From across the pond, Utah’s Big Bam Olaseni is now playing his ‘pure game’


Pasadena, Calif. • Bam Olaseni stabbed in the body.

That’s what he does. That’s his job, a job he’s pretty much accomplished, the big rig crashing into the big rig, over and over again. He calls it “joy”.

But Utah’s largest man – 6 feet 8, weighing 330 pounds – is a collision of people in himself, a pile of flesh and blood and talent and variety, some of which are completely unexpected, in part. big is pretty cool.

For one, Utes’ senior left-handler is an Englishman. Give the man a cup of tea and watch him make open lanes.

He was born and raised in north London, a place he is proud of, but also where he wants to leave. Not that his life there was terrible. It’s just that he was looking for a path to a better, more comfortable and more successful existence, more money, and he found it – and is still looking for it – as he climbed straight up. over to a small town in Kansas called Garden City, now moving up further than in Salt Lake City and this week, here in Pasadena, and also looking forward to playing for several teams in the near future, a city as well. any city, any team, any city in the NFL.

“That was my aim,” he said.

Not only finding that path for themselves, for their families, but for other international kids who might not want to play football, cricket or rugby or shoot or throw discs, but instead , do what he does with such joy – “slap people in the face and smash their bodies to the ground” – and don’t have to worry about the nasty details of getting yellow or red cards, or prison sentences.

Here, it’s all part of the game, an important part, of value.

“Pure game,” is how he characterizes American football.

That’s a beautiful thing, he thought. For a British athlete, a rarity, he knows.

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

There aren’t many people who lead top colleges, nor NFL stars, who speak with the accent that Olaseni speaks, who have his background, who come from a faraway place, such as southern Florida. or LA or central USA. His size – the upper limit even for the modern game – is just one trait that sets him apart. And it makes him different. I mean, look at that mountain that’s him. The man’s dimensions spread, up and down, left and right. But there’s also broad geography, a tendency to look at things most footballers don’t, as well as a familial cultural web that includes broad influences from the Caribbean, from South America and from Europe Fly.

“A blend,” he calls his family tree.

But there’s so much more.

For instance, he was a skateboarder in his youth, a pursuit whose sheer size was ultimately limited. Such as his taste for fashion. That’s what he’s keeping an eye on, once his playing days are over he could see himself as a master shoe and clothing designer. For example, the jewelry he wears in the form of piercings on his nose and on his face. For example, the flow of hair. He looks like a geek out of a shampoo commercial that sheds light on fear.

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

Take it all, International Man has style, but he hits like an International-Harvester. He comes from a foreign land, has had a slow, different path to football, but loves the game as if he had an Orlando Pace poster on his wall as a child.

There’s something uniquely interesting about that.

It was in British GQ where a quote by fictional character Paddington Bear wearing glasses was published, which read: “In London, everyone is different and that means everyone can be. Fit.”

Bamidele Olaseni (pronounced bam-ih-Deli oh-lah-senny) fits there.

And he’s also a great fit for SLC.

Not bad for an individual who hasn’t played football until the age of 19. He learned the game, at least in front of the screen, playing the video game Madden – rest, John – video game. Soon after, he stepped onto the pitch, playing in the British entertainment league for a club team calling itself the London Blitz.

You can teach rudimentary soccer basics, even learning some of it in weird ways. No one can teach you to be the size of Big Ben, but for Olaseni, that’s not enough. In Utah, absorbing the nuances of pass blocking, with the necessary footwork and balance, is almost a sort of passive-aggressive mental immersion, some counterintuitive, and tackles Running, punching and knocking people down the field, takes a long time. He only emerged this season as a Division I star.

That was his intention ever since.

Having an older brother who plays Division I basketball in the United States, Olaseni also looks to America for his future. He came to Utah on a partial scholarship to Garden City Community College, located in a farming village in western Kansas, a proven site where dust billows over the hills and plains and mountains. gifted athletes and coaches will come to JC. Notable stars include Tyreek Hill, Corey Dillon, Tyler Rogers, Keith Smart, Gene Keady, Mark Fox and Brent Venables.

Add Bam, who became a rudimentary but promising all-American junior college just three years after entering the game, to the list now. He then went to Utes, was pursued by other top programs, and was immediately suspended by the NCAA for a mistake that Olaseni still did not understand. “I don’t know,” he said. “It was in the past.”

Whatever it is, it only slows him down temporarily. As he enters the Rose Bowl completing his college eligibility, with an upcoming showcase game East-West Shrine also in the plans, the 25-year-old will live up to his own expectations, coming close to this was named the All-Pac-12 second team for the Utes and was seen as a genuine professional prospect.

He is convinced of this: An NFL career awaits him.

Education was important to his parents and to him back in London, but now that Olaseni has seen his potential on the pitch, his focus has shifted to doing everything he has. possible, not only for his Utes teammates, but also to prepare for a lucrative future.

Providing for yourself and your family is always the goal.

“I will go wherever the opportunity arises,” he said.

Chances are what he sees inside the famous old site about to be occupied by thousands upon thousands of Utah fans in Pasadena. There many eyes will be on Utes – and Olaseni says that is the reward he and his teammates have been aiming for and have earned through a season of diligence. It was an opportunity to show, as the big man put it, “what we have been working on.”

And the “we” in his mind included more than just the Utes. Those are all footballers born and raised in other countries that love and are built to play American football.

“For me,” he said, “it was about creating an international path.”

Olaseni envisioned other athletes, from various places from north London to south Timbuktu, watching him compete under the bright lights of the Rose Bowl, and got the idea that they too could do it. Bam do.

“I miss being in London,” he said. “But I am out here doing something…”

He hesitated.

“…I came here for a reason and I will do it. I’m trying to set an example for the people back home, to show the kids that they can come here, work hard and be successful.”

Play the pure game of Bam Olaseni. From across the pond, Utah’s Big Bam Olaseni is now playing his ‘pure game’

Beth Allcock

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