Falcone a member of Owl staff
special to the times news Palmerton High School graduate Matt Falcone (center of photo) watches Temple's pregame warmup during the season-opener at Notre Dame. Falcone is a student assistant coach with the Owls.
This fall, Matt Falcone is being exposed to a different side of football. Since his earliest playing days in Palmerton, Falcone has played and experience football as a player.
In high school, Falcone compiled a nearly perfect resume as a four-year letterwinner and two-year captain who became the first Blue Bomber to throw and rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season in his role as a quarterback. He also averaged more than 37 yards as a punter, a position in which he garnered first team All-State honors. Defensively, Falcone recorded 111 tackles at linebacker.
He was also a standout in the classroom as Falcone was a four-year honor student, served as vice president of the National Honor Society and class president, and named the 2008-09 National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame Lehigh Valley Chapter's Scholar-Athlete.
Falcone then turned his attention southward as he embarked on a four-year career at Temple University where he would play linebacker.
He played on the kickoff return unit as a true freshman in the fall of 2009 and earned a letter. With continued improved play late in his freshman year, Falcone apparently has reasons to be optimistic about his future.
But he soon discovered his future wouldn't be playing on a football field. In an uncanny series of events, Falcone suffered three consecutive ACL injuries in his right knee before the start of his sophomore, junior, and senior seasons at Temple.
Ironically, Falcone never had a knee injury in his career and all three happened in August on the brink of the season.
"When it (injury) happened the first time, I worked really hard to get back for my sophomore season," recalled Falcone. "It was really frustrating when it happened again the following year. It was really difficult to sit out my junior year.
"For whatever reason, I wasn't that frustrated when it happened again. I just knew that I wanted to somehow still be part of the team."
Falcone got his wish through an extenuated circumstance. When Matt Rhule took over as coach before the start of the season, he asked Falcone to remain with the program as a student assistant coach. Rhule worked under former head coach Al Golden, who was Falcone's head coach his first two seasons.
Falcone, who was a member of the president's honor roll for the past three years with a GPA of 3.5 or higher, changed his major from education to marketing and plans to graduate in January. Against Notre Dame in the season opener, he took the field for the first time in a different capacity.
"It certainly was a different experience than what I was used to," stated Falcone, who works with the defensive line and special teams as a coach. "It was a weird feeling stepping onto the field as a coach, but I was anxious to do it.
"It is such a different mindset. You get a different outlook and appreciate how coaches work to prepare players. As a player, you never really understand and know how they prepare until you experience it yourself."
Falcone noted how his role as a coach was nearly a seven-day-a-week job during the summer sessions between practices, meetings, and film sessions.
"There is very little free time between football and classes," he said. "It is definitely a change of pace from being a player. I can see how coaching can be a grind. You are exposed to different aspects of the game that you normally don't realize happen as a player."
Rhule believed Falcone would be a good addition to his staff.
"I know how hard Matt worked through his knee injuries," Rhule said. "He showed signs of being a good player his freshman year and he could have helped us. He has a good feel for the game and has the chance to be a good coach."
Falcone welcomed the opportunity to work with Rhule.
"(Rhule) helped me handle it well," said Falcone. "When coach Rhule came back, I spoke to him about staying with the program. He helped make the transition a lot smoother."
Falcone admittedly will debate whether coaching will be in his future as it is in his bloodlines. His father, Mike, had an extensive background in coaching with stints at Nazareth, Central Catholic, Palmerton, and Pleasant Valley.
Falcone also likely will stay in the Philadelphia area.
"My dad coached for a long time," he said. "With me, (coaching) is definitely a good possibility. It has been a good experience so far. I knew I wanted to stay with football and this is a good option.
"I would like to stay at Temple and I enjoy the Philadelphia area. I have to think about going back home. Whatever I decide to do after graduation, this will be a good experience for me."
It is an experience that will help Falcone look at life in a different perspective.