What does it take to be a dominant linebacker? Strength, agility, competitiveness and leadership, all of these qualities in combination set the great apart from the journeyman. Additionally, strong linebackers help set the tempo on that side of the ball and become the “glue” of the defense.
Oregon redshirt freshman Danny Mattingly is an exciting linebacker ready to contribute this fall. His size and refined skill set make him a definite contender for playing time, but he also has the potential to compete among the tight ends and defensive ends, which makes him a versatile asset for the Ducks.
From Spokane, Washington, Mattingly stands 6-foot-5, 230 pounds and has been described by ex-linebackers’ coach Don Pellum as, “the complete package.” Mattingly is a bigger body than most players in his position, and that’s an advantage you just can’t teach. This size with athleticism provides Oregon a huge opportunity for the future.
His redshirt season allowed Mattingly to learn his position within the defense more efficiently than if he’d been pressed into early action. These educational seasons create a developmental stage for incoming freshmen to adjust not only to college level competition, but also to their new team, more complicated offenses and defenses and, ultimately, a new game.
Pellum further commented on Mattingly’s ability to learn, “In terms of being a student and learning, he’s extremely cerebral and picked up our defense a lot faster than some players, and brings a bigger body as a 6-4, four kid who’s a downhill linebacker.”
Given a player of Mattingly’s size, one does not expect a great deal of speed. Mattingly is an exception. At 6-5, he still has speed that exceeds that of many of the offensive players he is defending. This combination of size and speed allows him to drive through the line and into the backfield. With a tenacious attitude, Mattingly is present from start to whistle and certainly knows how to finish a play. At the high school level, he dominated his opponents with athleticism, skill and relentless drive.
Spring practice is just around the corner. While he already exhibits the needed athleticism for the position, it is likely Mattingly has been focused on getting bigger and stronger to better compete against his fellow linebacking candidates.
His prep career was littered with tackles, sacks, forced fumbles and interceptions. It will be exciting to see what he can do as he enters his first year competing for time on the field. Although the college level game is far different than his experience in high school, Mattingly’s skill set, size and attitude will only improve. We shall soon see. Did I mention spring practice begins Tuesday?!
Top photo courtesy of Valero Alamo Bowl