Olu Fashanu Earning National Recognition With ‘Consistent’ Dominance At Left Tackle

For years, Penn State football fans have been calling for James Franklin to build a better offensive line. Dating back to the dark days of watching Christian Hackenberg get sacked 10 times by Temple in 2015, it hasn’t been pretty. But now, the Nittany Lions have a rising start at left tackle in Olu Fashanu.

Fashanu came into the program in 2020 as a true freshman and didn’t see any action before making one start in 2021 and earning Academic All-Big Ten honors. Now at 19 years old, he has started all eight games at left tackle for the Nittany Lions and is even projected to become a 2023 NFL Draft first-round pick.

That doesn’t come as a surprise, considering he hasn’t allowed a sack this season, according to Pro Football Focus. Head coach James Franklin raved about Fashanu in his weekly press conference on Tuesday. It was arguably the highest he has ever spoken of one of his players, at least in recent memory.

“Almost all the guys in that locker room have shown the ability to flash from time to time and do some
really special things. I think that’s what separates Olu,” Franklin said. “He’s just so consistent with his approach, with his habits, with his maturity, with his drive towards being elite really in everything that he does.”

“I think the biggest thing is he has unbelievable play strength,” Franklin continued. “He’s strong in the weight room but has got unbelievable play strength. He’s usually in great position. If he is out of position, he has the ability to get himself back into a winning position against a defensive end.”

Most fans probably realized Fashanu’s dominant play after this past Saturday’s game against Ohio State. Look at him dominate Ohio State defensive end Zach Harrison on the line. He never even had a chance to get past the 19-year-old.

Fashanu was also matched up against J.T. Tuimoloau, who was involved in three of Penn State’s four turnovers, for some of the game. Fashanu dominated in that matchup, too.

Now, the 6’6″, 308-pound lineman is starting to get some serious NFL Draft hype and recognition. His teammates are not surprised, though.

“This is coming as no surprise to anybody on the team,” fellow offensive lineman Sal Wormley said on Tuesday. “We all knew who Olu was before his name got out there. We all knew what he was capable of, and how he practices, and how he plays… Of course, it makes us happy that he [is getting] the recognition he deserves.”

It’s easy for a player to become rattled or distracted by all the draft buzz and outside chatter, but Franklin said that Fashanu has handled the situation extremely well thus far. He also mentioned that he met with the Waldorf, Maryland, native’s parents on Sunday.

“[We’re] just being as supportive as we possibly can be, and they’re awesome people,” Franklin said. “They seem to be handling it well, but it’s a lot.”

Wormley and the rest of his teammates have also seen that Fashanu is not phased by any of the outside distractions and is just focused on Penn State football.

“He’s handling it extremely well,” Wormley said. “He’s a humble guy. He’s never been a rowdy or arrogant person. He doesn’t even focus or talk about what other people are saying about him. Every day he’s just about the team, him getting better, and improving with the o-line.”

It’s probably safe to say that Fashanu is one of Penn State’s best players at the moment and one of the most-liked, too. Players and coaches rave about not only his play on the field but his character. Franklin went as far as saying his a great role model for other players to learn from.

“He’s an awesome kid,” Franklin said. “[Gonzaga High School] did a phenomenal job with him, the parents did a phenomenal job raising him. Just a really good example — model of doing your job at a high level consistently. People notice that. I don’t care what industry you’re in.”

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About the Author

Frankie Marzano

Frankie is a senior accounting and economics major from Long Island, NY. You can probably recognize him as the typical Italian-American with slicked back black hair. He is an avid fan of the New York Rangers and Mets, along with every Penn State Athletics team. Follow him on Twitter @frankiemarzano for obnoxious amounts of Rangers and Penn State content or email him at [email protected].

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