In their never-ending quest to unearth recruiting talent, college football coaches leave no stone unturned. Or, in this case, no massive boulder.
17-year-old Daniel Faalele, a 6-9, 394-pound native of Australia who is enrolled at the famed IMG Academy in Florida, holds offers from, among others, Arkansas, Georgia LSU, Miami, Michigan and Oregon State. The fact that someone as large as Faalele is drawing big-time interest on the recruiting trail is far from surprising; the fact that he has never played a single snap in a high school football game only serves to add to his burgeoning legend.
According to an excellent piece by ESPN.com‘s Thomas Neumann, Faalele was discovered by a recruiter from the University of Hawaii at a Melbourne-area gym. Faalele, who had never even watched a football game let alone played the sport prior to coming to the United States, ultimately made his way last August to IMG Academy, home to some of the top football recruits in the country.
Faalele didn’t play a down his first season at IMG, although he did practice with the team as the coaching staff opted to ease him into the sport. This spring, though, the offensive tackle is expected to work with the first team as he continues to progress as a Class of 2018 recruit.
The scary part, however, may just be that, as enormous as he already is, he’s yet to reach his peak physically. From Neumann’s story:
Thanks in part to a background in rugby and basketball, Faalele has quick feet and extraordinary agility for someone his size. Despite weighing close to 400 pounds, he doesn’t appear fat because his frame is so solid.
“He’s just a freak of nature, obviously,” IMG strength coach David Ballou said. “As thick as he is and as big as he is, you wouldn’t expect him to move like he does. He’s a powerful dude, but he’s had limited strength background before coming here. From our perspective, his training age is 1. He’s an untapped gem.”
Matt Rhea, IMG head of sport science, said Faalele boasts the highest jumping power he has ever measured — including some pro athletes — and that the Aussie phenom has acceleration speed that is off the charts compared to typical prep running backs or linebackers. All that said, Ballou and Rhea are molding Faalele to be leaner.
“I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if he gains 40 pounds of muscle,” Rhea said. “Even as good as he looks and moves now, there’s still a transformation that is coming. He may gain 40 pounds of muscle but lose 80 pounds of fat. That kid at 350, with that muscle mass, is going to be impressive.
Faalele is currently unranked by 247Sports.com, although the recruiting website writes that the lineman “was one of the reasons Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh elected to have a satellite camp in Melbourne.” Interest in Faalele is certainly increasing as, two days ago, he received an offer from Georgia.
— Daniel Faalele (@DanielFaalele_) January 24, 2017
Perhaps the best part of the original ESPN.com story is the nugget thrown in at the very end.
Just imagine if he had been discovered a few years earlier and had the opportunity to play four varsity seasons. With that in mind, consider that Faalele has a younger brother, 11-year-old Taylor, back home in Melbourne.
“I think he’s actually projected to be bigger than me,” Faalele said. “He’s 6-foot, 250 pounds and [wears] size 13 [shoes]. He wants to come to IMG as well, so hopefully he can follow in my footsteps.