Tony Matteo, a tall, mobile center at Manchester High School in Ohio, had thought he would visit his final twosome of West Virginia and Pitt over consecutive weekends in July and August. The miniature Backyard Brawl for his services, however, turned into a major decision for the Mountaineers when he committed on Saturday.
Matteo was weighing the merits of both schools, and after favoring West Virginia early on, it seemed as if the Panthers had gained ground. However, his tour and trip to WVU capped the recruiting process and put him in the Mountaineer camp.
"Offensively, I just loved everything about it," the mobile lineman said of his West Virginia trip. "The coaches were great, and I got to meet Dana Holgorsen and Bill Bedenbaugh and talk to them a lot. The offense is a perfect fit for me. Coach Bedenbaugh and I watched tape of the offense, and I know I can pick it up quickly and help the team. It's everything that I want."
Matteo falls right in line with most of the offensive linemen West Virginia is targeting – tall, athletic players with good wingspans who can get out and engage defenders. Matteo is a bit out of the norm for a center, however. At six feet, five inches, he's taller than the typical snapper, but his height has never given him a problem, even though conventional wisdom says that centers should be shorter to combat low-slung nose guards and allow quarterbacks to see the field better.
"For me, it's just using my athleticism," he said of being a taller guy in the middle of the line. "I'm limber, and I'm quick off the ball, so it hasn't been a problem for me. I have played center for the last three years, and although it's a hard position to teach, the more you play it the more you learn how to do things and use your own abilities. You keep working and you end up being good at it. You have to do it naturally and not think about it."
For those worried that the Panthers might get back into the hunt, Matteo said that he will not take his visit to Pitt, and that he won't take any other official visits.
"I am done visiting. That was the plan – to make a decision before my senior year," he said. "Now that the decision is behind me, I want to concentrate on my senior season. I want to win a state championship. Personally, I want to just keep getting stronger and get ready for college. I'll work on my overall strength, and my legs, and my foot quickness."
Matteo was accompanied on his visit to West Virginia by his father, who emphatically supported his son's choice.
"My Dad loved it before he even came here," Matteo said with a laugh. "He has been a West Virginia fan from watching them on TV, so he is really excited and he supports me."
A potential sports management student, Matteo should have no trouble qualifying.