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2013 Virginia Football Roster Profile: Jackson Matteo

Having already previewed four of the projected starting OLs, today take a look at the 5th. Walk-on redshirt freshman OC Jackson Matteo wears #67, so today is his day. He had a solid offer list, and was actually verballed to Temple before changing course and walking on at Virginia. Without a true center on the team, Matteo was able to win the starting gig during spring practice.


Position: OC
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 290
Hometown: Ashburn, Va
High School: Broad Run HS
Twitter: @Matteo_UVA

In a move that surprised even the closest followers of UVA football (such as yours truly), redshirt freshman walk-on Jackson Matteo was named as the starting OC at the end of spring practice. As a walk-on and a redshirt, he was a complete unknown to most of us. However, Matteo had a number of solid offers and had verballed to Temple before deciding to walk on at Virginia.

Matteo was a 2 star recruit on Rivals and Scout and 3 stars on ESPN. At 6'5" and 290 pounds, there is no doubt he has the size to play at this level. The more important questions are about his strength and his polish. When Matteo enrolled last year, he was just 275 pounds and needed to add muscle. He's added about 15 pounds to his frame (with room for more), but has he added enough raw strength? While he was a good, aggressive run blocker in HS, he needed work in pass protection. He plays a bit too high and gets off balance. Keep in mind that he played most OT in HS, so he's had to learn the nuances of playing on the inside as well.

One of the most important parts of playing OC is making line calls for the entire OL. This includes things like calling out blitzes, and altering individual duties based on defensive alignment. It is what makes playing OC, especially at the college level, difficult. Without a doubt, Matteo has the intelligence to handle the job. However, he lacks experience. Therefore, LG Luke Bowanko will almost definitely be making a lot of the line calls. This is especially true for blitzes and stunts, which defenses will try to hide. Bowanko's experience will help decipher these attacks, and will also help Matteo learn to recognize them.

There is, of course, a chance that Matteo simply isn't ready to start. He's just a redshirt freshman, and OLs often take a while to develop. If that is the case, Matteo will move back to the bench and somebody else will step in (Bowanko perhaps, with Conner Davis moving to LG). If that happens, hopefully Matteo uses it as a learning experience and continues to work on his play.

Hopefully, he works out from the start and has a strong season (and career) in the middle of the OL.