Justin Falcinelli is doing his best to stay off the radar.
As Clemson’s new center, Falcinelli has perhaps the toughest job on the offense. Not only does he have to help the quarterback with alignments, assignments and recognizing the defensive formations, but he also has to snap the football, which is not as easy as some people think.
“I’m good so far. I have not had a bad one yet,” the graduate student said. “No one has yelled at me yet. I’m off the radar. I’m good.”
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney confirmed Falcinelli’s statement.
“I have not even noticed him, which is beautiful,” Swinney said. “It’s like the long snapper. If you notice them, it is not good. Falci has done a good job. He is a veteran guy. He has been around, he is smart.”
Actually, he is one of the smartest guys on the team. Though he is listed as redshirt junior, the Middletown, Md., native, is already working on his MBA. Offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell called him the smartest guy on the team, saying he is one of those young men that can take a computer apart and then put right back together without even thinking.
Swinney says he is mature beyond his years and has put in his time.
“It’s just fun to see guys step into that role and see the change in their demeanor, where they just know. ‘Hey! I have been working for three years and this is my time,’” the Tigers’ head coach said. “(Jay) Guillermo is gone and you know this is your time to lead. He has taken advantage of it. I’m proud of him.”
However, Falcinelli knows he has some big shoes to fill with Guillermo now graduated. Guillermo was a two-time All-ACC center and played a big role in why the Tigers became one of the best teams in college football the last two seasons.
“There is definitely a lot more pressure because I’m the new guy and I have to perform,” Falcinelli said.
The 6-5, 315-pound center says he still stays in touch with Guillermo.
“We still text, Snapchat and all of that,” he said. “He is still one of our good friends and all of that. He is all a part of this.”
And Guillermo is also there for Falcinelli whenever he needs him.
“Anytime I need him, he will be there for me,” the center said.
One of the more difficult tasks at replacing Guillermo is his leadership skills. The former center had no issues challenging one of his teammates when they needed to be challenged. He was one of those guys that were always heard.
“Gage (Cervenka) is a pretty vocal guy,” Falcinelli said. “Mitch can get after you. I’m trying to do my part. I’m not very vocal, but I’m trying to work on it.”
As the new starter on an offensive line that returns four from last year’s team, Falcinelli says he does not feel like a new guy because he has worked closely with Mitch Hyatt, Taylor Hearn, Tyrone Crowder and Sean Pollard the last few years.
“I came in with Taylor so we played next to each other the whole year our freshman year. I have played with Maverick (Morris), Tyrone, Sean and Mitch so I have spent time playing with all of them since I have been here.”
The one thing all of those guys have in common with Falcinelli is they have all found ways to stay off the radar. Plus, when they got their opportunities, they did not let it go either.
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