ALEX AKINGBULU: NFL DRAFT 2022Every year, there are a handful of prospects who force NFL decision-makers to do a deeper dive into their college film after putting together a strong senior season. Fresno State offensive tackle Alex Akingbulu is one of those players in the 2022 draft class. Akingbulu was nominated first-team All-Mountain West after starting all 13 games for the Bulldogs at right tackle. The 6-foot-6, 300-pound blocker helped propel an excellent Bulldogs offense that averaged 464 yards and 33.4 points per contest. Akingbulu recently spoke exclusively with The Draft Network about his decision to transfer from UCLA to Fresno State, how playing in the Bulldogs' offense helped prepare him for the next level, which offensive scheme he prefers to play in, debunking the "small school" narrative, and so much more. JM: You’ve had plenty of time to reflect on your decision to transfer from UCLA to Fresno State. How do you look back on that decision? AA: It’s crazy to think about. You can’t always see the bigger picture when you’re younger and going through certain trials and tribulations. You have to think beyond your current situation. You need to see the positive aspects. As a mature adult, I can look back and thank God for those decisions. I wouldn’t be here today if I didn’t make the decision to transfer to such a wonderful program that is Fresno State. They welcomed me with open arms and provided me with an excellent opportunity. My story would definitely be different. JM: Absolutely. You also utilized the additional year of eligibility granted by the NCAA due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You came back to school and played your best season in 2021. You made 13 starts at right tackle. That qualifies as another great decision you made for your career. AA: I was the most focused I’ve ever been this past season. I picked up a pen and paper and created a goals sheet for myself. I remember making a list of all the goals I wanted to achieve this year and one of the first things on that list was to start and play through every single game of the season. I did that to the tune of 13 games like you said. A lot of people probably had question marks surrounding my durability. I felt extremely healthy throughout the season thanks to our trainers and strength and conditioning staff. I was determined to show what I can do. JM: You did that. You started every game for an offense that scored 33 points per game and averaged 137 yards per contest. How did playing in that Fresno State offense help prepare you for the NFL? AA: We have a multiple offense. We ran some five-wide-receiver sets. We ran the spread and we can also run the ball at a high level as well. I feel like we had a future NFL quarterback under center. We had a ton of NFL-level talent all over the offense. They gave me an opportunity to be a leader. I soaked up that opportunity and tried to be another voice for our coaching staff. I made them proud. I’m thankful they put me in that position. JM: You also recently earned your Masters in education. Congratulations on that. Tell us a little about that and what you hope to do with it someday? AA: I graduated and received my Masters in Education. I then started my Masters and began earning my MBA in Business. I definitely want to be able to give back to my community with my background in education. I want to give back to the children. I definitely want to teach the kids. I see myself teaching kids about financial literacy post-football. That’s something I feel that’s lacking in African-American neighborhoods that struggle with lower incomes. With my MBA in Business that I’m currently pursuing, I hope to put my money in different places. I eventually want to start multiple businesses. I’m still figuring out which fields of business I want to get myself into. JM: We love how focused you are on your education. You played three seasons of basketball in high school. How did that experience help make you a better offensive lineman? AA: Basketball really shaped me athletically. It taught me how to have great feet. Having good feet might be the most important trait an offensive lineman can possess. You have to be able to change direction quickly, especially in a league that has so many athletic defensive linemen. NFL defenders can get upfield in a hurry. You need to be able to explode out of your stance as quickly as possible with great feet. I would say that basketball taught me a lot about control, balance, and feet. JM: That’s a great point. How would you describe your body type and how it best suits you at the offensive tackle position? AA: Some may describe my body type as slender but you can’t sleep on my power (laughs). I’m able to block in the running game at a high level. I can handle the bull rush in pass protection. I have the feet for the speedier guys as well. I see myself as a jack-of-all-trades. JM: Some people will label you as a “small-school prospect” throughout this process. How do you typically respond to that stereotype? AA: I feel like our track record speaks for itself at Fresno State. We played against some big schools, especially on the west coast. I honestly feel like we’re one of the best schools on the west coast. We played against big names. We beat UCLA last season. We played against Oregon and competed to the very end in a close ballgame. I don’t worry about the small school stuff. At the end of the day, football is football and the X’s and O’s are what they are. I’m just eager to play against different types of players from all over the country. I’m eager to flash my skill set. JM: That’s the best way to handle that. You talked about what scheme Fresno State ran on offense. Is there a scheme that fits you best at the next level? AA: I feel like I can play in any scheme. I’m just excited to receive an opportunity to showcase that throughout this process. I can really play in any scheme. I’m an excellent listener, learner, and communicator. I’m ready to adapt to whatever the coaching staff needs of me. I’m eager to learn and play in any scheme. I can take it all in and improve my game. JM: What’s your favorite aspect of playing on the offensive line? AA: I love physicality. Playing on the offensive line is a position that relies on you and your brothers. It takes all five guys on the offensive line. We all have to be in sync in order for there to be productivity. I love playing the game as physically as possible. I love going to war with my brothers. JM: I’ve really appreciated your time today, Alex. In closing, what kind of impact is Alex Akingbulu going to make at the next level? AA: I’m definitely going to make the biggest impact imaginable for my community. I wanna serve as an inspiration for Nigerians all over the world that dream about playing the game of football at the highest level. God has a plan for me.
- Aug 10, 2022
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