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Five Huge College Football Returnees

BY: ZACHARY JONES / STAFF REPORTER

Penn State Offensive Lineman Olu Fashanu (74) blocks on the play with teammate Nick Singleton (10) in the backfield. (Photo: Paul Burdick/StateCollege.com)

Olu Fashanu: Penn State, Offensive Line: Olu Fashanu is definitely a surprise return. Initially it’s obvious that he is a very talented player, and also very young. The 19 year old has already caught the eye of many scouts, and was also a lot of peoples OT1 coming into this year's draft. However, it is not necessarily at his disadvantage to return since he will still only be 21 by the time the 2024 NFL Draft rolls around. All the intangibles are there for Olu. He has an amazing frame at 6’6 321, great arm length, incredible athleticism for his build, and solid technique. He is somewhat of a building project since his run blocking has somewhat struggled, but many think he could fix some of the issues with this extra year. Olu was a projected top round talent and some saw him going to the Indianapolis Colts, Arizona Cardinals, or Pittsburgh Steelers in the top 15.


Kayshon Boutte: LSU, Wide Receiver: Kayshon Boutte is an amazing player and prospect, another guy many thought would end up getting drafted in the first round too. While many scouts love Boutte, it was obvious that his production was nowhere near where it should have been this year. He only found the endzone 2 times this season in 11 games compared to his sophomore year where he scored 9 times in 6 games, it was just lackluster. However, by no means does that make Boutte a bad player or prospect. He has elite level speed and great hands. He’s a solid route runner as well, but past injuries may be a problem with some NFL scouts. Ultimately he should strive in his senior season and second year under the new LSU coaching staff. Many people saw Boutte as a WR3-5 and he had been mocked often to the Ravens in the mid 1st round, usually as the WR4 off the board.


Michael Penix Jr.: Washington, Quarterback: Michael Penix Jr had a stellar year at Washington after transferring from Indiana. He passed for an impressive 4,354 yards and totaled 33 touchdowns on the year. Penix Jr was one of this year's draft risers after his first year as a Huskie, he went from a not very talked about guy to 1st round conversations for many. Some didn’t see Penix Jr as a 1st rounder in an already deep QB class, but it was not for lack of talent nor production. He could have been an early to mid 2nd to either the New Orleans Saints or the Indianapolis Colts.


LaDarius Henderson: Arizona State, Offensive Line: LaDarius Henderson is not only returning, but he is also entering the transfer portal, escaping the fire that the Sun Devils have created this year. Henderson was a solid interior offensive lineman during his time for ASU, but for the sake of his future, many believe he made the correct decision to find a new school to support his draft aspirations. Henderson is a solid athlete with a great frame for the NFL. He has very lengthy arms as well and works decently in protection, but he does have some things to correct in his approach with his body control and weight distribution. He has received grades of an early 2nd round pick. An extra year could be good for Henderson especially if he could work on his technique to go even higher in the draft.

Arizona State star guard LaDarius Henderson (77) in a 3 point stance ready for a play against Stanford. (Photo: Kevin Abele/IconSportswire)

Devin Leary: NC State, Quarterback: Devin Leary is another player in the transfer portal and returning. Leary saw a lot of hype before the season started, but an injury derailed what could have been his defining season. Leary didn’t start the season off amazingly prior to his injury, so it’s no surprise that he is returning, but it is somewhat of a surprise that he has decided to enter the transfer portal. Especially considering how well it went with the Wolfpack in his sophomore year where he threw for nearly 3500 yards and 35 touchdowns. It is expected by many that Leary will transfer to the quarterback needy Notre Dame to help boost his stock and boost the Fighting Irish back into CFP contention. Due to injuries Leary’s draft stock wasn’t all that prevalent, but he has the potential to be in first round discussions next year if he enters.

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