49ers guarantee British Olympian $3K and an opportunity

49ers guarantee British Olympian $3K and an opportunity
May 6, 2013, 1:30 pm
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Lawrence Okoye, 21, was a rugby player who began throwing the discus at 18 years old. (AP)

British Olympian Lawrence Okoye, who has never played football, is placing his discus career and acceptance into law school on hold for a $3,000 commitment from the 49ers.

Okoye, who is hoping to make the transition to NFL defensive lineman, signed a standard three-year contract as an undrafted free agent with the 49ers last week. The only guaranteed money is a $3,000 signing bonus, a source told CSNBayArea.com.

Like most NFL contracts, the yearly base salaries of $405,000 in 2013, $495,000 in 2014 and $585,000 in 2015 will be paid to Okoye only if he makes the 53-man rosters in those seasons.

Okoye was one of 11 players the 49ers signed last week to their 90-man offseason roster. The paperwork for Okoye, linebacker-turned-fullback Alex Debniak (Stanford) and tackle Luke Marquardt (Azusa Pacific) was approved on Friday.

According to a source, the 49ers' top-paid undrafted free agents are defensive backs Darryl Morris (Texas State) and Lowell Rose (Tulsa). Both players received $8,000 signing bonuses.

Okoye is the most intriguing of the new players. He attended two NFL regional combines while stationed in Atlanta to train. He measured 6 foot 6, 305 pounds, and reportedly ran the 40-yard dash in 4.88 and 4.78 seconds.

Okoye, 21, was a rugby player who began throwing the discus at 18 years old. Two years later, he set the British record and was a finalist in the Olympics. He has deferred his acceptance to the Oxford School of Law until 2017 to pursue a career in the NFL.