courtesy of USC sports information:
6-2, 220, Junior
Mountain View, Calif.
For most wide receivers, to be called a "possession guy" is usually a back-handed compliment. It generally means that you don't have a lot of speed. Truth be told, that is often the case. But it also can mean another thing, like being able to make the tough catch over the middle on third down.
This season, USC has such a player in wide receiver Grant Mattos. The sticky-fingered junior, who came to Troy from Foothill Junior College, has already made some big catches for the Trojans.
He caught five catches for 75 yards (both game highs) in his Trojan debut against San Jose State. Most of his receptions were difficult grabs that kept drives alive and helped USC to a 21-10 win.
Not bad for a country boy from Mountain View, Calif., who nobody wanted. No one, that is, except for USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow.
Chow traveled to Foothill this past spring to check out a quarterback and came away impressed with Mattos' abilities. As a sophomore at Foothill, Mattos caught 76 balls for 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns and was named to the JC Athletic Bureau's 2000 All-American first team. Yet no scholarship offers were forthcoming.
"I was amazed that people didn't go for him," said Chow, who loved Mattos' penchant for the tough catch and his knack for finding seams in defenses.
Not long after that, Mattos readily accepted a scholarship offer to play for the Trojans. Tentative plans to walk on at California were quickly scrapped. After so many years of hard work, he had finally arrived.
"I've always wanted to play receiver since I was a little kid," said Mattos. "In my mind, that was always my position. I've always worked hard at whatever I need to do to become a great receiver and I'm still working hard to improve."
Being from Northern California, the 6-2, 220-pound Mattos didn't always keep an eye on the Trojans growing up. In fact, the receiver he models himself after played for the Stanford Cardinal.
"I really like Ed McCaffrey," said Mattos. "He's the kind of receiver that I try to emulate.
"I always knew USC had great receivers and skill athletes. I just didn't follow them that much growing up."
Mattos has experienced a bit of a culture shock since coming to USC.
"I'm definitely a Northern California kind of guy," said Mattos. "The atmosphere is different down here. We live right down in the city at USC. I've always been used to non-city life, but I am liking this a lot."
Mattos likes to golf and fish whenever he gets a chance and even tries his hand at surfing once in a while.
"The beaches are much cleaner down here in Southern California," notes Mattos. "I'm only an okay surfer. I just like to try to stay active."
The usually laid-back Mattos admits to getting excited when playing in front of the Coliseum crowd.
"Coming out in the Coliseum against San Jose State was awesome," he said. "It's weird to prepare throughout the week and then go out there in front of all those people. It just gets you pumped up."
Indeed, Mattos sometimes sounds as if he still can't believe he's in the big time.
"It's just a great feeling," he said. "Being rejected by everyone makes me work all that much harder to try to establish myself."
He's already become one of Carson Palmer's favorite targets. So far this season, Mattos has eight catches for 84 yards.
"My goal is to do my best while I'm here and to hopefully keep playing after," he said. "If not, I'm majoring in business so we'll see where that takes me."
In the meantime, USC is in good hands with Grant Mattos.