From defensive end to defensive linebacker back to defensive end and now likely to outside linebacker — Alex Okafor's versatility might have been the factor that swung the Arizona Cardinals to select him with their fourth-round pick, the 103rd overall selection.
"Alex was so unselfish. He played anywhere we asked him to," said Texas coach Mack Brown. "When we were short on the defensive line two years ago, at 260 pounds, he played all year and never griped one bit. He became a great team leader."
Now, he'll be reunited with another great Texas leader who plays the same position. Sam Acho was actually selected by Arizona with the exact same pick by the Cardinals in 2011. Okafor makes eight consecutive years that the Longhorns have had a defensive lineman selected in the NFL Draft.
Okafor was the 2012 College Football Performance Elite Defensive Lineman Trophy winner after a season that saw him lead the Longhorns in tackles for loss (18), sacks (12.5) and forced fumbles (4). He closed the season with a monster performance against Oregon State in the Alamo Bowl, making eight stops, including six in the backfield and 4.5 sacks. He also forced a fumble in the game.
"We think he can play end and he can play outside backer," Brown said. "The performance that he had against Oregon State was unbelievable with four-and-a-half sacks- it broke a record. Again, I think his [best football] is ahead of him because he is going to get bigger and stronger. He is a four-year guy, just like Marquise [Goodwin], neither one red-shirted. He has a lot of upside."
Okafor was twice selected as a first-team All-Big 12 player, and CBSSports.com named him the 2012 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. In 2011, the AFCA FBS coaches named him as an All-American.