Monday, May 2, 2011

Greg Mattison Probably Thinks You Look Like Ray Lewis

Greg Mattison giving Ray Lewis directions,
possibly to Five Guys Burgers and Fries.

You may have heard that Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison used to coach Ray Lewis.  This is particularly true if you are a high school football recruit who has had a conversation with Greg Mattison.  

When you've spent the last three seasons coaching a twelve-time pro-bowler and future hall-of-fame linebacker, it can be distinctive selling point on the recruiting trail.  This is a fact that hasn't escaped Mattison's notice.  Last Friday, Michigan picked up a commitment from Ohio linebacker Joe Bolden.  Bolden said this:
"We watched the Ravens film from last year," Joe recalled.  "Coach Mattison showed me where I was going to play in that defense.  He pointed to Ray Lewis."
Bolden isn't the only player hearing about his future as Ray Lewis 2.0.  From recent commit Royce Jenkins-Stone's twitter account:
Had a great day today visited @ and the Michigan Fam.  Say iam the next  Lewis.
Similarly, after joining the coaching staff in January, Mattison made a big impression on Colorado linebacker Leilon Willingham:
We got a chance to talk to all the coaches, and it was pretty cool to sit down with the defensive coordinator. Ray Lewis is my idol, so that was like a dream.
Antonio Poole, recruited
by Greg Mattison in January
Although Michigan narrowly missed on Willingham to the University of Central Florida, Mattison surprised many by reeling in a commitment from Antonio Poole, a highly coveted linebacker out of Ohio.  Poole pledged to Michigan just one day after Mattison drove to Cincinnati for an in-home visit.  While there, Mattison was able to sell Poole on his future with the University of Michigan.

It probably didn't hurt that Poole's favorite player happens to be Ray Lewis.

More Than a One-Trick Raven

Mattison may have developed a niche for recruiting an army of linebackers who sort of look like Ray Lewis, but his recruiting prowess doesn't end there.  Earlier this year, recently retired coach Urban Meyer remarked that Greg Mattison is "the best recruiter in the country," a statement cultivated from Meyer's first-hand experience with Mattison when the two coached together at the University of Florida.

You can stop wishing,
Tebow never dropped
the Coaches' Trophy.
Mattison proves that his reputation as a recruiter is well-earned; despite being a defensive coordinator, Mattison can recruit any position on the field.  While with the University of Florida, Mattison helped attract back-to-back recruiting classes ranked #1 and #2 in the nation.  The crowning achievement of those classes was a quarterback that Mattison himself helped recruit.  His name was Tim Tebow, and he turned out to be okay at football.

In addition to Tebow, Mattison drew commitments from seven other players regarded as four-stars or higher in just two years.  Perhaps more surprising, those players were recruited to play positions all over the field and on both sides of the football.

During a two year stint from 2006 through 2007, the following Florida recruits can be attributed, at least in part, to Greg Mattison:

  • Brandon Antwin  (4 star, DT)
  • Jamar Hornsby  (4 star, Athlete)
  • Brandon Rickerson  (4 star, DB)
  • Jacques Rickerson  (4 star, DB)
  • Tim Tebow  (5 star, QB)
  • Justin Williams  (4 star, WR)
  • Brandon Hicks  (4 star, LB)
  • Duke Lemmens  (3 star, DE)
  • Justin Trattou  (4 star, DE)
  • James Wilson  (5 star, OL)

A Change of Colors

Mattison has brought his esteemed talents to Ann Arbor, and in doing so demonstrated exactly what makes him such a good recruiter:  "Seriously, I love recruiting," Mattison said, "it's like going out and winning an arm-wrestling contest.  'I got ya!'"   After three years in the professional league, it's clear that Mattison hasn't lost his passion.

As in Florida, his efforts will not be limited to the defensive side of the ball.  At present, Mattison is pursuing star running back Bri'onte Dunn (among others) and attempting to spark an interest in the Wolverines.

Given his track record, Mattison certainly has a chance to sway Dunn from Ohio State, where he's currently committed.  Naturally, Jim Tressel will do everything in his power to retain the five-star player.

Between now and February however, Mattison will have every chance to test his arm strength.

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