We broke down how the Clemson Tiger offensive line played a huge part in their dynasty dismantling of Alabama (check that out here). Now we’ll zoom out to take a look and appreciate the whole career of the starting center from that excellent OL.
Justin Falcinelli came to Clemson as a three-star recruit out of Maryland after choosing the Tigers over Maryland Terps and Stanford Cardinal. He redshirted his first year, then played sparingly over the next two (123, 174 snaps respectively). As a redshirt junior, he ascended to the starting center position with back-to-back All-ACC performer Jay Guillermo’s graduation. Many were concerned about how this transition would impact the O-line.
In his first season as the starter, he was an All-ACC performer himself. Clemson leaned on the run game and their offensive line and Falcinelli rose to the occasion as they finished 3rd in adjusted line yards. He played 932 snaps in a strong season, but one that ended with a thud as the offensive line struggled to keep Kelly Bryant upright or establish the run in a Sugar Bowl loss to Alabama.
Falcinelli came back even better in his final season. The Tigers offensive line was one of their more balanced units in memory. They paved the way on the ground when needed, such as in the fourth quarter against Syracuse. Look at Falcinelli pull and hold the running lane open for Feaster to get the first down:
Then in a perfect farewell they kept Trevor Lawrence upright all night as Saban’s defense failed to get a single sack and the Tigers scored 44 points. That’s going out in style! Kudos and thank you for an awesome Tiger career, Justin!