas not being football, pressure situations aren’t the type of thing that are going to rattle him. He has a great mindset. The work ethic is through the roof… You appreciate a guy that knows what he doesn’t know and he’s trying to figure out every little detail of what his job is.”
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