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Why DL Jonah Laulu Believes he 'Proved' Himself With Impressive Showing at Oklahoma's Pro Day

The former Oklahoma defensive lineman posted numbers that would have charted amongst the best for all defensive tackles at the NFL Scouting Combine.

NORMAN — Perhaps no Oklahoma Sooner impressed NFL scouts more than defensive lineman Jonah Laulu on Tuesday.

The eyes of the NFL world descended upon OU’s Everest Training Center in Norman for the Sooners’ yearly Pro Day, one of the last chances for former Oklahoma players to impress scouts before the upcoming NFL Draft.

Though he didn’t get an invite to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Laulu showed he’s one of the most athletic defensive line prospects in this year’s draft pool.

Laulu ran the 40-yard dash in 4.96 seconds, which would have ranked sixth among defensive tackles that participated in the combine. His vertical jump was 36 inches, which would have been the best mark amongst defensive tackles at the combine by over two inches.

Laulu’s 9-foot-10-inch broad jump would have also lead all defensive tackles at the combine. His 7.57-second mark in the 3-cone drill would have ranked second, and Laulu’s 4.59-second 20-yard shuttle would have finished third. He also completed 24 repetitions on the bench press, which would have been 10th amongst defensive tackles.

“I'm happy,” Laulu said after completing his work at Pro Day. “I’m content with my numbers today. It's just a blessing to be able to do this in front of all these people.”

Without a combine invite, there was plenty of pressure on Laulu to perform in front of the gathered scouts.

If there were any nerves, Laulu showed no signs, instead putting on a show.

“As we walked in we started walking closer and closer to the indoor (facility),” he said, “I started getting really excited because man, I've been training like the past three months for this. I've just been looking forward to this.”

Laulu, who transferred to OU as a defensive end from Hawaii before shifting over to defensive tackle, said he was pleased to be able to quell any doubts about maintaining his athleticism after putting on more weight to play on the interior of the defensive line.

“I think I proved that I'm an athlete,” he said. “… I think I kind of showcased that a little bit today. I'm not as happy with the 40 time, but it's alright.”

In 2022, Laulu ended the year with 20 total tackles and 1.5 quarterback sacks, as well as one interception.

Last year, Laulu ended with 11 tackles and one sack, also chipping in three tackles for loss as he rotated with Jacob Lacey, Da’Jon Terry, Jordan Kelley and Isaiah Coe at the heart of OU’s defensive line.

“Most teams that I've talked to,” he said, “they've expressed that I'll play interior if they're in a four-down front and if they have a big defensive end position I could play end.

“And just being able to be versatile with my body type at my weight and being able to move the way I can move… I just think that's going to benefit me, my versatility, in making a team for sure.”

The production on the field wasn’t what stood out to Laulu most about his decision to transfer to Norman, however, something he thinks will serve him well as he takes the next step in his football career.

“I think I had a great career here,” Laulu said. “… The reason I came here was to get coached up... That's all I really wanted to do was get coached up because before I came here I was just raw talent. I was a big dude that could move.

“I didn't feel like I was getting the coaching I needed and I didn't feel like I was getting better as a player. So when I came here that's all I really wanted and I think I got all of that.”

There are still workouts and meetings for all of Oklahoma’s Pro Day participants, but for the most part it’s a waiting game until the draft.

Laulu hopes he impressed at least a few scouts as he chases down his NFL dreams.

“I mean I'd hope so,” he said. "Just doing what I did today, showing that I can move. I'm very explosive when I was doing my jumps and everything. Showing how explosive I am coming out.

“I’m just waiting to see who hits my line and see what happens. I'm just excited and curious to see what happens.”