Gopher lineman ranks high in annual college football 'Freaks List'

Daniel Faalele is only a sophomore.
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Daniel Faalele

Daniel Faalele burst onto the college football season as a freshman with the Gophers last year, but the big offensive lineman is generating even more hype entering his junior season. 

At 6-foot-9 and 400 pounds, Faalele ranks 11th on Bruce Feldman's annual college football "Freaks List." 

Feldman has been creating his top-50 freaks list every year for nearly two decades in an effort to "showcase guys who generate buzz inside their programs by displaying the type of rare physical abilities that wow even those folks who are used to observing gifted athletes every day."

You can get the full top-50 list (paywall) via The Athletic, but here's what he says about Faalele. Do note that Faalele is a sophomore, not a junior. 

"The humongous junior 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."

Feldman goes on to note that Faalele's abilities compare favorably to NFL stars Dontari Poe and Trent Brown. Poe is a defensive lineman while Brown just signed a $66 million contract with the Raiders. Faalele is about 50 pounds heavier than Poe and Brown but still runs as fast and jumps as high. 

"This guy is more than a novelty," Gophers offensive line coach Brian Callahan told Bleacher Report in May. "This is as good as I've been around, and I've been around some good ones that are starting in the NFL. But this guy could be special."

Faalele, who never played competitive football until 2017, played in 10 games and started eight at right tackle last season. 

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