Penn State has received a big boost thanks to left tackle Olu Fashanu’s decision to come back for the 2023 season, and here’s an early look at how next year’s offensive line might look with Fashanu staying in school.
LEFT TACKLE: OLU FASHANU (NATURALLY)
Snap Count (Per Pro Football Focus): 542
Fashanu is already one of the best tackles in the country. Before he got hurt against Ohio State in Penn State’s eighth game, he became a star and QB Sean Clifford’s best protector. He should only be better next year. Not a lot of teams have a likely first-round pick decide to stay in school. Penn State and its offensive line has that with Fashanu.
LEFT GUARD: LANDON TENGWALL
Snap Count: 278
Tengwall was Penn State’s top signee of the 2021 class, but his career hasn’t taken off the way Fashanu’s has. 2022 didn’t go the way Tengwall wanted, and his season lasted just five games. He got injured during warmups at the Michigan game Oct. 15, and ended up missing the rest of the year. Fashanu had a metoric rise in 2022. Could Tengwall have one in 2023?
CENTER: HUNTER NOURZAD
Snap Count: 519
Nourzad stepped in at left guard after Tengwall went down, but also has experience at center from his days at Cornell. Nourzad already announced his intent to come back to Penn State for the 2023 season, so he’ll be in his sixth-year.
An vet like Nourzad should be an adequate replacement for Juice Scruggs, assuming Scruggs doesn’t use his sixth year of eligibility.
RIGHT GUARD: SAL WORMLEY
Snap Count: 768
The right guard position could be in question.
Wormley is Penn State’s current starter, but he could be challenged for his job before next season by Vega Ioane, who’s shown promise as a true freshman. Ioane could be starting at some point in 2023, but for now, let’s assume the veteran wins the job out of camp and is Penn State’s starting right guard Week 1 against West Virginia. Wormley has been a workhorse for Penn State this season and has played by far the most snaps of any Penn State offensive lineman.
A guy like that is always useful, and if Ioane Wormley for the starting job, that’s only better for Penn State’s offensive line.
RIGHT TACKLE: DREW SHELTON
Snap Count: 324
Shelton stepped in for Fashanu and held his own. The true freshman is big, talented and, because he’s from Downingtown, Pennsylvania, extra likable. There’s no reason not to believe he’ll be a full-time starter in 2023.
AN INFLUX OF TALENT
Penn State’s 2023 recruiting class is highlighted by its offensive line commits. Four-star guards Alex Birchmeier and J’ven Williams are Penn State’s top two commits in this cycle, and another four-star, tackle Anthony Donkoh, is coming in as well. With Penn State having so much talent back, it means the freshmen won’t have pressure to become starters right away. That’s a good thing for Penn State. It means the youngsters can focus on improving their game behind the scenes, so when the time comes for them to play Big Ten football, they’re ready.