Mattes says he was reluctant to move to the offensive line. "The first couple of practices of spring ball were so hard, I felt the world was spinning so fast that I couldn't keep up with it," said Mattes. "I had no idea what type of technique to use, I could hardly block anyone but things have started clicking a little bit more. I definitely have a long way to go especially on my technique work because, as our coach says, I feel you can never be too good at your technique."
Mattes says he's been learing everything he can from starting left tackle Jim Molinaro. Mattes had an outstanding day today in one-on-one drills and the first guy to congratulate him was Molinaro. "I have a good player in front of me to look up to. Jim (Molinaro) has been helping me out a lot but right now I try to use both my athletic ability and my feet that I have been blessed with and I'll just go from there. That's what I rely on most and I'll work on my technique every day and then hopefully put everything together."
The Irish coaching staff sees tremendous potential in Mattes and he's says he's working hard to reach that potential. "They tell me there is endless potential for me. It is awesome to have your coaches say that because they know what they are talking about--they are not going to lie to you. They just tell me to work hard on one thing every day and eventually it will all come together so you'll be the best player you can be. That's what I'm trying to do."
Mattes is listed as 266 in the Notre Dame media guide but he looks a lot bigger than that. "I've been putting on tons of weight. I was about 250 when I first got moved, in spring I was 266 and now I'm about 282. It's a lot of weight that I've gained but I still feel like I've kept my quickness."
The Irish will need a left tackle one Molinaro graduates next spring. Mattes is hoping he becomes that guy. "I think it comes together when you put all the tangibles together; the repetitions, getting your body the way it has to be, understanding the game more. When all three of them come together, that's when the light comes on. Hopefully that is going to happen real soon."
Mattes had never played offensive line in his football career before making the switch this spring. The idea of switching was hard to accept at first. "I am very happy about the move. At first I was little skeptical, I had never played offensive line before so I didn't know what it was going to be all about. Now that I've made the move and started to feel a lot more comfortable there I'm very happy with it."
When speaking with Mattes, one gets the sense that he's gaining a lot of confidence. Mattes didn't stop smiling the entire time we spoke to him. Mattes knows he's going to be a great offensive tackle--it's just a matter of the flipping that switch. Watching Mattes on the field this spring, we can see what everyone is excited about. This kid is tough, confident and moves better than Molinaro and Irish Eyes is very high on Molinaro.