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Is the best player in the country on the Penn State football roster?

Two Penn State football stars will make a push for the claim this fall.



Penn State Football, Nicholas Singleton, Olu Fashanu, Walter Camp Award
Jan 2, 2023; Pasadena, California, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions running back Nicholas Singleton (10) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Utah Utes during the first half at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

By almost any metric, Penn State football has one of the most talented rosters in recent program history heading into the 2023 season. Numerous Nittany Lions scattered top position group lists throughout the offseason, and several Penn State standouts are already receiving first round hype for the 2024 NFL Draft. But does Penn State have the best player in college football on its roster in 2023? Nittany Lions Nicholas Singleton and Olu Fashanu will make a push for this title during the fall, as recently, the pair was named to the Walter Camp Award watch list for the player of the year in college football.

Fashanu and Singleton make college football player of the year watch list

On Friday, the Penn State football program announced that Olu Fashanu and Nicholas Singleton had made the Walter Camp Award watch list. The fourth-oldest award in the game, the Walter Camp Award is presented annually to the player of the year in college football. Last year’s winner, USC quarterback Caleb Williams, also went on to win the Heisman Trophy.

Olu Fashanu is an unquestioned leader of the Nittany Lions heading into 2023. Fashanu was a Walter Camp second-team All-American last season. Fashanu allowed no sacks in his eight starts in 2022 before an injury sidelined the star left tackle for the rest of the season. Viewed by many analysts as a potential top-10 NFL Draft pick last year, Fashanu decided to return to Penn State for his junior season and was voted a team captain following spring practice. In recent weeks, Fashanu has earned Big Ten preseason honors and was named to the Outland Trophy watch list.

Nicholas Singleton arguably had the most successful season of any true freshman in Penn State history in 2022. The 16th 1,000-yard rusher in Penn State history, Singleton joined Saquon Barkley and D.J. Dozier as only the third Penn State running back to reach the milestone as a freshman. He also set a Penn State freshman record with 12 rushing touchdowns. So far this month, Singleton has been named to the Maxwell AwardPaul Hornung Award, and Doak Walker Award watch lists. 

Does Penn State have the best player in college football in 2023?

Even beyond Olu Fashanu and Nicholas Singleton, there’s little questioning of the talent on this 2023 Penn State football team. But do either of these Nittany Lions have what it takes to take home the college football player of the year honors?

Unfortunately for Fashanu, history is not on his side. No offensive lineman has ever won the Walter Camp Award throughout its 56-year history. Singleton can become the third Penn State running back to win the award, following John Cappelletti (1973) and Larry Johnson (2002). However, the Walter Camp Award has primarily been a quarterback-driven honor as of late, with signal callers taking home the prize in seven of the last ten years.

Individual awards aside, Penn State will need Fashanu and Singleton, among other Nittany Lions, to meet their potential for the program to reach its high expectations for the 2023 season.

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Matt is a Co-owner and Editor in Chief of Basic Blues Nation. Launched in 2022, Basic Blues Nation is one of the fastest-growing websites covering all Penn State athletics, with over 3.5 million readers in 2023. Matt is also a credentialed member of the Penn State football beat, and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America.


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