After deciding to return for his fourth season at Penn State as a redshirt junior, Olumuyiwa “Olu” Fashanu anchored the Nittany Lions’ offensive line. Hailing from Gonzaga College High School, Fashanu shared the field with fellow future top 10 pick, USC quarterback Caleb Williams. After transitioning his focus from basketball to the gridiron during his high school career, he continued to improve as an offensive lineman. ESPN and 247 Sports each graded him as a 3-star recruit, and he was also the 45th-rated offensive tackle in the 2020 recruiting class.
Fashanu redshirted his 2020 freshman campaign and made his first start in Penn State’s 2021 season bowl game, the Outback Bowl against Arkansas. He thus secured his starting role as the left tackle to begin his redshirt sophomore season. During his redshirt freshman season, Fashanu played in four games while not allowing any QB pressures, hits, or sacks through 85 snaps. He again allowed no sacks in his first year as a starter in 2022, starting eight games while allowing just six QB hurries and one QB hit through 542 snaps.
Fashanu suffered a setback, as he missed the last five games of that season due to injury, but showed enough to be seen as a projected top-10 pick for the 2023 NFL Draft. He was named a Walter Camp second-team All-American, earned second-team All-Big Ten honors and Associated Press All-Big Ten second-team honors, was named to Pro Football Focus All-Big Ten second team, earning the team's Dick Maginnis Memorial Award for most outstanding offensive lineman last season.
Despite that, he returned for his redshirt junior season, further solidifying that draft projection and even building upon it. This season, he was named a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, which “recognizes an individual as the absolute best in the country for his academic success, football performance, and exemplary leadership” according to the description of the award. Fashanu will also likely be on several All-American lists and is a finalist for the Lombardi Award, which recognizes the top offensive lineman in the country. Let’s get into the tape, and whether or not he built upon that highly touted body of work.
Name: Olumuyiwa (Olu) Fashanu
Jersey: No. 74
Position: Offensive Tackle
School: Penn State
Class: Redshirt Junior
Weight: 317 lbs Games Watched: Michigan (2023), Ohio State (2023), Illinois (2023), Iowa (2023)
Major Injury History: Missed final five games of 2022 season, including Rose Bowl, due to undisclosed injury
Pass Blocking (14.75/15)
Fashanu is truly an elite pass blocker who rarely allows many QB hurries, hits, or sacks throughout a game. Outside of this year’s game against Ohio State, where he certainly wasn’t at his best, which he admitted to, he has never allowed a single sack or more than a hurry in a game. Against the Buckeyes, Fashanu allowed his first career sack and five hurries.
Outside of that, the soon-to-be 21-year-old (December 9) has been consistently dominant in pass protection. He is very fluid in pass sets while quickly and effectively countering defenders with hand punches and other counter moves. Fashanu also has effective hand placement and strength to stand up against any defensive lineman.
In the clip below, Fashanu does a great job of stifling a try at a spin move and doesn't allow the defender to get free.
Run Blocking (12/15)
To solidify himself as a top-10 pick this year, Fashanu had to improve upon his run blocking. While it is still a work in progress, he is adept at getting the drive necessary to push up the field and find work at the second level. Since being graded out as an average run blocker last year, Fashanu has improved in all areas of his game. Sometimes, he doesn’t show enough tenacity as a run blocker, but he shows constant movement and always looks to finish his blocks. He has excellent get-off at the line of scrimmage to get leverage on the hopeful tackler.
At six-foot-six, Fashanu has an above-average wingspan of 82 7/8 inches, which, with his 34 3/8 inch arms, allows him to have adequate length. He can naturally maintain a constant distance between rushing defenders. This makes it extremely difficult for even the most bendable defensive ends to get around the massive reach of Fashanu.
Fashanu possesses great balance with his footwork and has excellent foot speed to help him quickly adjust his blocking angles. He has great speed for his size to keep up with blocks in the open field and square up defenders.
Fashanu exhibits near-perfect mechanics as he does a solid job of keeping his hands inside. His pad level can be high at times, which will compromise his leverage, but for the most part, he has an incredible natural bend at an almost rare level. He moves with ease and executes all levels of his game to a tee. It’s tough to find any downsides or glaring issues with his mechanics.
Combined with his power, Fashanu is very athletic, especially in the short area. He is a rare breed of offensive lineman who is a monster of a man while being agile and sports elite athleticism. He never gives up on a play, no matter how dire it looks for his quarterback or ball carrier. Fashanu will continue moving his legs and arms throughout any given play.
Fashanu can be a scheme-versatile starter in the NFL at left tackle, though is likely not going to have the ability to move along the line. His future is at left tackle, but it is a very bright one.
There are instances where Fashanu can be caught off-balance and pushed back. That was the case against Ohio State, especially in the play where he gave up his lone sack. On that play, edge rusher JT Tuimoloau pushed him back right into Drew Allar. That left Allar nowhere to go, with the other Buckeye defenders crashing in.
But outside of those struggles against Ohio State, Fashanu holds a pretty firm anchor. One such example of an excellent anchor was against Iowa when he got his hands right into the defender attempting a bull rush and holding his ground.
Fashanu has tremendous control, as evidenced by his natural bend, and can frequently stay in control of his blocks. He can easily redirect power-based defenders and maintain fluidity through change of direction.
Just when you thought he couldn't elevate his stock anymore, Fashanu did just that this season. He solidified himself as a surefire top-10 pick and potentially a top-five pick. No tackle has stood out on tape as much as Fashanu has over the last several years. He is a perfect fit for the passing league that the NFL is. Whoever drafts him is getting themselves a stud potential franchise left tackle.
Rookie Projections: Starting Offensive Tackle
Third-Year Projections: Potential All-Pro Tackle
Final Grade (89.75/100): Top 5-10 Pick
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