USC’s Mike Matulis ready to make most of his final season

first_imgUSC offensive lineman Mike Matulis is ready to make his senior season his best.USC offensive lineman Mike Matulis is ready to make his senior season his best.COLUMBIA – It would be understandable if Mike Matulis opted to walk away from football after years of struggling with injuries.But the South Carolina offensive lineman, who recently earned his undergraduate degree, is returning as a fifth year senior next season and is hopeful it will be his best to date.“It’s been two or three years (since he played consistently),” said Matulis. “I played a little bit against Tennessee last year, but it’s very frustrating. I came here to play. I haven’t really gotten that chance, not because of athletic ability, but because of injuries. It’s just frustrating.”Matulis was slated to start at right guard last season after receiving rave reviews from USC run game coordinator/offensive line coach Shawn Elliott.But in the team’s final contact scrimmage before the start of the season, he injured his knee. He attempted to return mid-way through the season, but it was determined he needed surgery which knocked him out of action both for the remainder of the season and spring practice.He was red-shirted during the 2013 campaign as he recovered from shoulder surgery to repair an injury he suffered after starting five games at left guard and left tackle as a sophomore.The 6-foot-5, 293-pounder from Boynton Beach, Florida was named a Sporting News Freshman All-American following the 2011 season after starting at several line positions, with the most starts coming at left tackle.That will probably be his position in the fall as the Gamecocks are looking to replace three-year starter Corey Robinson, who was selected by the Detroit Lions in the 2015 NFL Draft.“In an ideal situation, somebody is going to write a book about him,” said Elliott during spring practice. “He’s going to come back and have a great year. He’s going to lead us to a championship. Everyone is going to say, ‘He was written off at some point.’ He had two shoulder surgeries, a torn ACL and he comes back his senior year and does something unbelievable. That’s the ideal scenario and situation for him. He’s going to work and push himself to give him every opportunity to make that happen. I’m not going to be the one to say it’s not; I’m going to back him and support him.”Matulis and fifth-year senior right tackle Brandon Shell enter the season as the Gamecocks’ top two linemen.While sitting out spring practice was difficult, he believes he managed to pick up the offense which he says isn’t very different than the 2014 version.“It’s hard,” Matulis said of understanding the offense while sitting out. “There is a lot of stuff going on. They have us kind of getting ready, working on the side. I actually did some rehab stuff, over there jogging so I missed a couple of things. But a lot came from the film room, going over plays and stuff like that.”The biggest difference on the offensive side of the football will be the change at quarterback where the team has had veteran leadership for several seasons.Matulis thinks the Gamecocks will be in better hands than many believe, however.“I think they know the importance of it,” he said of quarterbacks Connor Mitch, Perry Orth and Michael Scarnecchia. “They have been pushing each other and working hard. You can see it in the weight room. They come in for extra work.“I love blocking for all of them, whoever is behind me. That’s my job.”Matulis hopes to follow Robinson and fellow teammate A. J. Cann into the NFL next season with a solid senior campaign.Elliott is confident it is an achievable goal.“I think when we get on the field in August, he’ll be right there with us,” said Elliott. “There’s no doubt in my mind. Where do I see him? Right guard, left guard, left tackle, right tackle. He’s played everything but center and he’s played everything very well for us. Up until he got hurt last preseason, it was some of the best reps I have seen, and I was so fired up to see him. He’s always bounced back from every injury and I don’t see why this would be any different.”last_img

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