Jets sign former British Olympic discus thrower Okoye
NEW YORK: From tossing the discus to throwing blocks.
The New York Jets signed former British record-holding discus thrower Lawrence Okoye, who competed in the 2012 London Olympics, to the practice squad Friday as an offensive lineman.
The 6-foot-6, 304-pound Okoye put his discus career on hold in 2013 to pursue an NFL career despite never having played football in high school or college. He was signed as undrafted defensive lineman by San Francisco that same year.
Okoye spent his rookie season on injured reserve with a knee injury and was on the 49ers' practice squad last year. He was cut after training camp this summer and signed to Arizona's practice squad in September — also as a defensive lineman. He was cut October 21.
The Jets also re-signed defensive tackle T.J. Barnes to the practice squad, and released cornerback Jeremy Harris.
The 24-year-old Okoye is clearly a project as he'll be transitioning to a new position with New York. But his size and power are clearly intriguing to NFL teams. He was a winger in junior rugby union as a teenager before focusing on discus.
Okoye, who set the British record in the discus at 223 feet, 10 inches (68.24 meters), won a gold medal at the 2011 European Championships at age 19. He qualified for the finals in the event in 2012 in London, where he finished 12th.
In 2013, Okoye participated in the NFL's super regional combine and impressed teams with his 40-yard dash time of 4.78 seconds, as well as his 35-inch vertical leap and a 10-foot-5 broad jump. He was signed by the 49ers a few weeks later.