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CORRECTED: NFL: Olympian Okoye says he'll sign with 49ers

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

British discus thrower Lawrence Okoye wasn't taken in the NFL draft, but says he'll pursue his American football dream by signing as an undrafted free agent with the San Francisco 49ers.

"Proud to announce that I will be signing with the San Francisco @49ers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Okoye said Saturday on the social networking site Twitter as the 2013 draft of new players -- virtually all of them out of US university football programs, wrapped up.

Okoye, a 21-year-old from Croydon, south London, finished 12th in the Olympic Games' discus final last August.

But while on a discus training camp in the United States in early April he decided to try out for the NFL, attending a regional scouting combine in Atlanta.

He was impressive enough to be chosen for the super regional combine in Dallas, where scouts from all 32 teams could see him work out.

Okoye is hoping to emulate the career of Michael Carter, who won a silver medal in shot put at the 1984 Olympics and went onto have a dominant NFL career with the 49ers, who were beaten by the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl in February.

He's not the only British player who will be heading to the San Francisco Bay area to pursue an NFL dream.

Menelik Watson, a 24-year-old offensive tackle from Manchester, was taken in the second round of the draft on Friday -- with the 42nd overall selection -- by the Oakland raiders.

That's by far the highest draft pick ever used on a player born and brought up in Britain.

Watson is also a relative newcomer to the hugely popular US game -- but he's more experienced than Okoye.

Watson launched his American sports career playing basketball at Marist College.

After transferring to Saddleback Community College in California he began playing football for the first time in 2011. A move to Florida State University followed. Although he entered the draft having started just 20 games in his life, his size and speed have impressed NFL talent-spotters.

"We like his athleticism," Raiders' head coach Dennis Allen said. "He's got excellent feet, and he's got a great punch."

bb/mtp

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130428/corrected-nfl-olympian-okoye-says-hell-sign-49ers