Across the Pond, Utah’s Big Bam Olaseni is now playing his ‘pure game’

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Pasadena, California • Bam Olaseni hits people.

That’s what he does. This is his job, a job he’s pretty well done for, a big rig slamming into a big rig, over and over again. He calls it “fun”.

But Utah’s tallest man – 6ft 8in and 330lb – is himself a human collision, a mass of flesh and bone, talent and diversity, some of which are completely unexpected, many of which are pretty cool.

On the one hand, the Utes’ senior left tackle is a Briton. Give the man some tea and watch him make a way.

He was born and raised in North London, a place he is proud of, but also wanted to get away from. Not that his life there was terrible. It’s just that he looked for a path to a better existence, to more comfort and more success, to more money, and he found it – and still finds it – after climbing straight through a little Kansas town called Garden City, now on the rise further to Salt Lake City and this week here in Pasadena, and I also look forward in the near future to playing for a team, city, any team, any city in the NFL.

“This is my goal,” he says.

Not just to find this path for himself, for his family, but to assess the road for other international kids who might not want to play football, cricket or rugby, or throw the kick or throw a kick. disc, but, instead, doing what he does with such glee – “punching people in the face and crushing them to the ground” – and without worrying about the nasty details of receiving a yellow or red card , or a prison sentence.

Here, everything is part of the game, a vital and valued part.

“The game in its purest form” is how he characterizes American football.

It’s a beautiful thing, he thinks. For a British athlete, a rare thing he knows.

(Rick Scuteri | AP) Utah offensive lineman Bamidele Olaseni (77) in the first half against Arizona on November 13 in Tucson.

There aren’t many top college players, or NFL stars, who speak with Olaseni’s accent, who have their backgrounds, who come from a place far, say, from the southern part of the country. Florida or LA or the heart of the United States. Its size – the upper limit even for modern gaming – is just one feature that sets it apart. And that sets him apart. I mean, look at the mountain that’s him. The man’s dimensions were top to bottom, left to right. But there’s also the geography across the pond, the tendency to consider things that most soccer players don’t, as well as a network of family culture that includes broad Caribbean influences, from South America and Africa.

“A mix,” he calls his family tree.

But there is more.

For example, he was a skateboarder in his youth, an activity that his size eventually shrunk. Like his interest in fashion. This is something he planned, once his playing days were over he could consider himself a master designer of clothes and shoes. Such as the hip adornment of the jewelry he wears in the form of piercings in his nose and on his face. Such as, the hair flow. He looks like a guy out of an ad for a dreaded clarifying shampoo.

There’s a lot going on here, nothing more important to him than Vince Lombardi’s game.

Take it all, the International Man has style, but he hits like an International-Harvester. He’s from a foreign country, took a different and retarded path to football, but enjoys the game as if he had an Orlando Pace poster on his wall as a child.

There is something fascinating about this.

It was in UK GQ that a quote from the bespectacled fictional character Paddington Bear appeared, one that goes like this: “In London everyone is different and that means everyone can fit in.”

Bamidele Olaseni (pronounced bam-ih-deli oh-lah-senny) has its place there.

And it also integrates well into SLC.

Not bad for an individual who never played football until the age of 19. He learned the game, at least initially, in front of a screen, playing a Madden video game – rest in peace, John. Soon after, he stepped onto a pitch, playing in what amounted to an English recreational league for a club team called the London Blitz.

You can teach the basics of raw football, even learn some of it in weird ways. No one can teach Big Ben’s height, but for Olaseni, it wasn’t enough. In Utah, absorbing the nuances of blocking passes, with the necessary foot movement and balance, a kind of almost passive-aggressive, partly counter-intuitive mental immersion, and blocking the run, punches and knocks in the grass, took time. He only emerged this season as a Division I star.

It was his intention from the start.

Having had an older brother who played Division I basketball in the United States, Olaseni also looked to America for his future. He landed in Utah on a partial scholarship to Garden City Community College, located in a farming village in western Kansas, a country place where dust blows on hills and plains and where gifted athletes and coaches go to JC. Notable alumni include Tyreek Hill, Corey Dillon, Tyler Rogers, Keith Smart, Gene Keady, Mark Fox, and Brent Venables.

Add Bam, who became a raw but promising college All-American just three years after starting the game, to the roster now. He came to the Utes afterward, pursued by other high profile programs, and was quickly suspended by the NCAA for a misstep Olaseni still doesn’t understand. “I don’t know,” he said. ” It’s from the past.

Either way, it only slowed him down temporarily. As his Rose Bowl appearance complements his college eligibility, with the upcoming East-West Shrine showcase also in the plans, the 25-year-old will have lived up to his own expectations, having recently been named the All-Pac second team. -12. for the utes and considered a genuine professional prospect.

He is convinced: this career in the NFL awaits him.

Studies were important to his parents and to him in London, but now that Olaseni has seen his potential on the pitch, he is now focusing on everything he can, not only for his Utes teammates, but also with a view to a lucrative future.

The goal has always been to provide for herself and her family.

“I will go where the opportunity takes me,” he said.

The opportunity is what he sees inside the famous old venue about to be occupied by thousands and thousands of Utah fans in Pasadena. This is where many eyes will be on the Utes – and Olaseni says it’s an award he and his teammates have been aiming for and earned over an entire season of stagecoaching. This is the opportunity to show, as the great man says, “what we have worked for”.

And that “we”, in his mind, includes more than the Utes. These are all footballers born and raised in other countries who love and are made to play American football.

“For me,” he says, “it’s about creating an international voice.

Olaseni imagines other athletes, from various places, from north London to south Timbuktu, watching him play under the bright lights of the Rose Bowl and having the idea planted in their imaginations that they too can do what Bam is doing.

“I miss being in London,” he says. “But I’m here doing something …”

He hesitates.

“… I came here for a reason and I will. I try to set an example for the people at home, to show the children that they can come here, work hard and be successful.

Play the pure game of Bam Olaseni.

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