Low key but Cougs have true gem in Mattingly

EARLY VERBALS tend to be out of sight out of mind as the focus naturally tends to shift towards the next oral pledge. One four star gem who still shines just as brightly -- if not more so than when he tabbed WSU in August -- Spokane's Andy Mattingly. The future Cougar isn't shy, but he's soft spoken. On the field it's a different story. No matter what angle you view him from, Mattingly looks to be one of true gems of the Pac-10's 2006 recruiting class.

He could be a tight end, linebacker or safety at Washington State. And there's ample evidence to believe he could excel at any of those spots.

On the year for Mead, triple threat Andy Mattingly was the defensive enforcer, the offensive glue, the special teams spark. The Rock of the Year award winner for Mead, the 6-foot-4, 223 pound Mattingly, like all great players, raised his game when it mattered most -- after WSU verbal Skylar Jessen injured a hammy and also during Mead's playoff run.

In typical Mattingly fashion, he downplayed his contributions.

"I think the key was actually when Paul Senescall came back," said Mattingly. "He got hurt for a few weeks. He came back and we started to click again."

Both figure prominently in the Mead record book.

Mattingly leaves Mead as the school's second all-time leading tackler just behind friend and Idaho verbal Senescall, with 160 solo tackles among Mattingly's 231 career takedowns.

CAL HAS CONTINUED to reach out to Mattingly over the year, he last heard from them a couple weeks ago. But Mattingly has told them and anyone else who calls that he's a Coug.

"I'm going to WSU," said Mattingly.

And the recent official visit to Pullman, Mattingly said, only served to further strengthen the already strong bond between him and the Cougs.

STARTING EVERY GAME since his sophomore year, Mattingly has never missed a game to injury.

On the year, Mattingly racked up 70 tackles and snared five interceptions, forced a fumble and had two fumble recoveries. He took one of the interceptions back 54 yards for a score, plus a fumble recovery went 40 yards for another touchdown.

Offensively this season, Mattingly had 41 receptions for 631 yards and six touchdowns. On his career, he had 81 catches for 1,130 yards, second all time at Mead. He's also No. 2 all-time in career interceptions with nine. What he really likes to do, though, is return kicks.

At six foot-four, Mattingly probably won't be a Cougar return man but his senior season -- with most of the yardage coming early before teams decided to just start kicking it out of bounds -- he racked up 359 return yards on punts and kickoffs.

VERSATILE? HE LINED up all over the place this season, including at halfback, where he rushed 14 times for 106 yards in the playoffs. In the fourth quarter, trailing undefeated Southridge in the first round, Mead called Mattingly's number...as a passer. It was fourth and goal from the 10 yard line.

Taking the toss sweep, the primary was blanketed. Mattingly went through his reads and threw a bullet all the way back across the field. Touchdown. Four minutes later he went the more traditional route, catching a touchdown pass of his own.

ATHLETIC? MATTINGLY WAS walking the halls recently when the basketball coach implored him to return to the hoops squad. He'd planned on taking the year off after starting as a sophomore and junior to focus more on lifting and speed training. The lure of competition made for a powerful argument. His first action was this past weekend. Mattingly's game on the hardcourt, just like in football, is physical.

"I use all five of my fouls," Mattingly quipped.

Coming off the bench Friday, he played more minutes than one of the starters. Crashing the boards and swatting away shots, Mattingly, who can easily dunk with one hand, had a near two handed slam on a put back, but simply dropped it through the cylinder.

"I had never tried that before, not with two hands," laughed Mattingly. "Everyone was asking me why I didn't dunk it -- I was just surprised."

THOSE OUTSIDE OF SPOKANE who haven't had a chance to see Mattingly play football could be in for a surprise themselves over the next four or five(?) years -- depending on team needs and how fall camp goes, Mattingly might be too good to redshirt and keep off the field as a true freshman in '06.

His college potential has many across the Cougar Nation more than a little excited, although which side of the ball Mattingly will line up as a Cougar has yet to be determined.

Given the offensive prowess versus the devastating hits on defense, a few friendly, but intense debate sessions between coaches Robin Pflugrad (tight ends), Leon Burtnett (linebackers) and perhaps even secondary coach Ken Greene wouldn't be entirely unexpected between now and August.

WE'VE MENTIONED THE signature play before but it bears repeating. And Cougfan.com is working to get a clip of it up for our subscribers.

On one defensive hit this year, the collision was violent enough that the buttons on Mattingly's helmet had to be replaced after they, the ballcarrier, and another player on offense all went flying.

It took awhile, but the ballcarrier eventually came out of the game after getting to his feet.

But both opponents were slow to get up.

"I watched that one a few times," Mattingly says through a quiet smile. "That one was pretty sweet."

With more post season honors and accolades still to come, Mattingly's been named first team all league and first team all state by the Tacoma News Tribune.

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