Senior Sitdown with Matt Traverso

Next in our series of Stanford senior interviews is Matt Traverso, who has not played since the San Jose State game in early September. The fifth-year senior tight end has been the source of much speculation: was he hurt or was he in the doghouse? Traverso has endured two injuries but also come to better terms of late with Walt Harris. Now there is the possibility of a sixth year, as he discusses.

How is your shoulder after the surgery?

"It's doing really well.  I've been doing rehab three times a week.  I have all my motion back, and the pain is subsiding."

Can you walk us through what happened and ultimately what required surgery for your shoulder?

"Yeah, it was basically last year.  I played all of last year with a tear in my left shoulder.  I had surgery done after the season last year, and with some of the things in the off-season and during the season, there was wear and tear on it.  I got hit awkwardly one week - in my labrum, cartilage broke apart.  They went in there and cleaned it out again."

At the beginning of the year, you were pretty optimistic.  This year hasn't turned out at all like you hoped, has it?

"I guess not, but you think about how we have been able to adapt well.  I have different position on the team right now.  I'm mentoring the young guys, and I've taken that responsibility and run with it.  I really enjoy working with those guys every day, and it's been kind of fun to mentor them and see them grow."

You have so much experience.  Erik Lorig and James Dray are both so young and inexperienced.  Is it funny for you sometimes?

"It's funny.  They haven't been through as much as I have been through, as far as the winning and the losing, the coaching changes and playing the position.  They're very young.  They don't know the things that I know.  They haven't had the coaching that I have had.  It's nice to be able to give them pointers on stuff every day."

You talk about taking a different position on the team and being a mentor.  Is that the last position that you will have at Stanford, or do you have any hopes or chances for a sixth year?

"The sixth year is pretty much out of my hands.  I write a written statement, and then the NCAA figures that out.  I don't know what the possibility is, but it's something that we're looking into and I'm very interested in."

For those people who know the rules well enough, do they see enough medical evidence from this year and your freshman year [high ankle sprain after two games] that they think you have a decent case?

"I think so, as far as what I have talked with the coaches and the people in compliance.  They say I have as good a shot as anyone to get a sixth year."

What motivation would you have to come back here and play?

"I love Stanford.  It's been my home for five years, and I bleed Cardinal.  Anything I can do to help out this program would be a goal of mine."

So it's definite that if you were to receive the opportunity for a sixth year that you would elect to take that here?

"I think so, yeah.  I wouldn't say it's definite, but it's a possibility and a probability."

What role would you play on this team next year?  You're mentoring the young guys, and they played a lot this year.  How would you fit in, and have you talked with the coaches about that?

"I haven't really talked to them that much about that.  My goal is always to start and play as much as possible.  If that's what they have in mind for me, that's great.  If not, then I'll do whatever they want me to do."

Walt Harris has talked about you guys having a couple meetings.  Do you feel like you two are on a good foot right now."

"Definitely.  We're definitely on the right foot.  We both want what's best for the team."

Michael Okwo and Walt Harris both said that after their meeting, it helped clear the air and improved their communication.  Is it similar for you, with things that needed to be talked through and are better because of the meeting?

"I definitely think that once we met for the first time, there was a lot of clarity between me and him.  Since then, we've had a really good relationship.  We joke out at practice.  We coach together; he asked me to help out.  It's been fun the last couple weeks just being able to coach the guys and joke around with the coaches."

Coach together?  So you're Coach Traverso now?

"Yeah, well, the young guys call me 'Coach T.'"

What is your prognosis for recovery?  Whether you're training for the NFL Draft or back here preparing for a sixth year, how soon are you going to start doing some football activity?

"I'm not sure.  I hope when I get back from Christmas break, or wherever I am after Christmas break, I'll be able to start doing a lot of heavy stuff again.  This is my second injury on that shoulder, so I'm having a lot of precautions.  I really responded well to this surgery.  Last time, I was in a sling for two weeks and wasn't able to do anything for over a month.  Now, I'm already starting to do stuff."

Aside from the shoulder injury, didn't you have something else?

"I had an inflamed pubic bone for a while, but that's something where I practiced with it for a few weeks.  It went away.  I was on anti-inflammatories and getting rehab on that."


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