Daniel Faalele measures 6 feet, 8 inches on the growth chart.
The 3-star offensive tackle at IMG Academy has yet to play a down. That’s a novel concept for a behemoth who shared word he had an offer from Georgia on Jan. 24.
The Australian native didn’t know what a first down was about 10 months ago.
But he already has that offer and has developed what seems to be substantial interest in UGA after a visit this month.
The 17-year-old tilts the scale at 400 pounds and also can dunk a basketball.
— Daniel Faalele🇦🇺 (@DanielFaalele_) March 5, 2017
Faalele teased how well that UGA visit went with a specific message on Twitter.
Something bout them dawgs man? #GoDawgs ??
— Daniel Faalele (@DanielFaalele_) March 4, 2017
What did he mean by “something ’bout them Dawgs” when he tweeted that?
“Just the facilities and the coach,” Faalele told DawgNation. “That’s coach (Sam) Pittman. I feel like I can build a strong relationship with him. I heard he is going to be there for awhile. Just looking at his accolades he’s taken a lot of offensive linemen to the league. I just like the atmosphere there and how he teaches the game.”
Faalele said it was one of his best visits so far.
“He basically just told me he liked how smart I am and how big I am obviously and how fast I am for my size,” Faalele said. “He thinks I can make a big change in their offensive line and their offense in general.”
The rising senior at IMG said Pittman told him he was one of the biggest players he’s recruited. Isaiah Wilson, the 6-foot-7 signee this year, was also in that conversation. But Faalele has at least an inch and about 30-plus pounds on Wilson.
He stated that the football staff at UGA measured his wingspan at 87 or 88 inches. His big foot fits into a size-18 football cleat.
“I just already feel very comfortable there just with the coaching staff and the facilities there,” he said. “With them being the number one college town it is a great place. I just already feel very comfortable there. … They showed me a lot of love there and (with that tweet) I just wanted to express how I felt about them. There’s just something about (that place) I already like.”
Faalele was measured with a 23-inch vertical leap at the Nike Opening regional in Orlando last month. He threw the power ball 45 feet and ran the 40 in 5.62 seconds. His shuttle drill came in at 5.14 seconds.
That was better than at least 14 other offensive or defensive linemen at that camp. None of those weighed anywhere near 400 pounds. He came in with the 91.80 “Sparq” rating which wound up as the 57th-best from that camp.
That included players at every position. But his 91.80 showing was the third best out of all the offensive linemen who completed their testing at the camp.
Faalele’s schools of interest so far
The IMG team took a bus tour of all the top programs in the nation. There were stops at Clemson, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Wake Forest. Faalele felt the UGA visit was a “standout” visit among all of those.
“All of the visits were fun but yeah Georgia was definitely a standout just from a personal level with the atmosphere going around there and the coaches they have there,” Faalele said.
What other schools have made a great impression so far? He rattled off Michigan, LSU, Clemson, FSU and Miami, too.
LSU: “I have a good connection with coach (Jeff) Grimes there.”
Clemson: “It felt like a nice place with their new facilities and the culture there as well.”
FSU: “I’ve built a good relationship there with coach (Rick) Trickett.”
Miami: “I have a good relationship with Miami as well with coach (Stacy) Searels.”
He used that trip to start the fact-finding and his own research in regard to a current total of 18 offers from all these schools. That includes the coaching staffs and the recruiters which have extended them.
The offer from Georgia would be up there among his top schools, he confirmed.
He’s thinking about making his college decision on his 18th birthday, Nov. 9, but that is also subject to change.
Breaking down Daniel Faalele
Let’s talk about it in terms of one word: Upside.
When he moved to America from Australia last August, he didn’t have any knowledge of the game. No technique. No rules. Where to line up. Nothing.
When he had his reps at the Nike Opening regional in Orlando last month, he has ample quickness and decent feet for a player his size. That must be stressed. But his technique and overall game were not as polished as that of other prospects.
Here is another clip of the massive Daniel Faalele from Sunday's ORL Opening. Good recovery from the inexperienced big man here-nice upside pic.twitter.com/rF2vyHH7RH
— Craig Haubert (@CraigHaubert) February 21, 2017
— Craig Haubert (@CraigHaubert) February 20, 2017
He didn’t appear anywhere near as fluid. That should seem natural and not be taken as a knock.
It is worth repeating that he’s only been exposed to the game for about 9-10 months.
That should be expected given his limited exposure to the game plus the fact that he’s at least two inches taller and 80 pounds heavier than most elite offensive line prospects.
“I’m still learning the game,” the future business major said. “So that has been a process over the last 2-3 months now.”
Nolan Smith, his IMG teammate, is also one of Georgia’s most vocal commits. He will be a part of the Class of 2019 in Athens.
“He’s always going hard about his Bulldogs and just saying how they are going to start a movement with this recruiting class,” Faalele said. “He said if some guys in this recruiting class go there, it will help change the program around.”
He said the transition to football hasn’t been that trying.
“There hasn’t been a single hard part,” Faalele said. “It has sort of been a smooth transition overall just the way the coaches feed me information that is easy to understand and easy to apply. Physically the game is easy.”
He’s already identified what he likes the best about football. Well, besides winning.
“Completing assignments and getting pancakes,” Faalele said. “That’s just a great feeling.”