After surrendering 13 sacks in just five games, Minnesota is making a big switch on the offensive line, turning to its massive true freshman offensive tackle, Daniel Faalele.
Faalele stands at 6-9, weighing in at 400 pounds. He's absolutely enormous, dwarfing Ohio State's biggest defensive lineman by 92 pounds, and even the biggest slob on a massive Buckeye offensive line by two inches and 81 pounds.
This is what 69 400 lbs looks like. True frosh Aussie Daniel Faalele pic.twitter.com/K63zGCVfsp
— Dave Revsine (@BTNDaveRevsine) August 16, 2018
He has clear size, but one thing he does not have is experience. Faalele had never even played football until his junior year of high school, and never saw the field until his senior season.
Originally from Australia, he enrolled in the IMG Academy where he spent his entire junior season on as a practice player, learning the game. He played his senior year and earned 20 Division I offers as a four-star prospect before ultimately choosing Minnesota.
Still raw but with undeniable promise and unteachable size, the plan was for Faalele to redshirt this season. But the Gophers need help on the offensive line, and head coach P.J. Fleck thinks Faalele can provide, announcing at his Monday press conference that his redshirt is off for the season.
"Daniel [Faalele] is a guy that can handle a lot... I feel like at this point, he can play." -Fleck, on starting Faalele on the offensive line at Ohio State.
— Minnesota Football (@GopherFootball) October 9, 2018
Faalele got a tough draw for his first collegiate start as he'll go up against arguably the best defensive line in the country. He'll have blocking assignments against the likes of Chase Young, Jonathon Cooper, Tyreke Smith and Tyler Friday while trying to keep fellow true freshman starter Zack Annexstad upright.
Blocking that Buckeye defensive line is a tough ask for anyone, especially a true freshman making his first-ever start. But not everyone is 6-9, 400 lbs., so we'll have to see how it plays out.