Juliano Falaniko Signs with USC Football on Signing Day 2017
Perhaps the most intriguing player in USC’s 2017 recruiting class is in. Three-star linebacker Juliano Falaniko officially signed his letter of intent with the Trojans on Signing Day.
USC’s Polynesian pipeline just got that much stronger, with the signing of three-star linebacker Juliano Falaniko out of Leone High School in Pago Pago, American Samoa.
He verballed to the Trojans immediately after getting a scholarship offer in April 2016, and stuck with his commitment despite a late run from Oregon. The Ducks prioritized Falaniko after Willie Taggart was hired in December. But the linebacker’s final official visit wasn’t enough for the Ducks, as USC got the signature.
At 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, Falaniko is a slender linebacker with lots of room to grow. He’s ranked as the 21st inside linebacker in the 247Sports Composite, and the not surprisingly, the No. 1 player in his home country.
Falaniko is the second ever USC football player to be recruited directly out of an American Samoa high school, and the first since Travis Tofi in 2003. Titus Tuiasosopo hailed from American Samoa, but spent his senior season in 1989 at Banning High School.
Where He Fits
The linebacker position is a severe position of need for the Trojans, following the expulsions of Osa Masina and Don Hill, and the academic ineligibility of Olajuwon Tucker in 2016. Falaniko should help there, as he has the ability to play strongside outside linebacker behind incumbent starter Uchenna Nwosu. Currently, no one sits behind him.
MORE SIGNING DAY: Tracking All of USC’s Class of 2017 Signings
The concern for USC is that Falaniko is extremely raw, having grown up in American Samoa and not being exposed to a high level of football competition. Traditionally, he’d be a ripe redshirt candidate in 2017, but depth concerns could allow him to see the field earlier than expected like Jordan Iosefa last season.
High School Highlights
He Reminds Us Of…Mike Morgan
A tall, wiry linebacker thriving on the outside, Juliano Falaniko is a much more raw version of Mike Morgan. He’s at his best when he’s attacking off the edge, and isn’t afraid to unload a big hit or two. But he’ll need to grow into his body once he gets to USC.