Blue White Illustrated

June-July 2022

Penn State Sports Magazine

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Page 26 of 67

J U N E / J U L Y 2 0 2 2 2 7 W W W . B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M S P R I N G F O O T B A L L 2 0 2 2 lunch period and the start of afternoon classes to serve meals. During the football season, Fashanu and some of the other players would serve breakfast on the days when morning practice ended early. After the season was over, he would sometimes stop by just to see if there was anything that needed doing. "I did it from my freshman year all the way to my senior year when our school shut down because of COVID," Fashanu said. "That was probably one of the best aspects of going to that school, just get- ting an opportunity help out those in need." Gonzaga's mission statement calls on students to recognize "the many needs of the local and wider communities" and to "move beyond self-interest or self-cen- teredness in relationships with others." Fashanu took both of those directives to heart. He came away from his high school experience with a better under- standing of the difficulties that others must endure. He also gained an appre- ciation for the opportunities that he had received growing up. While he was vol- unteering, he would often talk with the people he met at the shelter. Those con- versations only reinforced the school's message. "Most of the people were telling me, just be appreciative of where you are," he recalled. "Because you never know when anything in your life could change. You've got to take a moment once in a while to be appreciative of where you are, how you got there." A Quick Rise Where is Fashanu now? He's in an ad- vantageous spot in the Penn State foot- ball program, a likely starter at left tackle after a promising debut last fall. His tenure at Gonzaga was a key part of that journey. Fashanu had enrolled at the Jesuit school in northwest Washington because of its academic reputation; he wasn't focused on sports initially and played on the ju- nior varsity team until his junior year. But once he became a starter for the varsity, he quickly developed into a four-star prospect and a recruiting target for Ohio State, Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, Oklahoma and Oregon, among others. Fashanu chose Penn State because it was the perfect distance from home — not too close, not too far away. Since then, he's taken full advantage of his opportuni- ties. Having ar- rived on campus in the summer of 2020, the 6 - f o o t - 6 , 3 1 0 - p o u n d l i n e m a n has impressed PSU insiders over the past two years with his coachability, as well as with a range of physical attributes that can't be coached. "Some things are God-given talent, and he's got some of those things," se- nior center Juice Scruggs told report- ers after a practice session earlier this spring. "You're going to see real soon, don't worry. You all are going to see what I'm talking about." Growing Confidence Penn State followers already have seen a sneak preview of Fashanu's potential. With Rasheed Walker injured and out of action, the young lineman made his first career start in the Outback Bowl against Arkansas last January. Fashanu learned from position coach Phil Trautwein about a week before the game that he was going to be starting. It was a big moment for him, but not too big. "I was definitely a lot more excited than nervous," he said. "Going into the game, right before the game, I was ner- vous. But I was also really prepared. My teammates and coaches inspired a lot of confidence in me. You could tell they were really confident in my abilities, and seeing their confidence in me really helped me a lot going into the game. I'm really thankful to them for showing that they had a certain trust and belief in me." Penn State ended up struggling in the game, finishing with its lowest point to- tal of the season in a 24-10 loss to the Razorbacks. But Fashanu showed prom- ise. On 44 pass-blocking snaps, he didn't allow a sack, hit or hurry, nor was he penalized in the game. Pro Football Fo- cus gave him a pass-blocking grade of 87.5 percent, the best score of any of the seven Penn State offensive linemen who played in the game, and his overall score of 71.6 was second on the team behind starting right tackle Caedan Wallace. Looking back on his starting debut, Fashanu doesn't grade himself quite as highly as PFF did. "I thought I did all right," he allowed. "But watching the film, there were definitely a lot of things I could improve on. And from that point to right now, I feel like with

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