The NFL can wait: Why Olu Fashanu will return to Penn State in 2023

He's already one of the best offensive linemen in the nation.

He's a projected Top 10 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft − ready to make millions of dollars.

But Olu Fashanu plans to come back to play at Penn State next season anyway.

The rapidly rising star offensive tackle announced on social media today that he intends to return to the Nittany Lions in 2023 to earn his degree and help his team try to achieve lofty goals of winning Big Ten and national championships.

Penn State offensive lineman Olumuyiwa Fashanu (74) lifts up running back Nick Singleton (10) after the freshman running back scored his first of two touchdown against Minnesota at Beaver Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022, in State College.
Penn State offensive lineman Olumuyiwa Fashanu (74) lifts up running back Nick Singleton (10) after the freshman running back scored his first of two touchdown against Minnesota at Beaver Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022, in State College.

“Although playing in the NFL is a goal of mine, there is still more that I want to achieve personally and collectively as a program,” Fashanu wrote in a Twitter post. “After several conversations with my parents and coaches, I will be returning to Penn State for the 2023 season. I want to thank my family, teammates and coaches who have helped me get to this point in my life. My work here is far from over and I look forward to getting back to work with my brothers.”

The 6-foot-6, 310-pound redshirt sophomore could possibly even use more seasoning. He's only 19 years old and has started just nine games in college, including last January's Outback Bowl vs. Arkansas. He's missed the past four games with an undisclosed injury.

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Fashanu exploded onto the NFL Draft scene because of his elite physical measurables and how he turned them into stellar performances early this fall. He did not give up a single sack this season and was not penalized through his 542 offensive snaps, according to Pro Football Focus.

He did not even allow a single quarterback "pressure" in 50 pass-blocking snaps against top five Ohio State in October.

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Fashanu's decision is a huge piece of Penn State's groundwork for what may be its most promising preseason yet under coach James Franklin. Another offensive line starter, senior Hunter Nourzad, already announced that he will return for next season, as well.

Penn State should be a Top 10 team heading into next summer, as they bring back a load of young talent, including the nation's top freshman running back duo (Nick Singleton, Kaytron Allen), arguably the nation's top freshman defender (Abdul Carter) and highly-regarded rookie quarterback Drew Allar.

Fashanu may be the most notable, considering that multiple NFL Draft anaysts considered him to be a first-round pick this coming spring, if he had entered.

Penn State sophomore offensive lineman Olumuyiwa Fashanu talks with a reporter during football media day at Beaver Stadium on Saturday, August 6, 2022, in State College.
Penn State sophomore offensive lineman Olumuyiwa Fashanu talks with a reporter during football media day at Beaver Stadium on Saturday, August 6, 2022, in State College.

The left tackle played his high school football at Gonzaga College High in Washington, D.C. and was teammates with USC quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate Caleb Williams.

Fashanu should earn his undergraduate degree in supply chain management over the next year before starting work on a master's.

Earlier this fall, guard Sal Worlmley (another returning offensive line starter next season) said this about what makes Fashanu special:

"His work ethic, most definitely. Because not only is he a tremendous athlete, he's a tremendous student in class. He's always talking about exams he's got coming up, classes, how much studying he's got to do − on top of studying film and watching other players.

"So his work ethic as a whole is extremely impressive. It's something that everybody can look on and learn from."

Frank Bodani covers Penn State football for the York Daily Record and USA Today Network. Contact him at  fbodani@ydr.com and follow him on Twitter @YDRPennState.

This article originally appeared on York Daily Record: Penn State football: Olu Fashanu, NFL Draft, Caleb Williams, Rose Bowl