"We went out to Palo Alto, took a tour and got the whole routine," Hegarty reported last week in an exclusive interview with TheBootleg.com "It was beautiful all day, for the tour, for our time with Coach Harbaugh. He was the one who made the official offer. Plus we spent time with the line coaches and were showed around by Mike Eubanks. It was pretty nice to go over film with the O-line coaches."
And like the recruits who came before him and the ones who will come after, Hegarty reports being blown away by his Stanford visit.
"It's one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen," he said. "Coming in on Palm Drive is just breathtaking, especially for your first time entering campus. It's beautiful. The people I talked to, everyone, was courteous, and I met a few of the ‘09 guys in for the summer and talked to them. It was all great, a great visit."
Of course, Stanford isn't the only college Hegarty has visited, and he has nice things to say about his other suitors as well.
"We took an unofficial to Arizona about a month ago and Tucson has a nice hometown feel," he said. "Same thing with Oregon. I was up there for a full-contact camp this summer for four or five days. I was out there checking out the facilities and doing the camp and everything. UNM, just coming up through high school, I've spent a lot of time there doing camps and stuff and know them a lot. They're nice and local."
Though Hegarty has lived in the Enchantment State for a dozen years, he is not a native. In fact, Matt moved to Aztec, N.M. from Denver at age five, following in the footsteps of his father, a financial advisor.
"My father runs his own small business and my oldest brother works with him, so I'm looking to study something with a finance or business degree and then try to fall in with him," the younger Hegarty said.
Despite just one school being his home state university, Hegarty reports maintaining regular contact with each of his suitors.
"At Stanford it's mostly Coach Anderson, a lot of email with him," he said. "But all the schools are pretty even, I'll talk to them once a week or every couple of weeks. There's not really one which calls out most."
Perhaps it's no surprise then that Hegarty has no favorite.
"I'd like to be able to throw a favorite out there, but it's still early on and I'm still looking at all the factors," he said. "I'm probably looking to commit at the end of this year. I'm not looking to drag it on and be real dramatic about it."
First, though, Hegarty will have to wait to see if more offers land at his door.
"The Vanderbilt OL coach had talked about an offer, but wants me to come out and take a visit first. Plus there are a few other schools. I'm just surprised I had this opportunity and am just trying to figure out the possibilities now and places I could go where I'd fit best."
The question of best fit is one at the forefront of many recruits' minds. Phrased differently, many future college stars speak of important factors they're looking for in an ideal college. Unprompted, Hegarty raised academics as such a consideration.
"Right now, it's kind of hard to say [what my major criteria are]," Hegarty said. "I have a 3.8 cumulative GPA [3.5 unweighted] and I don't want to say it's the be-all, end-all, academics, but schooling will have a big say in everything, and that's why Stanford is a great opportunity. Obviously its education is bar none. So I don't want to say it's all education or strength of the program, but it's still early, to be honest. This time last year, I was playing as a sophomore and had no idea where my career would lead. I thought I could play in college if I were lucky, so by the swing of things it came, and now I'm trying to figure which factors are most important in the long run."
When not helping Hegarty calculate his unweighted GPA, Card assistant Lance Anderson also helped Hegarty chart his academic path over the next two years.
"He said I was on a good path at the time and didn't see any problems," Hegarty reports. "We discussed times to take the SAT and ACT and talked about grades. He wanted to make sure I take AP classes this year and a couple more next year."
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Hegarty's Aztec High School, last year's state runners-up, struggled to a 1-3 start but are coming on strong, having won five straight to jump to 6-3 overall. The Tigers are averaging 39.2 points per game and rush for 208 yards per game on 7.2 yards per carry. Hegarty is modest, but his teammates attribute much of the team's success to their 6-foot-5, 255-pound lineman.
"What I was told, and kind of what some of the people on my team make jokes about, is that I'm outrunning the running backs downfield trying to make blocks," he said. "Most people are impressed with my agility, flexibility and ability to move around and not just be rolling around."
Despite his mobility, Hegarty reports no problems playing in a hit-them-in-the-mouth, power offense like Stanford employs.
"Really, I'd be fine with anything," he said. "We do a lot of smashmouth and also run out of the spread, so there's a pretty good balance with pass protection, and then two or three times a game, I get a good pull outside. I wouldn't mind being able to move, but that's not a deciding factor."
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