I remember when I first put my full faith in PJ Fleck, as the head coach and savior of the Minnesota Gopher football program. He had just gotten done dropping in on local blue-chip offensive line recruits with a helicopter and he was out selling hope, his culture, and his many mantras to everyone, whether they wanted to listen or not. I wasn’t quite sold on PJ during that time but I DEFINITELY wasn’t calling him “Brewster 2.0” either.
I knew I liked how badly he wanted the best kids in Minnesota and beyond… but he hadn’t coached a snap yet and his recruiting efforts were too young to produce immediate results.
But then two months later, this happened:[/et_pb_text][et_pb_code _builder_version=”3.25.4″]
— GopherHole.com (@GopherHole) December 10, 2017
And, there it was. I was a believer. I was FLECKNOTIZED and have been ever since. In that time, he also added Rashod Bateman, Victor Viramontes, and Alex Reigelsperger (among others) who were all ranked about 5 points (and a star) higher than what we had seen with the Kill/Claeys era. Vic didn’t work out at QB, but is now playing linebacker at UNLV and Alex just retired from football this week due to health-related (concussion) reasons but the talent being brought in was recognizably better.
Even with all of that talent though, there was one guy who stuck out among the rest. His high school teammate and commitment partner, Curtis Dunlap, was ranked higher but Daniel Faalele was a (very lovable) monster that was hard to hide, no matter the crowd.
Well, he’s now a true Sophomore, standing at 6-9, 400 lbs and he’s being noticed all over the country for, not only his size, but the incredible athletic ability that he brings with it. The latest to take notice was “The Athletic“, who ranked the top-50 “freak” athletes of 2019 college football this week.
Our massive teddy bear came in at #11 in the nation:
The humongous sophomore from Australia comes it at 6-9, 400 pounds. He has 275 pounds of lean mass, which is more lean mass than most football players weigh — including most of the guys he’s tasked with blocking. Faalele bench pressed 391 pounds this offseason. He hang cleans 375 and squats 570, but it’s his movement at that size that is eye-opening stuff. He vertical jumps 29 inches, who for someone 300 pounds would be really good. For someone 400 pounds … well, we’ll get to that in a minute. He broad jumped 8-7. Same deal as it relates to what an athletic 300-pound NFL prospect would do.
For more context, consider this: Faalale’s vertical jump would have tied for 14th best among the 57 offensive linemen at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine.
Now consider this: Dontari Poe was one of the all-time Combine freaks after he ran a 4.98 40 while weighing in at 346 pounds. He vertical jumped 29.5 inches and broad jumped 8-9. Faalele is more than 50 pounds heavier, and his vertical is just a half-inch less and he’s two inches behind on the broad jump. Trent Brown, who just signed a $66 million contract with the Raiders after starting at left tackle for the Super Bowl-winning Patriots, trimmed down to 355 on his 6-8 1/2 frame for the Combine had a 28-inch vertical and did 8-10 in the broad.
We are looking at a future 1st round NFL draft pick in Daniel Faalele, if he continues to develop at his current rate. He’s a massive Fred Flinstone on genetic steroids and he holds down the right side of a young offensive line that should grow into one of the best in the nation. Even with all of the “hoo-rah” that Fleck brings (that reminds some of Brewster), his dedication to improving the offensive and defensive lines shows he has a lot more brains to go with that mouth… unlike that other coach who had a bunch of (empty) mantras before him.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]