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Olu Fashanu Ready to Return from Late-Season Injury as Penn State Football’s Offensive Line Cornerstone

Olu Fashanu is counting down the days until football returns to Happy Valley for the 2023 season.

The junior is ready to move on from his season-ending injury sustained in Penn State’s matchup against Ohio State last October and march toward the future.

“It’s felt great to be back out here,” Fashanu said Tuesday. “I’ve been waiting for this moment for a while, so just to finally be back out there with all my guys, it’s great.”

Fashanu is emerging as one of the leaders on the 2023 roster despite starting only nine games during his career. His decision to return to Penn State was heavily influenced by the opportunity to be a role model for the younger players on the team.

“A goal of mine, and also a goal of the whole team, is to be more of a vocal leader, and I really feel like I’ve stepped up in that aspect,” Fashanu said. “But I’ve still got a lot more to offer.”

Fashanu intends to mentor Penn State’s incoming offensive line class, one of the most decorated in recent memory. The incoming group boasts names such as five-star recruit J’ven Williams, four-star Alex Birchmeier and three-star Anthony Donkoh.

Fashanu plans to use the 2023 season as a way to increase his draft stock, which may prove to be difficult since he was already a top-10 prospect at his position before his decision to return.

The Waldorf, Maryland native allowed just six quarterback hurries, one quarterback hit and zero sacks while playing at left tackle last season. This year, James Franklin wants Fashanu to prepare to switch to the other side of the line and play right tackle if Penn State ever catches the injury bug.

“I think it’s a bit of a learning curve because he’s not as comfortable there,” Franklin said. “I think it’s really good for him. He’s really motivated and really talented.”

Fashanu is welcoming the challenge, but admits that changing positions is more difficult than he first realized. He believes that quarterback Drew Allar has been patient and is adjusting well to the switch.

Penn State retained most of the talent on its offensive line and managed to create a depth chart that’s nearly two-deep with four-star players at every offensive line position.

Fashanu has been focused and driven in the weight room since the day he stepped on campus. He gained nearly 15 pounds since sustaining his injury last season, and 30 pounds since arriving at Penn State.

Fashanu remains grateful, humble and optimistic about the opportunity to finally play a healthy season of football at Penn State.

“I just have all the thanks in the world for our training staff and our strength staff who brought me back here,” Fashanu said. “My teammates and coaches are all extremely supportive of me. They’re always encouraging me to keep going.”