Gem from Spokane is one of the best in West

ANDY MATTINGLY WON'T strap on a Cougar helmet for another six months, but he's already a believer in the power of crimson. In a phone conversation with a reporter one Saturday back in November – just before halftime of the WSU-Oregon game, to be precise – Mattingly showed his true colors when confronted with the suggestion that Hail Mary passes never work. Mattingly cautioned that you just never know. There was a brief pause as both parties turned attention to their respective TVs.

And then Alex Brink and Jason Hill worked a little bit of long-distance magic.

Touchdown Washington State!

Who'd have thunk it? Mattingly certainly did. In fact, that quiet sense of knowing firmly what you believe in seems to be a Mattingly hallmark. He committed verbally to WSU last summer and took only one official visit in the fall – to Pullman.

Like the Cougars, Oregon State and Boise State were in on Mattingly early. The Huskies came calling, too, but the Cougars were way ahead because Mattingly had camped at WSU in June.

While OSU generated some serious interest from him, he knew in his heart he was going to be a Cougar.

"I just felt right there," Mattingly said of WSU. "I felt so comfortable -- the coaches are just so cool down there. I loved it."

When it became clear early in the season that Mattingly was shaping up to be one of the state's true prep gems, the Cal Bears went to work on him. So did others.

But the 6-4, 223-pound uber-versatile athlete knows what he believes. In his unpretentious, matter-of-fact style, he simply offered up the facts to all of his would-be suitors: "I'm going to WSU."

IN THE PANTHEON OF coveted Cougar recruiting "gets" out of the Lilac City, Mattingly ranks right up there on the all-time list. While not on par with Mark Rypien, who is perhaps the most-hyped prep player from anywhere (let alone Spokane) to sign with the Cougs, Mattingly's pedigree is nonetheless elite. Put him at least on par with Ferris' Jeremey Williams, one of the state's five most coveted prospects in 1999, or Rogers' Larry Eilmes from the early 60s or even Lewis & Clark's legendary Bud Roffler from the late ‘40s.

Indeed, Mattingly is something special. He has size, agility and speed. He's never missed a game due to injury. He can dunk a basketball. He's played played linebacker, safety, tight end, receiver and was a return specialist.

He was a consensus All-State pick. The Seattle Times tabbed him as one of only four blue chippers in the state, along with O'Dea's Taylor Mays (headed to USC), Bellevue's Steve Schilling (Michigan) and Ferndale's Jake Locker (Washington). rates him one of the top 20 high school safety prospects in the nation --- though his destiny at WSU appears to be linebacker, or possibly tight end.

"Bottom line, this kid is one of the finest Division I prospects to come out of Spokane in the 20-plus years I've been coaching or broadcasting in the Greater Spokane League," says former WSU All-American Paul Sorensen. "As far as 2006 Pac-10 recruiting gems go, this guy belongs right up there -- the only question is where to play him. He can do everything."

MATTINGLY LEAVES MEAD as the school's second all-time leading tackler just behind Idaho-bound friend Paul Senescall. In three varsity seasons, Mattingly posted 160 solo tackles and 231 total takedowns.

This past season he registered 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, and one of the fumble recoveries 40 yards for another TD.

On offense this season, Mattingly caught 41 passes for 631 yards and six touchdowns. He also produced 359 return yards on punts and kickoffs. His 1,130 career receiving yards is No. 2 on Mead's all-time list, as is his nine career interceptions.

And talk about versatile. In the state playoffs he took some turns at halfback, rushing 14 times for 106 yards. And in the fourth quarter, trailing undefeated Southridge in the first round, Mattingly was called on to pass. But get this – it was fourth and goal from the 10 yard line. Taking the toss sweep, the primary receiver was blanketed. Mattingly went through his reads and threw a bullet all the way back across the field.


Four minutes later, Mr. Versatile caught a touchdown pass of his own.

Andy Mattingly profile

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