One on One: Matt Morin ‘14 ILB - Milton Academy (MA) Football
Milton Academy (MA) ILB Matt Morin '14 is one of the top junior linebackers in New England. Morin is a defensive leader for Milton Academy and one of the most intense defensive players we have come across this season.
Morin and his teammates are currently 4-2 in the ISL as they head into a big match-up with undefeated Governor's Academy (6-0).
We caught up with Morin as Milton prepares for their annual end of season Friday afternoon match-up. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. at Milton Academy.
Talk a little about how your season is going and your big win over Belmont Hill this past weekend.
MM: The season is going well but we are definitely not satisfied. We firmly believe, and we think we have proof to back it up, that we are the best team in this league. We are very disappointed in ourselves for letting those two games against BB&N and St. Sebastian's slip away from us. We still have a shot at a bowl game but if we could do anything to play those two teams again and prove we are the best we would do it in a heartbeat.
I believe the season is going well but I am definitely not satisfied. If you ask anyone who knows me and they'll tell you I am a perfectionist and I am never satisfied with my performances. I am leading the team in tackles and making plays but I still see areas of my game that could improve and I plan on working on them right away.
The win over Belmont Hill this weekend was huge for us. Historically it was the first time in I think five years we have beat them. And to go into their house and beat them by thirty was also huge. It also meant a lot as a statement to the league as well. Going back to my point earlier, it meant a lot to us to beat one of the “big boys” after losing two games to two powerhouses that we think we should have won.
Talk about your decision to come to Milton Academy and the balance between athletics and academics that Milton provides.
MM: I decided to come to Milton after my sophomore year at Bridgewater-Raynham. I decided to come because I was very highly impressed with the facilities, athletics, academics especially and just in general the overall better opportunity I would have here.
My decision to leave did not go over very well with people at B-R but I hope people there understand that my decision was more based on that Milton was a better opportunity not that B-R was bad. If that makes sense.
As one of the top junior prospects in New England talk about some of the things you do in the off-season to improve your game.
MM: Basically I just dedicate myself to at least three hours of training a day. Whether that be in the weight room or on the practice field or both. This is sometimes hard both with the academics rigors and time restraints of Milton and my full-time landscaping job in the summer.
This past spring I also joined a 7-on-7 team out in Springfield. The team was made up of kids mostly for Springfield Central and Putnam High. On the team with me was Noel Thomas from CT (committed to UConn) and Cody Williams (currently getting a lot of D1 looks). I don't really like 7v7 as a measure of talent especially for ILB's but I did it mostly just to try to improve my pass coverage skills and overall range. My whole focus is just to get a little bit better everyday because games are not won on Saturdays they are won in july. I think my motivation is also where I come from.
I know that since I am from Massachusetts I do not get as much respect nationally as a kid say from Texas or Florida. So I always tell myself every minute I take off there is a kid in Texas or Alabama or Georgia getting better and trying to take a scholarship from me.
How has the recruiting process been going and can you talk a little about what you are looking for in a school early on and some of the schools that you are hearing from most?
MM: The recruiting process is going well I think. A lot of high quality schools know who I am but I am very anxious for that first offer and it just cannot come fast enough. I think the schools I am hearing from the most are Penn State and Maryland. I am also getting mailings a couple times a week from Missouri. I got a letter from Nebraska over the summer. Boston College invited me to practice and then to their game against Miami. I have also talked to UConn, UNH, Harvard, and Villanova as well.
I think the thing I am looking for most in a school is the football atmosphere. I really want to be at a place where football is everything, that's why I liked Penn State a lot. Also I am looking for a school that has high academics and a team that will help me with my schoolwork and make schoolwork a priority. Those are two reasons why I like both Penn State and Maryland when I visited.
You guys have a big game coming up with undefeated Governor’s Academy. What is it going to take to knock them off?
MM: This game is going to be a dog fight.. We give these guys all the respect in the world. I think you have to when they have won I think fourteen games straight and are the defending ISL and New England champs. But at the same time we still firmly believe that when we play our game with no mistakes or stupid penalties, that we can beat any team in this league. We play the toughest schedule in this league and we believe we should be undefeated as well at this point. Granted we are not and they are so we have to give them the respect they deserve but we are not afraid of them.
We believe that we can definitely beat them. Not easily but we can beat them. I think the game is going to come down to our defense and offensive line. We have some incredible skill players that can make things happen on offense. And when the O-line plays like they can we do great things; like we did Saturday against Belmont Hill. And they have a really good offense as well with a really good running back so that is why I think it is going to come down to my boys on defense stepping up and making plays to win this game.
Talk a little about your game and what you perceive to be your strengths as well as something you need to continue to work on.
MM: Where this is my second year ever playing linebacker (was a DE) I think a lot about my game needs to improve. I think my strengths are beings able to fill wholes and just getting after the ball carrier all over the field. I think another strength I have is being able to read and make the play from the backside. Another strength I think I have is my physical strength. Last year I became the second sophomore in school history to make the 1000 lb Wall for combined bench, clean, and squat. My bench is 325, squat is 430, and clean is 285.
I think my pass coverage does need to improve a little more and I need to do a better job of using my hands to shed blocks.
Talk a little about playing with a kicker like Justin Yoon '15. What does having the element of one of the best kickers around add to your team?
MM: It is definitely great. Its a good thing to be able to know that if something goes wrong and we can only get it to the thirty we can still put three points on the board and then give them the ball at the 20 with a touchback. And I think most of all it is great having him around because he is such a great guy in the locker room.
In your few years of high schol football who has been the best player(s) you have gone up against?
MM: I think Mackay Lowrie from Roxbury Latin. He is a very good quarterback. Connor Strachan from St. Seb's is also a very solid player with a great future. Going up against Noel Thomas of St. Luke's (CT) in 7-v-7 practice was always pretty tough. There are a lot of great players in this league and it seems that almost every week I am going up against a D1 recruit.
As a middle linebacker and defensive captain can you talk a little about the position and some of the dynamics that go with it? Who do you look at as a professional or college player and try to mold your game after?
MM: I think being a MLB you have to be a leader which I think I have been raised to be, especially in football. You are sort of like the quarterback of the defense and you have to make sure everyone is lined up correctly, in the right gaps, in the right coverage, and then make your own reads. I always joke around with coach saying that “it's like herding cats out there”. You also have to be able to fire the guys up and give them the confidence to go out there and force that three-and-out. “When the offense don't wanna score we do!”
I think the linebackers I try to model myself after are the dominance of Clay Matthews and also the dominance and leadership of Manti Te'o. I think I also try to model myself as a teammate after Manti because how unselfish and humble he is as a player and person.
Manti Te'o - Robin Alam/Icon SMI
What other sports do you play and what do you enjoy doing off the field?
MM: In the winter I wrestle. This year I plan on not only make it to New England's but to qualify for Nationals. Off the field when I am not training I mostly like to hang out with my friends in Forbes house playing video games and watching movies and kicking my brother's butt in NCAA Football 13. I also love to go fishing.
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