Junior linebacker Dan Mastromatteo had a big-time junior season at Absecon (N.J.) Holy Spirit, but he was overshadowed by a senior teammate whose name was regularly in the headlines.
Linebacker Anthony Sarao received more attention than any other Holy Spirit prospect last fall and rightfully so. The senior was a four-star prospect according to Rivals.com and he recently signed with Southern Cal.
With Sarao departing, Mastromatteo is poised to step into the spotlight and make a name for himself. He will have to carry much more of a load with a talent like Sarao no longer near him playing linebacker as well, but Mastromatteo is up to the task.
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"Rutgers (verbally) offered me December 23," he recalled. "I talked to them like a week before that and they said they really liked my film. Then they just offered me.
"I went up for the junior day and that was really good, just talking to coach (Greg) Schiano and getting to know all the coaches. I liked it a lot."
The early offer from Rutgers isn't the only reason Mastromatteo is starting to draw interest.
Simply put, he was a force last fall. Mastromatteo registered 90 tackles and 11 sacks while forcing two fumbles and recovering one for a score. He also returned an interception for a touchdown.
Other schools are involved as well.
"I went to Boston College, too," he said, referring to BC's recent event for juniors. "I was the only linebacker there and I got to talk to the defensive coordinator/linebackers coach one-on-one for a while.
"Those are the only two schools I've visited."
UCF, Penn State, Cincinnati, Tulane and Notre Dame are also evaluating the Class of 2012 prospect.
While Mastromatteo won't name a favorite he admits that he likes a school close to home.
"I like Rutgers but I haven't really been to a lot of places," he said.