It's easy to recognize why tight end Josh Falo is such a wanted target in the college football recruiting ranks. Physically, he aces the eyeball test at 6'5", 227 pounds, and as a flex tight end, he can be a matchup problem for defenders because of his size and pass-catching ability.
His offer list featuring 23 schools doesn't lie. His play at The Opening served as added proof.
Wednesday evening, the 4-star prospect from Sacramento, California, announced his top 10 via social media. The race for Falo will include the Pac-12, SEC, Big Ten and ACC.
In alphabetical order, Alabama, Auburn, Colorado, Michigan, Miami, Nebraska, Oregon, Texas A&M, UCLA and USC all made the cut. Of those 10 schools, only one—Auburn—is currently without a tight end commit.
Falo is ranked the nation's No. 4 tight end in the 2017 class, according to 247Sports' composite—and that's a list loaded with superb athletes at the position. Falo is the top-ranked uncommitted tight end for the class, and the race to get his verbal commitment and, ultimately, his national letter of intent will be a competitive one.
And rightfully so. Falo, who plays at Inderkum High School, put up impressive numbers despite having his team rush for nearly 5,000 yards last season. According to MaxPreps, Falo caught 11 passes for 275 yards and three touchdowns. In doing the math, he averaged 25 yards a catch and a touchdown better than every fourth catch.
Those are numbers any college program would want from their wide receiver, let alone their tight end.
Oregon, Alabama, Michigan and in-state school USC are four schools that seem to have an early lead in the race for Falo. He told Bleacher Report last month that distance isn't a factor in choosing a school, and he's not in a rush to make a decision.
"There are a lot of schools busting their butts to get me, and that means a lot to me," he said at The Opening. "But at some point, I know I'm going to have to cut it to just one school."
Falo only has one prediction on his 247Sports Crystal Ball, and that's to Oregon. Of the 10 schools, Oregon is one of two (the other being Colorado) with two tight end commitments in the 2017 class. Falo, however, would be the top-ranked player at the position at both schools if he chooses to attend. The Ducks are hoping he is up for competing for playing time against the others at his position.
One school to keep a close watch on is Michigan. Back in June, Falo attended Michigan's satellite camp in Sacramento, choosing to watch from the sidelines rather than participate. He expressed his appreciation for head coach Jim Harbaugh and how the Wolverines used their tight end. Jake Butt is one of the premier names among college football tight ends today.
Additionally, Falo had a chance to bond with several Michigan commits at The Opening, playing for Hypercool in seven-on-seven play. The team included quarterback commit Dylan McCaffrey, linebacker pledge Josh Ross, running back pledge O'Maury Samuels, athlete commit A.J. Dillon and cornerback commit Benjamin St-Juste. Hypercool also had several priority Michigan targets.
And then there's Alabama, the reigning national champion. Falo is well aware of the breakout performance of O.J. Howard in the Crimson Tide's championship run, and he can be an answer when Howard's time in Tuscaloosa comes to a close. Falo worked out for Alabama last month and earned a scholarship offer.
The Crimson Tide have 21 commits, and 15 are rated either as 5-star or 4-star players. Kedrick James is a 3-star commit who, at 6'4 ½", 245 pounds, could complement Falo's flex skills as a blocking tight end.
Both USC and UCLA are hoping to keep Falo in the state. UCLA commit Jimmy Jaggers (6'4", 244 lbs) and USC commit Erik Krommenhoek (6'5 ½", 243 lbs) are bigger tight ends who can benefit from being blockers, as well as pass-catching options. Falo is better suited to spread the field and serve almost as another wide receiver.
There's plenty of time for Falo to make a final decision, which also means there's plenty of time for the 10 programs to further sell themselves. Look for the race for Falo to be a tight one, and look for the winning school to score big when he announces his verbal commitment.