One of the more unique and fun recruits that has been brought in during the PJ Fleck era, Daniel Faalele has a unique story, a massive body and a great Gopher career. He now leaves the program with a year of eligibility left to move on to the NFL.
Faalele’s path to Big Ten football is well-known here. The Australian native who was strictly a basketball player until early in his high school career. At this point it was decided he would move to Florida and attend IMG Academy to play...football. His first year, he didn’t play, he just learned the game and how to be an offensive lineman. His unique combination of size, agility and rawness made him very intriguing to college coaches. After his senior season he had offers and serious pursuit from the likes of Michigan, Alabama and Georgia. But a couple of his friends and teammates were coming to Minnesota, he built a solid relationship with PJ Fleck and he decided to be a Gopher.
As a freshman he started slow, not starting and really not playing much until week 6 when he was thrust into the starting lineup at RT against Ohio State. And he immediately impressed, locking down the right side of the offensive line that had previously struggled. He started the final 8 games of his true freshman season in 2018, part of the stretch that really set the table for the 2019 team.
In 2019 he started all but 2 games, which were missed due to injury. And this was the year he really started to show out.
Faalele did not participate in the Covid-shortened season of 2020.
Then in 2021 he had another outstanding season, starting 12 games and earning 1st team All-Big Ten honors from the coaches.
What Faalele is going to bring is a very large and a very agile right tackle. He is an absolute beast in rush blocking. He is a large and very strong tackle who gets his hands on defenders and they struggle to get off him to make the tackle.
In pass protection he is well-served by having such long arms and legs. He can get a little too upright at times and is susceptible to speed rushers blowing by him. But his long arms and long strides allows him to make up for it, to some degree.
Well he is going to be pretty locked in as a RT and he is going to fit best with a power-running offense but projects to be a starting caliber and solid RT at the next level.
Faalele appears to be a certain 2nd day draft pick. As you can see below, there are plenty of mocks that have him going in the 2nd and he may also slip into the 3rd. While we hope he gets up into the 2nd round, I find that projection to the Chargers to be an intriguing one for him. I think the Chargers would be very pleased to have Faalele on the opposite side of Rashawn Slater for the next several years.