You could say Salpointe Catholic High School offensive lineman Matteo Mele got caught in a game of follow the leader. It started with Washington State, then Nevada, Colorado, Oregon State, Arizona, ASU and you get the idea.
After playing tight end the past two years for the Lancers, an off-season sit down conversation with head coach Dennis Bene resulted in moving the now 6-foot-6, 270-pounder to offensive tackle in hopes of sparking college interest.
15 Division-I offers later you could say the strategy has paid off.
“Sophomore and junior year I was a tight end but the ultimate goal was for me to become a tackle,” Mele said to Sports360AZ.com. “Junior year I was supposed to play tackle [but] we had that position covered…I was kind of excited because I knew tight end probably wouldn’t get me to the next level.”
Waiting for my shot ⏱
— Teo™ (@MatteoMele2) January 7, 2017
Through spring workouts, the transition has been fairly seamless for the humble, well-spoken Mele (pronounced may-lay).
“He’s so athletic,” Bene said to Sports360AZ.com. “I think he has a very high ceiling and the potential is huge for him to be an outstanding offensive lineman. Once we work on his hand placement and the little details of playing the offensive line he should have a great senior year.”
Mele’s transition inside has been made a bit smoother after watching and following one of his Lancer friends and teammates elevate their game to the next level in the trenches the past few seasons.
“A big role model for me playing offensive line here at Salpointe was Alec Bon,” Mele explained of his former teammate who will play next season at Mesa Community College. “All last year he was basically my player-coach. He has a lot of experience and he’s a great player. He gave me advice on the little things. We watched film together.”
It’s apparent colleges from around the country have watched enough film on Mele to know he is just scratching the surface of his potential as an offensive lineman. The recruiting process has been quite an experience.
“Oh, man, recruiting has been crazy, it’s been really fun,” Mele said shaking his head. “You have to make sure you have good film. That was a key thing to mine. My whole recruiting process took off really quickly.”
— Teo™ (@MatteoMele2) May 11, 2017
When he’s not working out, lifting weights or eating (he says he eats five meals a day in hopes of adding lean muscle mass), Mele prefers to hunt birds, elk or deer instead of overmatched defenders.
Now it’s time for colleges from around the country to go big game hunting in Tucson for arguably the state’s top 2018 recruit.