Alex Khvatov: What are your measurements (height, weight and forty time)?
Matthew Walsh: I am 6’1, 245 and a high 4.6.
Alex Khvatov: Where are you currently training for the NFL Draft?
Matthew Walsh: Breakout Athlete (BOA) in Connecticut. They train a few guys in the NFL.
Alex Khvatov: What can we expect from you at the Pro Day?
Matthew Walsh: My Pro Day will be on March 22nd. I think scouts will be impressed with my overall physical ability. I plan to do LB drills first and then FB drills second. I should have a lot of attention on me. My testing numbers will turn some heads. They don’t realize how athletic and versatile I can be.
Alex Khvatov: Coming out of high school, what programs showed interest in
Matthew Walsh: A lot of D-I schools in the Northeast like BC, UConn, Temple and Syracuse. Tennessee and Penn State showed some interest. A lot of schools wanted me to go to their camps. I didn’t run as well as expected. I lifted too much. It hurt my stock. I ran for a few guys, and they verified my times. They sent it to UConn. Delaware was actually my first offer.
Alex Khvatov: Why did you choose UConn?
Matthew Walsh: They offered me, and I committed right away. I am from Connecticut and I wanted to play in my home state. It was an irresistible feeling.
Alex Khvatov: What are your strengths?
Matthew Walsh: The main thing are my football IQ and physicality. I was the defensive coordinator on the field. I picked up the defense very quickly. I have a deep understanding of what everyone was doing on the field and around me. I play within the system. The scheme and my football IQ allowed me to be around the ball. We played in a strict defense. We had to run downhill and fill our gaps. It taught me how important run stopping is. I have the physicality to play in the box and dominate there.
Alex Khvatov: What areas of your game are you trying to improve upon?
Matthew Walsh: My zone coverage ability. We played a lot of man coverage at UConn. I was on the field in nickel packages. I can cover TE’s and backs. I need to get a better break on the ball and settle down in my zone.
Alex Khvatov: Describe your overall career at UConn.
Matthew Walsh: I came in as a true freshman and started at FB all 12 games. Midway through the season, we went away from using the FB. It was a rough year. We went 3-9 that year. We got a new staff, and we were confident that they would use the FB. I split time with another player my second year. I was more versatile of the two FB’s. It was a rebuilding year. After that season, I sat down with Coach Diaco. He switched me to MLB where I could use my athletic ability. I picked it up immediately and by the end of spring camp, I was behind Marquise Vann who was going into his third year as the starter and two-year captain. I was competing with him for starting job. We split reps, and I started in the sub packages. We went 6-6 my junior year. We went to St. Petersburg Bowl. It was the first time anybody on our roster has been to a bowl game. Our senior year, we had a tough offseason. We went through a tough strength and conditioning program. I was voted team captain. It was a true honor to represent my teammates and lead them into battle. We won a couple of games. Every single week, we were right there. We came up short at the end of games. We didn’t play to our potential, and it started to take its toll. I made sure no one fell apart. I made sure that everyone stayed true to our preparation. The guys are rejuvenated for next year. I am excited that they will succeed.
Alex Khvatov: Who was the best teammate that you played with?
Matthew Walsh: Junior Joseph is another inside backer. You will always know the truth when you are around him. He is a hard worker. Watch him next year. He should play in the NFL for the next 10 years.
Alex Khvatov: What is the highlight of your career up to this point?
Matthew Walsh: Several different things. Being named the captain of the team. Connecticut is my home state. It was my dream to be a captain. Secondly, I excelled the most when we played Navy this past year. It was a physical game. I had 12 total tackles and a few TFLs. The Houston game my junior year was an unbelievable and memorable upset. Our fans rushed the field, and everyone was taking pictures.
Alex Khvatov: What is your favorite NFL team?
Matthew Walsh: The Giants. My dad is from Stamford, CT. I grew up a Giants fan.
Alex Khvatov: Who is your favorite NFL player?
Matthew Walsh: It’s always been Ray Lewis. Just the passion and the energy he played with. The energy can be spread. Everyone feeds off of a leader. I have always been a leader. Ray Lewis epitomizes the word leader.
Alex Khvatov: What is the most important trait for a linebacker?
Matthew Walsh: Physicality and leadership. You have to show leadership mentally and physically.
Alex Khvatov: What players on your team should we keep an eye on for next
Matthew Walsh: Junior Joseph is an inside linebacker who played next to me. He is athletic. LB E.J. Levenberry was a backup. He transferred from Florida State. I expect big things from him. Both corners Jamar Summers and Tre Bell who decommitted from Florida and transferred from Vanderbilt. He sat out the year. D-line Folorunso Fatukasi will be a senior. He is a physical freak. He is one of the guys that you love having in front of you. DE Cole Ormsby has about 10 sacks every year. He is about 6’4 and 275. We played in a strict defense. Now we are running a different defense. Our guys can run around and make more plays. We have a new defensive coordinator from Villanova. It should be a fun defense.
Alex Khvatov: How would you describe your former teammate Obi Melifonwu?
Matthew Walsh: Everyone has been nailing it on the head with him lately. He was a sleeper, but everyone got to see it at the Senior Bowl. Everyone forgot what a freak he is. He is 6’4, 220 and he can jump out of the gym. He played with such consistency. He is so fast. He made sideline to sideline plays. He made plays against the run. The way he covered the field against South Florida was unbelievable. RB Marlon Mack went on a go route. He went from the other hash of the field and made an INT. Our defensive coordinator Anthony Poindexter said that he never had any safety do that. He is also a very smart guy.
Alex Khvatov: What do you enjoy most about football?
Matthew Walsh: The team and camaraderie. Being around the guys. The workouts every single day. The heart and dedication that goes into it. It is a phenomenal experience. I gained so many best friends. The bond that the game brings.
Alex Khvatov: What are your hobbies?
Matthew Walsh: I like to be active. Golf is my number one right now. I definitely like fishing.
Alex Khvatov: What do you want to do with your life after your football
career is over?
Matthew Walsh: I was a communications major, but would like to go back to school to get my Master’s and pursue a career in either the business field or economics.
Alex Khvatov: What is the biggest life lesson that you have learned so far?
Matthew Walsh: I have learned that it is extremely important to build a strong foundation constructed by your training and preparation. In times of struggle that is what you need to revert back to, so make sure it was properly built.
Alex Khvatov: Finish the sentence, Matthew Walsh is….
Matthew Walsh: A person that will make everyone around him better. You have to have a positive outlook which is infectious. I bring out the best in everyone.