Where Are They Now?: Tim Mattran

From walk-on to the St. Louis Rams, center Tim Mattran has shown what hard work and a little perserverance can do. Mattran was at Stanford for six years thanks to a string of injuries and a redshirt season. While it was not always filled with wins, Mattran left the farm with a huge upset over the Trojans, and the Axe on his back.

Since leaving Stanford he has tried out with the Minnesota Vikings and the Jacksonville Jaguars, spending some time on their practice rosters. Now you can see Tim playing center for the Rams in the second half of preseason games as he tries to earn a place on the roster.

I caught up with Tim last week between games one and two of the preseason schedule to talk about life now in St. Louis, and life back then on The Farm:

Q: You won game one of the preseason, you played in the fourth quarter, how was that?
It was good. It was good to get back into game action after hitting each other in camp for a couple of weeks. It is always great to get a win as a team. As the coaches preach here, it is hard to win one in this league, preseason, regular season, whatever so it is great when you do get one.

Q: How did you feel about your play?
There are always things you can improve on. We had a chance to watch film today. There are some good things. There are some things I need to clean up. The important thing is the next time you are on those plays you fix them. But overall I thought it was a great performance from the team. We gutted it out and got the win which again is the most important thing.

Q: Looking ahead, do you feel your odds are good to make the team? Where do you stand?
There is still a lot of ball to play in camp. Right now I think I have just as good a chance as anyone else on the team to stick around. The important thing is to keep working my butt off and we'll see what happens after these next couple of preseason games and then we'll see where we are at.

Q: Since leaving Stanford you have travelled around a little bit, Minnesota, Jacksonville, now St. Louis…
Yep, coast to coast.

Q: What have you learned in your NFL travels?
Everywhere I have been everybody runs the same stuff. Luckily the systems in Minnesota and St. Louis are similar. They have similar coaching trees as to where we get that stuff, and very similar to what we ran in Coach Harbaugh's first year out at Stanford. So that has given me a leg up. The biggest thing is identifying the defense. They are so exotic in this league and everyone is putting in so much time into getting to the quarterback and how to get to that quarterback as fast as possible. You see some crazy stuff.

Q: You must be living a dream in some ways. You start as a walk-on at Stanford and here you are in the NFL, what has it been like?
I think about that a lot. Sometimes you just have to stop and realize how lucky I am just to get to where I am at right now. There is always a push to want more. Now I want to make a team, I want to be a starter, I want to be a long-time player in this league, but sometimes you have to step back and appreciate where you come from. That has been nice in my situation, I am proud of where I am right now but I still have a lot of football to play.

Q: Let's talk about where you came from. Going back you had six years on the Farm, give me some of the highlights, some of the memories for you, specific plays, games, what do you remember most?
The first big moment was definitely when Coach [Buddy] Teevens put me on scholarship at the end of my first year. That was a big one. Realizing that I was going to be able to contribute to that team

Q: How did that go? Did he call you into the office? How did you find out?
The first time he mentioned it was when we had our end of season meetings at the end of my first year. The first time I caught wind of it was when we had our position meetings. Coach Morton told me he was going to recommend me for scholarship. A couple of days later in a meeting, Coach Teevens said as soon as one becomes available I am going to put you on. We had a couple of guys leave early that year so it was a great situation for me to fall into. That spring, after the first week of spring ball, I had a folder in my locker. I signed the papers and got my tuition check back which was a nice feeling.
Another big moment, the first time I got into a game. We were up in Autzen Stadium in the 2003 season. And after a year of being injured and redshirting, just to be back out and playing in a game again was an absolute rush. If there was ever a college stadium to start your career at, Autzen is a pretty fun one.

Q: They get wild and crazy up there.
Oh yeah, that place was rocking too.

Q: How much did you play that first game and what position?
I was playing center. It was the end of the game. I want to say it was two or three series in the fourth quarter. What a rush. It was awesome to get out there with guys that I had been getting to know that year. We had seven that had come in together that year, so getting out there and playing some ball together.

Q: I do believe you were our starting center down at USC a couple of years ago?
I was just going to get to that. That was definitely a crowning jewel on my career at Stanford. Something I will always look back and be proud of. My girlfriend at the time, now wife, printed out some pictures from the game that are still hanging on the wall in our apartment in St. Louis.

