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Kristjan Sokoli

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No. 67 Seattle Seahawks
Position: Offensive guard
Personal information
Date of birth: (1991-09-24) September 24, 1991 (age 24)
Place of birth: Tirana, Albania
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Career information
High school: Bloomfield (NJ)
College: Buffalo
NFL draft: 2015 / Round: 6 / Pick: 214
Career history
Roster status: Active
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Stats at NFL.com

Kristjan Sokoli (born September 24, 1991) is an American football offensive guard for the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League. He was drafted by the Seahawks in the sixth round of the 2015 NFL Draft.[1][2][3] He played college football at Buffalo.

High school

Sokoli's father, Gjon, fled from Shkodër, Albania[4] to the United States seeking political asylum around the time of the Albanian Rebellion of 1997 when Kristjan was five years old. During the period of economic instability in Albania, Gjon worked in the monetary exchange and usually carried tens of thousands of dollars on his person. Sokoli remembers his father leaving large bags of money with friends for safekeeping and helping his father count as much as $20,000 at one time.[5] When Gjon first arrived in the United States, he made $45 per day as a janitor in an apartment complex, and lived in the complex's basement with other workers.[4] Kristan's mother, Gjyste, fled to America two years after Gjon and Kristjan and his younger brother, Mark, were not able to join their parents until another two years had passed. None of the family could speak English upon arriving and Gjon struggled to support the family as a janitor. Although the Sokolis are now American citizens,[4] Kristjan still listens to Albanian music, displays an Albanian flag and speaks Albanian with his family. Edmir Sokoli, Kristjan's cousin who had come to the United States five years before Kristjan, introduced Sokoli to football when the latter was thirteen years old. Kristjan saw Edmir as a role model and was devastated when Edmir was arrested for attempted armed robbery during Kristjan's senior season.[5]

Sokoli, known as "Moose" by his high school coach,[5] was a three-year letterwinner in football at Bloomfield High School in Bloomfield, New Jersey where he played defensive end, running back, tight end, offensive tackle, punter and placekicker. He broke his leg while playing running back and was then moved to nose tackle.[5] He led Bloomfield to consecutive playoff berths and was named an All-Conference player. He also started for Bloomfield's basketball team and finished eighth in the state in his junior year as a discus thrower.[6] He signed a National Letter of Intent to play at the University at Buffalo in early February of his senior year.[7]

College

At Buffalo, Sokoli moved to the defensive line full-time. When he committed to Buffalo, he stood at 6'5" and weighed 220 pounds. By his junior year, he weighed 300 pounds. He credits this to a diet of 7,000 calories per day.[8] He redshirted during his freshman year. By his junior year, he had become a starter on the line and was an integral part of a Buffalo pass rush which was led by future first-round draft pick linebacker Khalil Mack. Sokoli would help Buffalo to the 2013 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl that season, its second bowl appearance ever and first since the 2008 season.[6] During his senior year, he played in the 2015 Medal of Honor Bowl. He majored in Business Administration and said that he would like to work on the New York Stock Exchange if he could not make a living playing football.[5]

Professional career

Sokoli was selected in the sixth round of the 2015 NFL Draft with the 214th overall pick by the Seattle Seahawks.[1][2] Despite taking two other collegiate offensive lineman in the draft, the Seahawks and offensive line coach Tom Cable discussed moving Sokoli from the defensive line to center, a position which Sokoli has never played before. He would become the first Albanian-born player to play in a National Football League game.[9]

References

  1. ^ a b Seattle Seahawks select Albania native Kristjan Sokoli in sixth round of NFL draft
  2. ^ a b UB defensive lineman Kristjan Sokoli drafted by Seahawks in sixth round
  3. ^ Seahawks’ 6th round: high-jumping, triple-jumping WR-turned-DE Obum Gwacham + a 3rd OL pick, Albania native Kristjan Sokoli
  4. ^ a b c Blount, Terry. "Seahawks rookie Kristjan Sokoli used to making transition". ESPN. Retrieved 11 May 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Dinki, Tom (February 1, 2015). "UB's Kristjan Sokoli is relentless on and off the field". UB Spectrum. Retrieved 6 May 2015. 
  6. ^ a b "Kristjan Sokoli - Buffalo". UBBulls.com. University at Buffalo Athletics. Retrieved 6 May 2015. 
  7. ^ Choquette, Matt (February 11, 2010). "Two Bengals ink Letters of Intent". NorthJersey.com. North Jersey Media Group. Retrieved 6 May 2015. 
  8. ^ DiCesare, Bob (October 25, 2013). "Packing on pounds is Sokoli’s secret sauce at UB". Buffalo News. Retrieved 6 May 2015. 
  9. ^ Knox, Kristopher (May 5, 2015). "An In-Depth Look at Seahawks' Most Intriguing Selection, Kristjan Sokoli". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 6 May 2015.