2014 South Carolina football preview: Mike Matulis

Can Matulis contribute to talented line after recovering from injury?

Mike Matulis
RS junior
6'5'' / 304 lbs
Boynton Beach, FL

Recruitment:
3 stars, 49th overall offensive tackle in the 2011 class

Other major offers:
Florida State, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisville, Minnesota, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt and West Virginia

College Career:
Matulis's career began in a very promising fashion in 2011 but has since been derailed by injuries.

In this true freshman season, Matulis found himself thrust into playing time mid-season due to an injury to Kyle Nunn. Matulis acquitted himself very respectably at both left and right tackle that season, earning first-team freshman All-American honors from the Sporting News.

Given his strong freshman season, Matulis came into the 2012 season receiving a solid amount of hype. However, after being a fixture in the starting lineups early in the season, he injured a shoulder mid-season and eventually had to have season-ending surgery. He's since had surgery on the other shoulder, too.

The rehabilitation process would cost Matulis participation in spring camp in 2013, and with rehab taking longer than anticipated, Matulis redshirted for the season. There was some talk that he might not back it back onto the field.

2014 Outlook:
Although his situation looked dire last fall, Matulis has since participated in spring camp and was reportedly in his best shape in years. He's currently listed as Brandon Shell's backup at right tackle. He's played both tackle spots over the course of his career and could also back up Corey Robinson. Given that Shell and Robinson are entrenched at the positions, it seems unlikely that Matulis will be called on to start at either tackle spot this year barring injury to one of the current starters. His versatility could allow for him to get substantial playing time backing up both starters, though.

Shawn Elliott also worked Matulis at right guard this spring, where the Gamecocks are looking for a replacement for Ronald Patrick. Early returns were positive for Matulis at guard, so that might be where you see most of Matulis in 2014.

In any event, given his talent and versatility, it seems likely that Matulis will be back on the field this fall in some capacity.

Trivia:
Steve Spurrier once referred to Matulis as "Matoozles" in a post-practice interview, giving birth to one of the best nicknames among current Gamecocks.

Beat writer's terrible double-meaning lede:
"When most people hear the word 'Matoozles,' they think 'big, cuddly teddy bear.' When Steve Spurrier hears 'Matoozles,' though, he thinks of his hard-hitting offensive lineman, Mike Matulis. This makes Steve Spurrier very happy."

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