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Brian Mattes: Finance, fraternal spirit draw Mattes to ND

Fran Tolan | Friday, November 17, 2006

Brian Mattes came to Notre Dame as an Associated Press Pennsylvania Big School all-state selection at defensive end as a junior and at tight end as a senior. Little did he know, offensive linemen would soon become his closest friends on the Irish team.

Now a fifth-year senior who graduated last May with a degree in finance, Mattes says he will always remember the fraternal nature of the Irish linemen.

“Every day, the O-Line section of the locker room is a lot of fun,” Mattes said. “Someone’s always ragging on someone else. It’s just very entertaining.”

After not seeing any action as a freshman defensive end in 2002, Mattes was moved to the offensive line before the 2003 season. He cited that transition period as one of his greatest challenges since arriving at Notre Dame.

“Just changing my body make-up was kind of difficult,” said the 6-foot-6, 287-pound Mattes. “I had some trouble putting on the weight [necessary to become an offensive lineman].”

Another change for Mattes, who hails from Larksville, Pennsylvania, was the process of evaluating his own play. As a defensive end, his success could be measured in numbers like sacks and tackles. But he said it is impossible for an offensive lineman to analyze his production statistically.

“I’ve learned that the best way to evaluate my performance as a lineman is to go back to the [game] film,” Mattes said. “You have to check your fundamentals. With good fundamentals, you’ll be successful nine times out of ten.”

Mattes, who had 10 sacks as a junior at Wyoming Valley West High School in Plymouth, Penn., quickly learned the ins and outs of playing on the opposite line.

And, consequently, he has become very close with the other Irish linemen.

Mattes has lived with fifth-year senior offensive guard Dan Santucci for almost four years. Mattes, who lived in Fisher Hall his freshman year, was “pulled into” Knott Hall by Santucci before their sophomore year. The two were roommates in Knott for their sophomore and junior years, then moved off-campus as seniors.

Mattes said he has never doubted his decision to come to Notre Dame, citing “great people, a great education and a great degree” as the most important aspects of his experience here. The decision to return this season was, therefore, not very difficult for him.

“When Coach Weis approached me and asked me to play again, I saw it as an opportunity to just be a college student for another year,” Mattes said. “So I thought about it a little then decided to [come back].”

This season, Mattes saw significant playing time in Notre Dame’s 14-10 win over Georgia Tech Sept. 2, an experience he said he will always remember.

“It was one of my first games really being in there,” said Mattes, who appeared in 28 games for the Irish before this season, most of them as a special teams player. “The atmosphere [at Georgia Tech] was great, even being a member of the visiting team.”

As the Irish prepare for their final home game against Army this Saturday, Mattes said that he hopes “to walk off the field happy and with a feeling of fulfillment.”

Mattes said many of his relatives – including his parents – will attend the game.

“At least one, if not both [parents], make it to every game,” said Mattes, whose brother Kurt is a redshirt freshman offensive lineman at Northwestern. “They try to make it to my brother’s games too. They do their very best and I’m very grateful to them for it.”

After the season ends, Mattes hopes to move to Chicago and find employment in the finance industry. The finance major finished his undergraduate career with a 3.486 GPA as a Dean’s List honoree and knows that his Notre Dame degree will be very valuable to him in his search for a desirable job.

“Graduating from here is obviously a huge advantage,” Mattes said. “The outstanding alumni base can really help you get your foot in the door with some big companies.”