Alex Okafor was a defensive end on a mission in Texas’ Alamo Bowl victory over Oregon State on December 29.
The mission: lead the Longhorns to victory while assuring NFL franchises he was healthy and ready for the next elevation of football.
Okafor completed both missions in resounding fashion by setting an Alamo Bowl record with 4.5 sacks in a 31-27 victory.
“I had a great defensive scheme and my team played hard for me,” Okafor said on Tuesday. “All the dominoes and chips fell into place.”
He’s hoping his place in the NFL Draft fell into place too -- a few selections higher -- after his performance at Texas’ pro day.
“For the most part I am happy,” Okafor said. “I am still getting some of the rust off and getting to 100 percent. Running, I could have done a little better. But I’m not too disappointed. Out here on the field where it counts I thought I did really well.”
Okafor, who checked in at 6-foot-2 and 262 pounds, decided to keep his combine numbers on bench press of 21 times at 225 pounds. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.88 and 4.96 seconds according to Calvin Watkins.
Okafor showed plenty of versatility in his four-year career at Texas. He spent his sophomore season at defensive tackle, earning eight starts and 3.5 sacks among his 28 total stops.
As a senior, Okafor finished the season with 68 tackles, 18 tackles-for-loss, 12.5 sacks, 20 quarterback hurries and four forced-fumbles despite a nagging ankle injury that limited his production late in the season.
He’s hoping that versatility will help him garner more attention with more teams.
“A lot of teams want to see if I can switch to 3-4 backer,” he said. “That’s what a lot of these drills were for out there. I am confident in my athletic ability and I think I could make that switch if I had to.
“Teams are looking at me all across the line of scrimmage. I put a lot of things on tape that I am proud of, and it shows my versatility. I am going to do what they ask me to.”
Okafor declined to discuss what teams he’s met with already or will meet with in the future. But he did say that “some good things [were] on the way.”
This was the first opportunity for NFL teams to get a glimpse of him in their setting. He didn’t participate in the NFL combine.
“I missed the combine so people want to see if I am healthy again,” he said. “I showed that I am healthy.”