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'[If] we needed a big play, his eyes are coming to me': College teammates Drew Lock, Albert Okwuegbunam set to reunite

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Drew Lock didn't waste any time.

Just moments after former Missouri tight end Albert Okwuegbunam got the call from John Elway to let him know that he was the Broncos' fourth-round pick, Lock was firing off messages to his former college teammate.

"Right after I got the call, he was actually just blowing up my phone, super fired up," Okwuegbunam said Saturday. "I can't wait to talk to him and be reunited."

Okwuegbunam said he and Lock spoke before the draft about the possibility that he would join the Broncos, but they didn't have any indication it could actually happen.

That is, until Elway spoke with Lock on Saturday morning.

"We talked to Drew this morning and he loves you to death, so we're thrilled that you [were] there," Elway told Okwuegbunam on the call.

If their college success was any indication, Broncos fans should be thrilled, as well. In Okwuegbunam's first season with Lock, he was a second-team All-SEC player, earned Freshman All-SEC honors and led the Tigers in receiving touchdowns with 11 scores. A year later, Okwuegbunam caught six more touchdown passes from Lock.

In all, Okwuegbunam tallied 72 catches for 881 yards and 17 touchdowns during two seasons with Lock. Once Lock left for Denver, Okwuegbunam caught 26 passes for 306 yards and six touchdowns in his final season in Columbia.

"It's awesome," said Okwuegbunam of being reunited with Lock. "I can't even explain how fired up I am to get in this new offense, just to have that kind of chemistry and trust and confidence kind of already established there. Obviously [I'm] going to have to learn a new offense and get comfortable in that, but as far as that connection already being there, that's awesome."

At Missouri, that chemistry showed as Okwuegbunam served as one of Lock's favorite targets.

"Off the field, we're brothers," Okwuegbunam said. "We get along great, and I think that really just translated onto the field. Being with him at Missouri, I just felt like a lot of the times in tough situations, I was the guy that he felt comfortable just knowing that he always had an open throw in me regardless of the situation. [If] we needed a big play, his eyes are coming to me. … Coming out of routes, I felt like we were always on the same page. I felt like all across the board just that chemistry's there."

In Denver, Okwuegbunam will be the latest addition to Denver's offense with impressive speed. At the 2020 NFL Combine, Okwuegbunam ran a 4.49-second 40-yard dash, which was the fastest time by a tight end by a wide margin. The second-fastest tight end posted a 4.66.

A year earlier, Noah Fant posted a 4.50-second 40.

"Fant is a good player," Okwuegbunam said. "A really good tight end. He came out last year, and I thought about coming out last year. Ultimately, I had a shoulder injury and decided to come back. I'm excited. Iron sharpens iron and I've heard a lot of great things from Drew about him.

And with Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler also on the roster, Okwuegbunam thinks defenses will face a tough task.

"It's going to put a lot of strain on the corners and safeties," Okwuegbunam said. "They can't favor one side of the field. We can hit them everywhere. … I think it's just going to be a great thing that's going to be happening on offense and I can't wait to be a part of it."

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