In another sign that the upcoming football season is grinding through the long off-season, the 2023 Walter Camp Preseason Football Subdivision All-America Teams (say that fast five times) were named on March 31. Penn State football had three players that were honored with a selection.
OL Olu Fashanu (JR): First-team offense
This comes as a surprise to no one. Thought by many to be a first-round pick in the 2023 draft, he DID surprise many by electing to come back for the 2023 Penn State season.
That move could pay off with enormous dividends, as according to NFLDRAFTBUZZ.com, Fashanu is the top-ranked offensive lineman for the 2024 NFL draft.
A 2022 member of the second-team preseason All-America squad even though he made his first career start in the 2022 Outback Bowl, Fashanu was having a monstrous season, not allowing a sack and being part of an offensive line group that blocked for the most prolific pair of true freshman in Penn State history.
However, this dream season was cut short after 8 games. While the exact nature of the injury was not disclosed, it was severe enough to keep him out of the remaining four regular season games and the Rose Bowl victory over #8 Utah.
The one positive to come from the injury was the opportunity that true freshman Drew Shelton took advantage of to gain invaluable experience, which he made the most of.
With Fashanu sitting out of the Blue-White Game, a common observation was the O-Line play was lacking. Rest assured, when September 2nd comes, Fashanu will be anchoring a line that paves the way for one of the nation’s best-rushing attacks.
Not to mention protecting some kid named Allar at QB…
DB Kalen King (JR): First-team defense
Just like Fashanu, King is a repeat All-American as well, earning 2nd-team honors before the start of last season. Unlike Fashanu, injuries didn’t mar his spectacular season.
An integral part of the 10th-ranked defense in points allowed per game (18.2), King had a total of 30 tackles, was second in the team with three interceptions, and led the team in passes defended with 15.
King promises to be a leading contributor to a secondary that many think will be the strength of the Penn State football defense. Despite losing two NFL Draft Picks in Safety Ji’Ayir Brown and Corner Back Joey Porter, Jr., the secondary is expected to be even stronger.
Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, now in his second season at Penn State, has a plethora of talent to implement his widely-acknowledged complex defense schemes.
One of those schemes is called the “prowler package” which is predicated on having a bevy of talented secondary personnel that can sometimes see as many as seven DBs on the field.
King figures to be the lead prowler.
DL Chop Robinson (JR): Second-team defense
Demeioun “Chop” Robinson’s presence was immediately felt after his transfer from Maryland. Second in the team in sacks (5.5), he also tallied 18 solo tackles and one forced fumble. Two of sacks came against his former school, as Penn State shutout Maryland 30-0.
Pro Football Focus graded out the Top Ten Edge Rushers from the 2022 season and Chop was ranked the highest. He anchored a defensive line that was sixth in the nation with 43 sacks and tied with Oklahoma for fifth in team tackles for loss with 104.
What should give opposing QBs nightmares this entire off-season, Robinson has put on 14 pounds of muscle and is performing feats like this workout that Daniel Gallen tweeted.
What Penn State football player did not make this team
In what seems to be a familiar refrain for Nittany Lion fans, RB Nicholas Singleton did not make the squad. Instead, Michigan’s Blake Corum and Mississippi’s Quinshon Judkins were both first team and Wisconsin’s Braelon Allen and Arkansas’s Raheim Sanders were on the second squad.
While all four of those running backs had more total yards rushing, none of them rushed for a higher yards-per-carry average than Singleton. The closest one was Sanders, who averaged 6.5 yards to Singleton’s 6.8.
Each of the four had over 200 carries, with Judkins rushing 274 times. Give those rushes to Singleton and he has over 1,800 yards and another nine touchdowns. Nicholas also averaged a touchdown every 13 carries and Allen was the closest with 13.8 carries for every touchdown.
Preseason awards and teams are nice and give people (me) something to write and talk about.
By the end of the year, I strongly suspect these All-America teams to include a few more Lions.