Finishing with the USC Trojans’ final National Signing day commitment, we come to tight end Josh Falo. Out of Inderkum High School in Sacramento, Falo was the 4th best tight end in the nation according to the 247Sports player rankings. Overall, Falo was rated as the 80th best player in the country and a solid four-star recruit.
At 6’5” 235 lbs., Falo has the prototypical size for a receiving tight end. He is still on the light and lanky side which will limit his playing time as a true tight end who blocks and receives, but his athleticism and height advantage over most defenders should allow him to stand out. In fact, Falo is a similar style of player to current Trojan Tyler Petite.
Petite and Falo are the exact same size and excel as route runners down the seam. Neither are very strong blockers, but their size and athleticism are elite, causing a constant mismatch for opposing secondaries. Unfortunately for Petite however, Falo has very strong hands and the ability to high-point the ball. Falo is unafraid to make contested grabs over the middle of the field which have proven to be an issue over the course of Petite’s short career in cardinal and gold. These struggles could allow Falo to overtake the soon-to-be junior on the depth chart next fall.
Luckily for Falo, the Trojans should be well-equipped to easily mask his deficiencies as a blocker over the course of his college career. Although skills in this area are important if he hopes to one day play on Sundays, Falo’s inability to make an impact in the running game should not be an issue for the Trojans. Returning second-half star Daniel Imatorbhebhe is a solid blocker and USC added the signature of three-star blocking tight end Erik Krommenhoek in the 2017 class. These two players should be able to capably fulfill the vast majority of blocking duties over the course of Falo’s USC career, thus limiting the exposure of Falo’s key weakness as a player.
This is not to say that Falo cannot become an all-around tight end over the next three to four seasons. Despite Petite’s struggles, he is still a solid receiving tight end who has simply had a slight case of “butterfingers.” Falo appears to be a very sure handed player who is not afraid to make catches in traffic, but overtaking a junior who has earned significant playing time in his first two seasons is no easy task. As a result, Falo could be allotted a full season to work on his blocking before being asked to play regular downs.
From technique to pure muscle, Falo has a lot to work on before the coaching staff will feel comfortable using him in running situations. The 2017 season could be the optimal time for Falo to put in the work in these areas so he can be fully prepared for closer to an every down role in 2018.
Earning Falo’s signature on Signing Day may not see immediate dividends in 2017 thanks to the depth USC has at tight end. However, Falo has the potential to be a leading receiver in a dynamic Trojans’ offense at some point in his career. A 6’5” tight end who can run and is unafraid of being physical is a truly rare combination. Luckily, USC was able to keep Falo away from the rest of the Pac-12 and earn the signature of a player who could become a difference maker in cardinal and gold.