Q: What were your feelings on that final pass to Bradford? What were you doing and at what point did you know it was a touchdown?
We had run the same play a couple of times on that drive. It was actually the same play we had run the play before. It was a full five protection. I was expecting those guys to come tearing off the ball to try and keep the play from happening. They took a couple of steps, tried to jump tried to knock the ball down, I saw the ball go up, I saw Mark jump and I just knew as soon as he went up that he's got it, he's got it. Then the place just went silent except for the 11 of us on the field and our teammates on the sideline going crazy and all you could hear in that whole stadium, it was just a great feeling.

Q: Is there anything louder than 70K people stunned in silence except for about 80 guys on the field celebrating?
I have never heard anything like that since then, so I doubt it.

Q: When you look back at your time at Stanford, it was sort of a tough run at the beginning and then being there for the first year of Harbaugh and the first year of the turnaround. What are your overall thoughts of your time with Stanford football experience?
You cannot top the Stanford experience. Football, no football, there is no better place in the country. Sure we did not win as many games as maybe we were expecting when my class came in, but I think the program is in a better place then when we came in. If you can say that then I think you can say you had a successful career as a class. Coaching changes, recruiting classes of course all go into that, but I think over the course of my career, I got to see Stanford football at the lowest it has been in awhile but also see it on the rise. I can't wait to see what those guys get done out there this year. I think they are really going to surprise some people out there.

Q: How much do you follow the program now?
I follow it as close as I can. They like to keep us pretty busy this time of year. So tune in for the tidbits when I can. I follow a couple of the guys on Twitter. I check The Bootleg when I can and the official website. Just to see what is going on.

Q: Do you still have many friends on the team or on the staff?
I have not talked to those guys in awhile. I got a text from Chris Marinelli a couple of weeks ago. I have not kept in touch with those guys as much as I'd like to, but I think they understand I have business to attend to and I know they do as well. I just wish them well. I hope they know that.

Q: Hopefully you have the beginning of a 10-year NFL career here, but whenever it does come to an end have you thought about the next step or are you just taking it one step at a time?
I feel like if you put too much thought into what the next step is, you ignore putting your full energy into what is at my feet right now. Every now and then when we have a break during the summer after OTA's before camp, I had a little change to think about what might be the next step, but right now the focus is all about playing football and trying to make this team.

Q: What is a preseason road trip like in the NFL vs. a road trip in college?
We were well prepared for what travel in the NFL would be like with the Stanford crew. It is a business trip approach and that is what we had at Stanford and that is what it is like here. The only difference is we get a per diem when we get off the plane for dinner instead of the team meal.

Q: You have to take care of yourself but they take care of yourself to do that?

Q: Any other Stanford memories you want to share?
The last one is definitely going out with the Axe! That is definitely something I had heard a lot about as a freshman. That was definitely a big disappointment for the outgoing seniors that had had the Axe until that last game. The fact that we got it back in my last game was a really special thing.

Q: What was that like? That really culminated a really special year. Record-wise it was 4-8 but the win over USC and then beating Cal, that was a huge night in Palo Alto. What did it feel like when a game came to an end?
It was a culmination of that whole span of six years of my career. That rivalry was so one-sided for most of it. I finally got a chance to be on the other side. The bittersweet thing about it for me was that my brothers that I came in with didn't get to be on the field for that victory along with me. But most of them came out and jump the fence at the end of the game so I got a chance to live it up with them as well.

Q: You came a long way, you fought through injuries, six years, you were a walk on, now in the NFL, you are awfully young to look back but it has to feel good right now.
Absolutely. If nothing else I will have a bunch of fun stories to tell my kids some day.

For more Stanford football from Dave Fowkes, you can visit the Stanford Football Examiner at www.stanfordfootballreport.com.

Dave Fowkes is a longtime Stanford Cardinal fan. Born at Stanford hospital and raised on the Peninsula, he has been a football season ticket holder since 1981. In that span he has only missed three home games, but of course never a Big Game. Dave currently works in media both on the air and behind the scenes in advertising sales. He has covered sports on and off since 1992. Currently he works as a traffic, news and sports man on several Bay Area radio stations under a few different on-air aliases. Dave blends the passion of being a fan with the perspective of being a reporter in his stories. For more Stanford football coverage by Dave you can read the Stanford Football Examiner at www.stanfordfootballreport.com

Are you fully subscribed to The Bootleg? If not, then you are missing out on all the top Cardinal coverage we provide daily on our award-winning website. Sign up today for the biggest and best in Stanford sports coverage with TheBootleg.com (sign-up)!

The Bootleg Top Stories