Falcone Crest

Matt Falcone beat the odds once to get on the football field with the Temple football team. This year, he is trying to do it again. Falcone, a fourth-year walk-on invited to play one day before his first training camp in 2009, is ready to contribute again after two ACL tears cost him his last two seasons.

Matt Falcone beat the odds once to get on the football field with the Temple football team.

This year, he is trying to do it again.

Falcone, a fourth-year walk-on invited to play one day before his first training camp in 2009, is ready to contribute again after two ACL tears cost him his last two seasons.

He tore his right ACL in training camp in 2010 and hurt the same knee again in practice before the Maryland game last season.

The versatile Falcone originally worked at quarterback when he came to Temple before moving to safety and is now at middle linebacker. A first-team all-state punter at Palmerton Area (Pa.) High School, Falcone tried to give the Owls some kicking depth last year but "my knee brace locked out at 10 degrees, so I couldn't do it."

The junior, though, knows his role will likely be on special teams, as it was after making the team as a true freshman.

"I played 7-10 reps every game and it was great being out there," said Falcone. "I had some unfortunate luck with the ACL the past few seasons, but I'm looking forward to getting back out.

"Special teams is my world. Coming in as a freshman, that was my ticket on the field."

After a year of rehab, Falcone felt like he was close to getting back on the field last year when he re-injured his right knee in practice in September. He said he knew what happened immediately when he felt the gut-wrenching pain and heard the pop.

"I was blocking on kickoff return and it turned wrong and tore," said Falcone. "I was basically in shock, a whole year of rehab to come back and do it again, I wasn't sure what was going to happen. The first week is the roughest mentally, but then you just have to get back into rehab training and get back.

"I feel strong now, I can cut a little better than last year."

Ironically, Falcone was roommates last year with Sean Boyle, who will be the Owls' starting center this year after missing the last two seasons because of shoulder surgeries.

"It really helped, we fed off each other in rehab, stayed positive and suppressed negativity," said Falcone.

Falcone was a preferred walk-on in 2009, receiving a call the night before training camp that another player had quit and he had a spot if he wanted it. He jumped at the chance.

"I got invited and it took off from there," said Falcone, who had been recruited by Ivy League schools but wasn't sure if he could handle the financial commitment. "Coming here was the best decision I ever made."

Because Falcone hasn't been able to play the last two years, he is still a walk-on paying his own way. He hopes to earn some playing time and the scholarship that could potentially come with it.

"I'm trying to fight through injuries and get on scholarship, trying to help out my family," said Falcone. "Everybody's having tough economic times. …I'm trying to do it for my family first and foremost."

Falcone feels his versatility has helped him play a role on the scout team when he's been healthy, though he also believes his current position, middle linebacker, is where he can be most productive.

"I played safety and linebacker in high school and I feel I need to be closer to the line of scrimmage, making as many plays as possible," said Falcone. "But playing safety and linebacker and even quarterback, seeing it from that side, I see how all the pieces work."

And in a program that has seen Mike Gerardi, Matt Brown and Stephen Johnson play significant roles after joining the team as walk-ons, Falcone believes he can eventually add his name to the list of players who went from walk-on to key contributor.

"Ryan (Alderman), Matt, Steve Johnson. … I idolize him," said Falcone. "We were both on special teams and the scout team my first year, and I saw him move up the ranks."

Falcone feels he will be at 100 percent when training camp begins and he hopes to put the two injuries behind him.

"It's going to be (difficult) out on the field to not think about it, but I understand it could happen to anybody and it was just bad luck for me," said Falcone. "I know my knee can be as strong, if not stronger than it was before."

Owls Daily Top Stories