Justin Falcinelli took a liking to Clemson a while ago, and the Tigers continued to recruit the Middletown (Md.) High offensive lineman until the tipping point came Monday.
That is when the 6-foot-5, 290-pound Falcinelli committed to the Tigers. He is the 14th member of the class, the teammate of Clemson defensive end target Ricky Leonard.
But unlike Leonard, a former lacrosse player who moved to the gridiron and found success, Falcinelli's recruitment has been quiet and plodding. He didn't do many interviews during the recruiting process, and wasn't a regular on the camp and combine circuit.
Still, Falcinelli is a very good offensive lineman, who rated the No. 22 guard in the 2014 class. But what exactly is Clemson getting in him? FOXSportsNEXT takes an in-depth look.
What to Like
Falcinelli plays physical and nasty, and that is a good thing. He is strong and once he gets on a block, he doesn't allow the defensive player to disengage and become involved in the play. He works hard to keep his pad level low and he continues to drive his legs, and he is relentless in finishing his blocks.
The first few plays of Falcinelli's junior high film (below) have him playing defensive end, and while it is clear that is not his future position, it does serve a purpose to show his explosion and strength on first contact when he is going against the offensive line. He pushes the offensive lineman backward and plays with a low pad level.
When it comes to the offensive side, there are a few plays that accentuate what Falcinelli does well.
The first play to focus on comes at the 1:38 mark. Falcinelli fires off the line of scrimmage well and remains low, albeit a bit off balance leaning forward, and he does a nice job of blocking down and burying the defensive tackle.
At the 2:08 mark, Falcinelli gets off well at the snap, engages the defensive lineman, keeps a strong base and drives his legs to overpower the defender and finish the block with a pancake. It is a similar outcome at the 3:25 mark when Falcinelli goes against a big defensive lineman. He wins the block with his initial punch, pushing the defensive lineman back before engaging him and driving him back.
Finally, at the 5:55 mark, Falcinelli shows his desire to finish a play strong despite losing his balance. He not only finds a way to make the block, but also doesn't let up and buries the defensive player.
What Needs Improving
Falcinelli is a very good player, but he needs to improve his athleticism and flexibility. He projects as a guard because he does not have the lateral movement to play on the edge, and his power is more suited to play on the interior of the offensive line. The flexibility will aid in his ability to win the leverage battle against equally strong defensive linemen in college.
Balance and patience are two other things Falcinelli must further develop. He has a tendency to reach, and lean forward, and that causes his to get off balance and he is forced to rely much more on his moxie and strength than technique to make the block.
At the 2:57 mark, Falcinelli gets to the second level to make the block, but it is not fluid and it is a bit of a struggle for him to get down the field. At the 4:05 mark, Falcinelli pulls but he is not fluid and it takes him a bit of time to get in position to make the block.
Finally, there are no pass protection plays on the tape, and the ratio of runs to pass for the offense is 4 to 1. In talking to coaches whose teams faced Falcinelli, he needs to become more comfortable in keeping his bases and with his kick-step as a pass protector.
Falcinelli plays left tackle, but he is rated more as a guard because protecting the edge could be an issue. He is powerful and tough, with are great starting points for an interior offensive lineman. He is the type of offensive lineman who will wear down a defensive line because his blocks are heavy and he is a physical player.
Scout's Take: Falcinelli
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