Erie (Pa.) McDowell offensive lineman Dan Matha had been one of the biggest question marks heading into the spring evaluation period because of an injury to his leg that broke his fibula, dislocated his ankle and tore both his inside and outside ligaments that hold the fibula together.
For most people and injury like that would be the end of the road for their athletic career, but for Matha it was just a temporary setback. He used this past Saturday's NIKE Training Camp at State College, Pa., to tell everybody that he's healthy and ready to prove he's one of the Midwest's best linemen.
Matha dominated at the camp, and according to NIKE offensive line coach Pete Brock he rated as the top prospect in the camp at the position.
"He has an amazing frame that you can't coach," Brock said. "And he also has some great feet and technique for a big guy.'
Matha was pleased with his day and felt like the camp was his official re-coming out party.
"I felt like my stats the best that I've ever had," Matha, who measured in at 6-foot-7 and 310 pounds, said. "Since my ankle injury, I was a little worried about running, but I talked to my coaches and we decided to give it a go. If I didn't do it, then people were going to be like 'he's got something to hide.' I figured I might as well do it since I was here, and I just went out and did the best.
"The shuttle was the fastest I've ever done in my life. I ran a 4.88, which is apparently a really good time for a big guy like me. I felt like this was my chance to show everybody that I'm back."
Matha was a little disappointed with his 40-yard dash time of 5.56 seconds, but when he dominated the one-on-one drills it didn't matter how fast he ran. He was simply the best lineman in the camp.
"I have good technique and footwork, it doesn't matter how fast you are if you get it done," he said with a laugh after the camp.
But still, Matha said the camp was a good learning experience for him.
"I need to learn how to transition that footwork that I have into run blocking," he said. "My team is more of a run blocking team, so I just need to work on my pass blocking. This camp was really good for me too because I got to size up the competition. I think I did well, but I know I need to still get better."
Even before Saturday, Matha was good enough to earn offers from West Virginia and Pittsburgh. He is expected to check out Virginia and Iowa on unofficial visits shortly and schools like WVU, UConn, Pitt, Notre Dame, Temple and Buffalo were at his school last week.
"I think this camp will really help my stock," he said. "I'm hoping more schools step up and offer now."