• NFL

Okoye to sign with San Francisco 49ers

ESPN staff
April 28, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Lawrence Okoye has swapped discus for American football © AP
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British Olympic discuss thrower Lawrence Okoye has announced he is to sign with the Super Bowl runners-up the San Francisco 49ers, after going unselected in the NFL draft on Saturday.

Okoye, 21, was not picked by any team as the seven-round draft came to a close but took to Twitter to reveal that he had agreed a free agent contract with the 49ers, who lost to the Baltimore Ravens in this year's Super Bowl.

"Proud to announce that I will be signing with the San Francisco 49ers!" Okoye tweeted.

The defensive end will now have to impress 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh - widely considered one of the most inventive thinkers in the game - in preseason, in the hopes of making the final 53-man squad for the 2013 season.

Okoye turned down offers from rugby union to pursue his NFL dream, showing some promise at a recent Super Regional Combine to attract NFL interest. Having never played a competitive game before, the 49ers will be hoping Okoye proves a quick learner to go with his undoubted physical gifts.

"He's just an Adonis," Harbaugh reportedly said of Okoye. "Just a great physical specimen of a man. Our Creator created a beautiful man."

Okoye's move has not been without controversy - while his NFL career still remains far from assured, his discus coach believes he was on the verge of "breaking through" as an elite thrower, after finishing a disappointing 12th in the final at London 2012.

"He was on the verge of breaking through, in my opinion, to being the best in the world," John Hillier told Athletics Weekly earlier this month. "I would like what's in his best interests and I honestly believe it would be in his best interests to stay in the sport."

On Friday, Manchester's Menelik Watson was selected by the Oakland Raiders in the second round - the 42nd overall pick of the 2013 draft.

Crawley's Tom Wort, another British prospect hoping to be drafted, was not selected - but subsequently agreed a deal with the Tennessee Titans' similar to Okoye's.

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