Jersey LB begins Rutgers visit

On the last weekend of official visits before signing day, a linebacker from North Jersey is tripping to Rutgers. He averaged 17 tackles per game as a senior, and is getting more interest after the late circulation of his senior highlight tape. Is a scholarship offer in his future at Rutgers? And what connection does he already have to the Scarlet Knights?

Lodi (N.J.) High middle linebacker Joe Falato's senior highlight tape is just beginning to circulate, and not surprisingly his phone is starting to ring a bit more.

Mostly, Football Championship Subdivision teams are calling, but Rutgers and Wake Forest each reached out to him.

Falato began his official visit to Rutgers today, and most of the talk has centered on being a preferred walk-on, which at Rutgers is no small thing. Falato added there is a chance to get financial assistance on the academic side.

"I'll probably find out all this stuff (Friday),'' Falato said. "They were going to see what they could do this weekend.''

Pro Bowl center Shaun O'Hara of the New York Giants and middle linebacker Gary Brackett, who is playing for his second Super Bowl title with the Indianapolis Colts, are two players who entered Rutgers as walk-ons and went on the stardom.

The 6-foot-3, 230 pound Falato played middle linebacker for Lodi, and averaged 17 tackles per game. He also intercepted four passes, and apparently caught the eye of Rutgers coach Greg Schiano early in the season.

Falato said Schiano attended the Lodi vs. Paramus in early October.

"He likes that I'm a tough kid, and he thinks I have the potential to be a good defensive lineman in college,'' Falato said. "I think I'm a tough kid. My reads help me a lot. I feel like my game speed is faster than what my 40 (time) may be.''

Falato was offered a scholarship by former Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe, but the scholarship offer doesn't appear to still be available under new coach Charlie Strong.

"Wake Forest called (Wednesday) and James Madison offered me. Southern Connecticut offered …and I think Rhode Island may offer,'' Falato said. "A lot of schools are starting to call now because I finally got my tape up. I know it's kind of late, but the coaches finally gave me all the tape.''

Rutgers has talked to Falato about playing a hybrid role as a linebacker/defensive end, and he is familiar with the program. He has many friends who attend Rutgers, including sophomore-to-be linebacker Steven Beauharnais.

"We talk and he tells me about the school,'' Falato said. "I was actually talking to him (Thursday) and I told him, hopefully, he'll be down there (Friday) to show me around and see things.''

Right now Falato does have a favorite.

"Most likely Rutgers, because it's close enough, and I could come home every weekend, or whatever,'' he said. "My family could come to every one of my games down there.''

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