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Top NFL draft prospect Olu Fashanu will return to Penn State

Published:

4:30 PM ET

  • Pete ThamelESPN

Penn State left tackle Olu Fashanu told ESPN he’s returning to highschool next yr, a surprising move in NFL circles considering he’s projected as the highest offensive line prospect within the 2023 NFL draft.

Fashanu, 19, is a redshirt sophomore who’s in his first full season as a starter at Penn State. Fashanu is 6-foot-6 and 310 kilos and played highschool football at Gonzaga College High in Washington, D.C.

Fashanu established himself as considered one of the highest offensive linemen within the country this season, with some scouts projecting him as likely a top-10 draft pick.

Fashanu said he rarely looks at social media and had no idea about his rising draft stock until teammates showed him a mock draft this season.

Fashanu told ESPN that he felt as if he has “unfinished business” at Penn State and that he’s returning primarily to assist the Nittany Lions accomplish greater goals, specifically naming the Big Ten championship and a national title as two things he’d like to attain in 2023. He stressed that the potential of the core of young talent at Penn State is appealing to him, and he’s appreciative of the chemistry he has built with offensive line coach Phil Trautwein and with coach James Franklin.

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Fashanu also said he’ll get his degree in supply chain management sometime in the following yr and plans to start out his master’s.

“Penn State is an awesome place to go to highschool,” he said. “And I can get my education at no cost.”

Fashanu’s length, athleticism and power are appealing to NFL scouts. After surging to the highest of most NFL teams’ boards for the 2023 draft, he’ll as a substitute likely enter next season within the rare air of top prospects, an early group that’s more likely to include Drake Maye, Marvin Harrison Jr. and Caleb Williams — his highschool teammate from Gonzaga.

“I feel he would have been the highest tackle on this draft and a top-10 pick,” one NFL scout told ESPN. “He’s a check-all-the-boxes guy — high character. He’s a sure-fire high pick. It’s a simple evaluation.”

The pull of his team and his education brought Fashanu back to Penn State. When the young offensive core of freshman quarterback Drew Allar and freshman tailbacks Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen was mentioned to Fashanu, he countered by declaring how good they could be next yr with a full offseason of coaching and development.

“I simply can’t wait to get to work this offseason,” he said.

Fashanu has began just nine games in his profession — eight of them got here this season. He hasn’t played since getting injured against Ohio State in October, missing the past 4 games. The undisclosed injury just isn’t considered serious, and he’s expected to participate fully in spring football.

By way of what Fashanu is looking forward to, apart from his weekly trips to Penn State’s Berkey Creamery for its famed ice cream, he mostly stressed being together with his teammates. After making significant progress from 2021 to 2022, he cannot wait to see what happens next yr after one other offseason of labor.

“I feel like we have come a great distance and there is more we will do,” he said.

The news is a big boon to Penn State, which went 10-2 this season and expects to return a talented young roster.

“We couldn’t be more excited to have Olu return for the 2023 season,” Franklin said. “He’s an individual of high character who exemplifies our core values, leads by example and models what it means to be an entire Penn State student-athlete. We are going to proceed to work extremely hard to assist Olu achieve all of his goals on and off the sector and sit up for one other season with him and his family in Completely happy Valley.”

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