In the last four years, defensive tackle Lawrence Okoye has been on six different NFL rosters, but hasn’t yet made an appearance in a game. He’s not giving up on his dream of playing though, and is making a huge sacrifice to attend training camp with the Miami Dolphins.
According to ESPN’s James Walker, Okoye is turning down an invitation to study at Oxford Law School to go after his opportunity with the Dolphins.
Okoye, 25, was able to defer his acceptance into Oxford until the summer, but told Walker that he will let that deadline pass so he can participate in training camp. What makes the decision even riskier is that he’s far from assured a roster spot in Miami.
The England native went to the 2012 Summer Olympics as a discus thrower and kicked off his NFL career a year later by signing a contract with the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted free agent. He has since spent time with the Arizona Cardinals, New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears before joining the Dolphins in January.
Okoye’s time with the Cardinals lasted a little over a month before he was released for parking in the wrong spot.
Miami didn’t have much depth at defensive tackle behind Ndamukong Suh and Jordan Phillips at the time the team signed Okoye, but added Davon Godchaux and Vincent Taylor a couple months ago in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Dolphins coach Adam Gase has seemed impressed with Okoye though, and the defensive tackle’s sacrifice to stay with the team probably helps even more.
“You got a big, athletic guy that has been in high-performance sports,” Gase told Walker. “Even though it’s not this, it’s still an elite level. I think any time you get a chance to bring a guy in your program that works hard and tries to do everything you ask him to do, give him a chance to compete, and I think he’s trying to make the most of it.”
Okoye’s size and athleticism have afforded him many chances in the NFL, but he’s taking a risk by passing on a prestigious education to continue chasing his dream.
“At this point in my life, you kind of discover yourself -- kind of discover who you are as a person -- in your 20s,” Okoye said. “I’m still in that discovery process, still learning what I’m about as a person. I can’t give a definitive answer (about) what I’d like to do at some point in the future, because it’s so day-to-day right now.”
Right now, Okoye is solely focused on making the Dolphins roster no matter what other opportunities that costs him.