Reviewing the Redshirts is an off-season series meant to resurrect discussion around the current Irish freshmen who did not play in 2013.
There were 12 this year who retained a year of eligibility and today we take a look at one of the most forgotten prospects from the 2013 class.
DE, Jacob Matuska
Hometown: Columbus, Ohio
Height: 6-4 1/2
247Sports COMPOSITE RANKING:
3-star, No. 22 SDE, No. 24 OH, No. 373 USA, 0.8801 score
Need at Position: MILD
Expected Spot on the 2014 Depth Chart: 3rd String
Matuska was the lowest rated prospect from the last cycle according to our One Foot Down rankings. Here's what Jim Miesle had to say about him after National Signing Day:
As the others stated, Matuska is appears to be a giant question mark when trying to project his career. He definitely fits the "Big Skill" profile, so he may end up changing positions after a season or two like Troy Niklas did. This has been brought up a few times since NSD, but BK had a guy named JJ Watt at Central Michigan who played tight end. I think BK sees some similar traits in Matuska and will skip the offensive experiment. Given some time to develop and add weight, there is a lot of upside for fans to be excited about.
While Jim never passes up an opportunity to compare players of certain ethnicity to J.J. Watt, the questions surrounding Matuska playing tight end are likely over. He was roughly 240 pounds as a high school senior and came into fall camp last year already having packed on 35 pounds. Unless he becomes the first linemen of the Longo era to lose a significant amount of weight Matuska is going to be a 280+ pound redshirt freshman when he reports in August.
However, does Matuska play at defensive end or start to develop into an interior tackle?
I like him more as a prospect on the inside. I wasn't thrilled with his explosiveness and speed as a defender in high school, and although he has really long arms, his profile and ability to gain weight should fit well on the interior. This is assuming we'll see more 4-3 scheme in the future if not an outright switch in defense. He is a lankier and taller version of classmate Isaac Rochell so Matuska could easily fit in as a run-stopping defensive end in 3-4 looks.
I'm not sure how much playing time he'll get in 2014 even if there are some depth concerns up front. There are already 6 veterans (Utupo, Springmann, Hounshell, Day, Jones, Rochell) with playing time ahead of him on the depth chart and a couple freshmen (Trumbetti? Bonner?) could very well make a name for themselves this fall.
On the other hand, Matuska clearly isn't buried on the depth chart behind several All-American types so his effort to get some minutes could pay off with even just one injury. During the spring he looks to be in a battle with early entry Trumbetti for the last defensive end backup position so that will be fun to watch. Other possibilities for Matuska include Utupo not being a serious candidate and Hounshell unable to stay healthy. If those breaks come Jacob is right in the thick of things in 2014.