|73 Christian Matau|
ECU Head Coach Ruffin McNeill Welcomes Back 14 Returning Starters, 50 Lettermen
A resilient and personable lineman whose admirable fight through physical adversity throughout collegiate career offers inspiration … Successfully bounced back from a nagging left knee injury (suffered during prep action) that hampered early development in 2013 and 2014 before left arm injury interrupted first campaign as a full-time starter in 2015 … Completed rehabilitation from latter ailment and made quick impression on new coaching staff during spring drills … Projected to open junior season as the Pirates’ starting center and could progress into an honors candidate on the conference level … Has been directed by three different position coaches during career, but progress has been visibly enhanced with arrival of new line mentor Geep Wade …Work in ECU’s strength and conditioning program has redefined frame … Increased back squat total by 130 pounds during 2016 spring testing (475 to 605) … Also owns a bench press of 350 and a power clean of 274.
2015: Played in eight contests as a sophomore with five starts … Opened season as a reserve center for the first three games before earning starting assignment prior to the Virginia Tech tilt … Followed by opening contests against SMU, BYU, Tulsa and Temple before suffering a season-ending left arm injury (did not experience action vs. Connecticut, USF, UCF and Cincinnati) … Pirates averaged 448.6 yards and 33.2 points per game in contests started … Also sparked a rushing attack with a 171.8 ypg clip in those five matchups (compared to just a 105.9 ypg average in the other seven games) … First career start against Hokies resulted in a 35-28 victory that was fueled by a 182-yard rushing effort … Initial road start (at SMU) produced a 306-yard ground attack, ECU’s highest total of the season.
2014: Did not experience game-day action during first season on the Pirates’ active roster because of the left knee ailment … Was medically released by athletic training staff to play against UCF and Florida (Birmingham Bowl), but did not compete on the field against Knights and Gators, respectively.
2013: Missed the majority of the fall season on unit’s development (scout) squad because of the aforementioned knee injury … Was cleared early for limited action but aggravated existing condition and was forced back to rehabilitation activities … Signed with the Pirates in February.
High School: A three-year letterwinner, two-year starter and team captain for coach Bobby Curlings and the Bears ... Helped lead New Bern High School to an undefeated season (15-0) as a senior and the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 4A state championship after a 39-38 win over Porter Ridge ... Considered one of the anchors of an offense that scored 645 points (topped 40 on nine occasions) - an average of 43.0 per game ... Credited with 35 pancake blocks in 2012 ... Suffered a season-ending knee injury and did not play in any of the playoff games ... Was selected to play in the Annual Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas, but missed contest due to the aforementioned injury ... Earned all-area honors from the New Bern Sun Journal as a senior ... Played an integral role in the Bears' 12-2 campaign in 2011, which included a perfect 5-0 mark in 4A Mideastern League play ... NBHS reached the 4A NCHSAA state semifinals before falling 61-28 to eventual state champion Scotland County (a loss the Bears later avenged with a 23-6 victory in the '12 state semifinals) ... Keyed a line as a junior that helped New Bern average 40.4 points and over 400 yards of offense per game ... A First-Team All-Mideastern Conference and New Bern Sun Journal All-Area pick in 2011 ... Reportedly turned in prep testing lifts of 345 pounds (bench press) and 415 (squat), while running a 5.25 40-yard dash and producing a vertical jump over 20 inches.
Personal: Full name is Kerisiano T. Matau, but prefers to go by Christian … Born August 1, 1995 at Bellflower, Calif. (suburb of Los Angeles) … Oldest brother, Ben, was a 6-foot, 245-pound two-way lineman who was part of New Bern's 2007 state 4-AA championship team as a sophomore, while middle brother, Jonathan, was labeled as a “physical and intense player” who earned first-team All-Mideastern 4-A Conference honors as a senior in 2010 at linebacker ... Father was a high school quarterback, while first cousin Fou Fonoti was a starting right tackle in the Michigan State program (completed career after 2013 season) … A management major who earned ECU Honor Roll designation for efforts in the classroom.