Bad history, bright future
Running back Lawrence Mattison signed with OSU Wednesday, had difficult journey to reach his goals
Published: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 7, 2013 05:02
“Frankly, it’s pretty callous-sounding, but the first thing that attracts you to these guys is talent,” said OSU head coach Mike Riley. “Then you’ve got to find out, ‘OK who is this guy?’”
Running backs coach Chris Brasfield, a native of San Antonio, immediately made a connection with Mattison.
Brasfield relayed Mattison’s story to Riley, but it was still a different feeling for the head coach when he met him in person.
“When I first met him, he just breaks your heart,” Riley said. “You can just tell … he wants to feel good about something, about what he’s going to do.”
Brasfield and Riley were both striving to get Mattison to Corvallis, because they saw him as someone who was “hungry.”
“When you don’t have some of the advantages sometimes, I think you go one of two ways,” Riley said. “You go to a different direction and try to do things the easy way, or you fight like heck to make it better. I think Chris got the sense early that this guy is going to try to make it better for himself.”
That thought rings true throughout Smithson Valley High, as well.
“I’m very proud to say that I was fortunate to get to know him,” Montelongo III said. “Because he’s a hero, in my book.”
Mattison has been living with his fiance, Brianna Johnson, for the last three months.
Everything seems to be in order.
With Oregon State looming closer, the 180 degree turnaround will be complete soon enough.
“He’s positioned himself to really go and better himself and make something, and I’m not just talking about on the football field,” Hill said.
There is a roadblock in the comeback: Mattison is still not academically eligible to be guaranteed to come to Oregon State in the fall.
Those setbacks in his early teens are still haunting Mattison.
“With his background, he was behind,” Hill said. “To try to catch up at a pretty high-achieving school like ours is a little overwhelming. He’s still got some work to do on that, but he’s made a lot of improvement.”
Riley and Brasfield are sold on Mattison and will go the extra mile to get him to Corvallis this fall.
“He has work to do academically, it’s not a finished story,” Riley said. “When I met the kid I told Chris, ‘We’re all in on this guy.’ We’ll wait for as long as we need to wait. We’ll help him any way we can. And we are the right place for him.”
Riley says his status will be determined over the next few months.
Moving to Oregon may be a daunting proposition for Mattison, who is accustomed to the southern U.S.
It wasn’t about where he was going though, it was about who he was playing for.
“It’s a big family atmosphere here,” Mattison said.
Mattison will be leaving Berry, who signed on Wednesday to play defensive end for Texas State.
“He will always my brother,” Berry said. “If he goes to Oregon and I don’t talk to him for the next 10 years, as soon as I see him again I just know it’ll go right back to where it was, back in high school.”
It was the unlikeliest of outcomes in a story that could have ended in a dark place for the lively running back.
Mattison is still in disbelief that he’s close to playing college football, and more importantly, that he feels like he’s in a good place.
“It’s crazy,” he said. “I never would’ve thought me. Never.”
Warner Strausbaugh, sports editor