Bonesville: The Authoritative Independent Voice of East Carolina
Daily News & Features from East Carolina, Conference USA and Beyond

Mobile Alpha Roundup Daily Beat Recruiting The Seasons Multimedia Historical Data Pirate Time Machine SportByte™ Weather

Tracking the College Gridiron Stars of the Future

Football Recruiting Report
Friday, January 21, 2005

By Sammy Batten

Long road back from injury molded gifted DB



New Bern High School football coach Chip Williams believed Chris Mattocks’ talents were similar to those of Montario Hardesty when the two were freshman.

“They were about the same height, same speed, everything,’’ Williams said. “He’s the same type of athlete as Montario.’’

The duo would share running back duties for the New Bern junior varsity as freshmen, then began their sophomore seasons doing the same on the varsity squad. But two games into the 2002 season, Mattocks suffered a dislocated right knee against Jacksonville and their careers suddenly took different paths.

Hardesty went on to become one of the nation’s top college prospects this season as a senior, earning scholarship offers from the likes of Nebraska, Notre Dame and Ohio State among others. Earlier this week Hardesty finally gave North Carolina a verbal commitment.

Mattocks required surgery “to replace’’ his anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments, followed by an intense eight-month rehabilitation process. When he returned to the New Bern football team as a junior, Williams decided to use him at safety on defense where there’d be less contact on his repaired knee.

It would be almost another year before Mattocks would regain the speed and agility that led to the Hardesty comparisons.

“When I first came back I wasn’t playing as fast,’’ Mattocks said. “I used to be the fastest guy on the team. All of a sudden I was finishing in the middle of the pack. I couldn’t run fast and that was frustrating.’’

Major colleges, obviously still wary of the injury, were hesitant to recruit Mattocks this season, even though he was healthy enough to earn all-league honors on it. Smaller schools such as Elon and Coastal Carolina offered scholarships, but it wasn’t until Skip Holtz was named the new head coach at East Carolina in December that a Division I-A program showed interest.

ECU assistant coach Donnie Thompson, who was renowned for his recruiting efforts working for Mack Brown at North Carolina in the 1990s, was put on the case.

“When the new staff came in they started taking an interest in me,’’ Mattocks said Tuesday after becoming the second prospect to make a verbal commitment to Holtz at ECU. “I was immediately interested in them.

“I liked everything I saw there from the new coaching staff. I’m fired up about the upcoming season. I’m looking to help turn the program around.’’

The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder played both safety and cornerback for the Bears last season. He finished among the team leaders in tackles, intercepted one pass and broke up 15 others.

Mattocks said he’s been recruited to play safety for the Pirates, but Williams believes he could also handle the pressure at cornerback.

“We played him at cornerback the first half of the year,’’ Williams said. “At 6-1, 200 pounds, he still has good cover skills. But as the year progressed, we needed him at safety. He stepped in there and played very physical against the run. He could play either one. But I think he’d be great against those tall receivers at corner.’’

Mattocks is just happy to have the opportunity to play at the Division I-A level, like his old friend Hardesty.

“We’ve always been real competitive, but we’re real good friends,’’ Mattocks said. “We played on different teams in Pop Warner football when we were kids. His team would always win, but I’d score two or three touchdowns every game against them.

“It was the same in middle school. Our team ran the wishbone and we were both running backs. Then in the ninth and 10th grade we alternated at tailback until I got hurt.

“I’m happy for his success, and I know he’s happy for me. Now we both get to make our dreams come true and play DI college football. I feel really blessed to have this chance. I want to pay Coach Holtz back by helping East Carolina get back on track.’’

Send an e-mail message to Sammy Batten.

Click here to dig into Sammy Batten's Bonesville archives.

02/23/2007 02:36:40 PM

©2001-2002-2003-2004-2005-2006-2007-2008-2009-2010-2011-2012-2013 All rights reserved.
Articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files and other content originated on this site are the proprietary property of
None of the articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files or other content originated on this site may be reproduced without written permission.
This site is not affiliated with East Carolina University. View's Privacy Policy. Advertising contact: 252-349-3280; Editorial contact:; 252-444-1905.