The University of Pittsburgh football team recently received a verbal commitment from 2019 Manorville (NY) Eastport South Manor CSD offensive line prospect Matthew Goncalves (6-foot-6 inches, 308 pounds). Goncalves earned a scholarship offer from Pitt after an outstanding prospect camp performance on June 9th. The hulking lineman comes from the Long Island area, an area often overlooked by recruiters. To gain better perspective on Goncalves both on and off the field, Pittsburgh Sports Now contacted Eastport South Manor CSD Head Coach Bill Ashton.
“We knew we had something special with him. We didn’t know what we had, but we knew he would be really special. He was a big kid. He was probably 6-foot-4 inches tall as a ninth grader and he played all the sports. He played baseball. He played basketball,” said Ashton. “I told him, ‘Listen, I’m telling you if you go out and you play your cards right, we can have you big time in college and playing big time ball.’ I don’t think he was sure of himself at the time because he wasn’t one of those guys who played all different sports and his friends played baseball and basketball. He could dunk a basketball and he was a pretty good baseball player and everyone else wanted him to play their sport and I said, ‘If you commit yourself to football, you’re going to play big time college football.’”
“When Matt was a ninth grader, one of my JV coaches had him doing monkey rolls or something stupid and he was the starting left tackle and hurt his thumb. He ended up down for most of his ninth grade year. We finally brought him up and he was starting left tackle. He played the whole year. He did a great job for us.”
Goncalves was the 16th player to commit to Pitt, choosing the Panthers over offers from Buffalo, UConn and Toledo.
“Last year my offensive coordinator said, ‘Hey do you think we could move Matt to tight-end? He’s got great feet.’ I said, ‘Well, let’s see what we have for the rest of the line because he would be a very good fifth blocker, sixth blocker and he has the athletic ability to go up and get the ball.’ We wound up having a pretty decent line last year and he played tight-end for us. Unfortunately Matt suffered a meniscus tear in our third game. Matt ended up having limited film due to the injury.”
With Goncalves limited amount of film, Coach Ashton decided to be proactive and invite coaches to observe Matt’s workouts. His efforts expedited the recruiting process.
“I just started to have the college coaches come right to our workouts because I wanted them to see how great (Matt’s) feet were,” he said. “We had a couple college coaches walk out of workouts and calling me five minutes later. They would say, ‘We’re offering him.’ Simply based on his footwork. UConn was on him as a ninth grader. I have a connection with Coach Salem. Coach Salem got to see some of his film working out, he invited him to camp and they liked him right away and that was it.”
Goncalves projects to offensive tackle on the next level, although he played defensive end, as well as tight end, last season. Matt has a large frame and has yet to finish growing. FieldLevel lists Goncalves at 6-foot-7 inches tall.
“Matt is going to be a big find for Pitt because he did go unranked and unrated. Personally I believe those are inflated. I think he’s going to be a nice find for Pitt. I think they’re going to really enjoy him,” Ashton said. “He’s got great speed for a kid that’s so big. He runs somewhere between a 4.9 to a 5.2 (seconds) in the forty yard dash. He’s got a nice low stance. He’s got a straight back. He’s got an 80 inch wingspan, it’s a crazy wingspan. Matt is the kind of kid who you want your son or daughter to have friends with and he’s a ‘yes sir, no sir’ type of kid. I strongly believe that everybody’s going to be very happy with him.”
Harry Psaros can be found on Twitter at @PittGuru