October 30, 2007

Catching up with Rios

If Special Teams play is the most underrated aspect of college football, then prospects that strictly play special teams are the absolute long-shots of the game. Although they play a pivotal role in whether a team wins or loses on nearly every level of the game, few special teamers ever obtain scholarship offers. That's why the story of Matt Rios is one of our all-time favorites.

You meet a number of prospects on the recruiting trail, and under the leadership of head coach Jeff Tedford, the University of California has recruited a number of extremely intelligent, committed, and talented prospects over the past half-dozen years. When you sit down with their families, put in the interview time at their respective homes or high schools, and talk in person before they even step on the Berkeley campus for a day of Summer Bridge, there's a certain personality that comes across. Whether you define it as a respect for the game or a keen sense of responsibility, it is an apparent trait in all Cal recruits. They understand family and being a teammate, and they clearly want to be Bears.

Rios is no exception. Despite the fact that he'll be strictly a long-snapper in college, handling the snaps for punts, point-after kicks, and field goal attempts, he'll be one of just a handful of special teamers in the Pac-10 to earn a scholarship in Div. I college football next season. In fact, he's one of just a few special teamers to earn a scholarship under Coach Tedford. But unlike a number of his 2008 classmates who could potentially redshirt, Rios will likely be an impact recruit, playing as a true freshman.

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