Kristjan Sokoli

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Kristjan Sokoli
refer to caption
Sokoli with the New York Giants in 2019
Free agent
Position:Defensive end
Personal information
Born: (1991-09-24) September 24, 1991 (age 27)
Pukë, Albania
Height:6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Weight:305 lb (138 kg)
Career information
High school:Bloomfield
(Bloomfield, New Jersey)
College:Buffalo
NFL Draft:2015 / Round: 6 / Pick: 214
Career history
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
Roster status:Active
Career NFL statistics as of 2018
Player stats at NFL.com

Kristjan Sokoli (born September 24, 1991) is an Albanian American football defensive end who is currently a free agent. He was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the sixth round of the 2015 NFL Draft.[1][2][3] He played college football at Buffalo.

High school career[edit]

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 $10,000 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 maintenance worker. 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, left tackle, tight end, punter and placekicker. He suffered fractures on his wrist before junior and senior year of high school, which set him back a bit. [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 and 6th in the state his senior year.[6] He signed a National Letter of Intent to play at the University at Buffalo in early February of his senior year.[7]

College career[edit]

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 credited 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[edit]

Pre-draft measurables
Ht Wt Arm length Hand size 40-yard dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert jump Broad BP
6 ft 4 12 in
(1.94 m)
290 lb
(132 kg)
34 in
(0.86 m)
10 38 in
(0.26 m)
4.84 s 4.36 s 7.19 s 38 in
(0.97 m)
9 ft 11 in
(3.02 m)
31 reps
All values from Buffalo pro day[9][10]

Seattle Seahawks[edit]

Sokoli was not invited to the NFL's pre-draft scouting combine.[9] The Seattle Seahawks selected Sokoli in the sixth round of the 2015 NFL Draft with the 214th overall pick.[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 had never played before. He would become the first Albanian-born player to play in a National Football League game.[11] He appeared in eight plays in the 2015 season, all on special teams in Week 16.[12]

On August 30, 2016, Sokoli was waived by the Seahawks.[13]

Indianapolis Colts[edit]

On September 26, 2016, Sokoli was signed to the Colts' practice squad as a defensive end.[14] He was promoted to the active roster on December 19, 2016.[15]

On June 15, 2017, Sokoli was waived by the Colts.[16]

New Orleans Saints[edit]

On July 25, 2017, Sokoli signed with the New Orleans Saints as an offensive lineman.[17] He was waived on September 2, 2017, and was signed to the practice squad the next day.[18][19] He was released on September 6, 2017.

New York Giants[edit]

On December 27, 2017, Sokoli was signed to the New York Giants' practice squad.[20] He signed a reserve/future contract with the Giants on January 1, 2018.[21]

On August 11, 2018, Sokoli was placed on injured reserve after suffering a torn ACL.[22]

References[edit]

  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 May 11, 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 May 6, 2015.
  6. ^ a b "Kristjan Sokoli - Buffalo". UBBulls.com. University at Buffalo Athletics. Retrieved May 6, 2015.
  7. ^ Choquette, Matt (February 11, 2010). "Two Bengals ink Letters of Intent". NorthJersey.com. North Jersey Media Group. Retrieved May 6, 2015.
  8. ^ DiCesare, Bob (October 25, 2013). "Packing on pounds is Sokoli's secret sauce at UB". Buffalo News. Retrieved May 6, 2015.
  9. ^ a b Hsu, Davis (March 30, 2015). "VMAC Pre-Draft Visitor Profile: DT Kristjan Sokoli, Buffalo". Field Gulls. SB Nation. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  10. ^ Brandt, Gil (April 23, 2015). "New England Patriots work out DL prospect at Buffalo pro day". NFL.com. NFL. Retrieved December 14, 2015.
  11. ^ Knox, Kristopher (May 5, 2015). "An In-Depth Look at Seahawks' Most Intriguing Selection, Kristjan Sokoli". Bleacher Report. Retrieved May 6, 2015.
  12. ^ "Kristjan Sokoli 2015 Fantasy Stats". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
  13. ^ Boyle, John. "Seahawks Make Roster Moves To Reach 75-Player Limit". Seahawks.com.
  14. ^ "Indianapolis Colts Make Practice Squad Move". Blogs.Colts.com. September 26, 2016.
  15. ^ "Indianapolis Colts Make Roster Moves". Blogs.Colts.com. December 19, 2016.
  16. ^ "Indianapolis Colts Make Roster Moves". Blogs.Colts.com. June 15, 2017.
  17. ^ Williams, Charean (July 25, 2017). "Saints signing Kristjan Sokoli, who will play OL". ProFootballTalk.NBCSports.com.
  18. ^ "New Orleans Saints make 37 roster moves". NewOrleansSaints.com. September 2, 2017.
  19. ^ "New Orleans Saints announce roster moves". NewOrleansSaints.com. September 5, 2017.
  20. ^ Eisen, Michael (December 27, 2017). "LB B.J. Goodson placed on IR, Giants promote WR Marquis Bundy". Giants.com.
  21. ^ "Giants sign nine players to futures contracts". BigBlueView.com. January 1, 2018.
  22. ^ Eisen, Michael (August 11, 2018). "Giants sign DB Mike Jones, DT Kristjan Sokoli to IR". Giants.com.