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Tracking the Stars of the Future

Football Recruiting Report
Tuesday, July 3, 2012

By Sammy Batten

Genes blessed Matau with total package

All-Mideastern 4-A lineman grooming for center position


By Sammy Batten
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A brother from the Matau family has appeared in the starting lineup for the New Bern Bears for seven straight seasons.

Oldest brother, Ben, was a 6-foot, 245-pound two-way lineman who was part of New Bern's 2007 state 4-AA championship team as a sophomore. Ben Matau made up for a lack of size by working hard and playing smart, according to Coach Bobby Curlings.

Middle brother, Jonathan, was a physical, tenacious, intense player who earned first-team All-Mideastern 4-A Conference honors as a senior in 2010 at linebacker.

Christian Matau is the youngest of the Matau siblings, who seems to have inherited the best football qualities of both his brothers.

“Christian has got the height, he's the got the aggressiveness and he's a student of the game,'' Curlings said. “He's got it all.''

Those are just some of the reasons East Carolina extended a scholarship offer to the 6-foot-3, 315-pound offensive lineman June 3. Matau officially accepted the offer June 21 while on the ECU campus for an unofficial visit.

The Pirates were the first major program to offer Matau, but it wouldn't have mattered if he'd had a dozen other options. Having grown up so close to Greenville and attended ECU football games since childhood, Matau didn't have to think much about the decision.

“It's only 45 minutes away from where I live, so that really helped me a lot in my decision,'' Matau said. “Our family is very close.''

Close, indeed, and talented when it comes to football.

The Mataus' father was a high school quarterback, while first cousin Fou Fonoti will be entering his second season as Michigan State's starting right tackle in 2012.

Christian fell into the family tradition naturally due to the influence of his older brothers and an early growth spurt.

“My brothers were real tough on me,'' Christian said. “They made me go to the weight room and lift with them, even though I wasn't as strong as they were. They made me work on my technique and they were always on me about playing to the whistle. All those things have helped me become the player I am now.''

Matau has been a member of the New Bern varsity since his sophomore season. He started the last two years at left offensive tackle, earning first-team All-Mideastern 4-A Conference and All-Area honors from the New Bern Sun Journal in 2011.

Curlings began transitioning Matau to the center position during the off season.

“Christian is a natural fit (for center),'' Curlings said. “Just about every week we see teams do one thing on film. But it never fails they change something about their defense for us to stop our option game. It takes somebody who understands the mental aspects of our offense to make the right pass protection or blocking calls when we have to adjust in those situations. Christian has that kind of knowledge of the game.''

Curlings said Matau, who has been recruited by ECU to play center, impressed recruiters with his relentless attitude.

“A lot of times in the triple option offense the tackles have to get to the next level and block linebackers,'' Curlings said. “He made several plays last season where he got on the middle linebacker. But what they (recruiters) also liked is the way he gets after it downfield. On a lot of screen passes, he's 20 yards down field blocking a safety. So he's not just about moving the pile at the line of scrimmage.''

Securing help at center was one of the needs for ECU in its recruiting Class of 2013. Injuries have resulted in six different players making starts at center for the Pirates over the last two seasons.

One of the three who started games last season will be back next fall, but Josh Clark will be entering his senior year. Sophomore Taylor Hudson ended spring practice at No. 1 on the depth chart at center with redshirt freshman walk-on C.J. Struyk holding down the backup spot.

The Pirates worked Matau out as a center during summer camp.

“They showed me their depth chart (at center) and it looked like I'd have a pretty good chance to play right away, or learn a little and then start playing,'' Matau said. “Looking at that really intrigued me. Their offense is pretty similar to ours (at New Bern). They are in the shot gun a lot, so I don't think that will be a huge adjustment for me.''

Matau can now turn his attention to helping New Bern pursue another state championship.

“My relationship is strong with East Carolina, so I don't think I'll be making anymore visits,'' he said. “I'm going to be a Pirate.''

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07/02/2012 08:37:11 PM


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