ASU DE Michael Matus 100% healthy, ready to complete unfinished business

Jul 24, 2023, 4:07 PM | Updated: 4:37 pm

Arizona State defensive end #91 Michael Matus during a college football game between the Colorado B...

Arizona State defensive end #91 Michael Matus during a college football game between the Colorado Buffaloes and the Arizona State Sun Devils on September 25, 2021 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, AZ. (Photo by Christopher Hook/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

(Photo by Christopher Hook/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

TEMPE — Michael Matus did not know if he would ever play another snap of football in his life.

The sixth-year Arizona State defensive end thought his career might be over when he went down with a torn ACL in a practice leading up to the 2022 season.

“I think when it first happened, the first thing in my head was like, ‘Crap, I’m probably not going to play football again,’” Matus said.

But after a difficult rehab process where Matus said he learned a lot about patience and resilience, he decided to return because he felt like the “job wasn’t done.”

Last season, in a role helping the coaching staff, Matus said he felt like he could not aid the team as much as he would have liked. Now, being back on the field, he feels like he can help more.

In 2021, he was No. 11 in the Pac-12 among defensive ends when graded on run defense. In 2022, ASU was abysmal at stopping the run. The Sun Devils were No. 107 in FBS in yards allowed per game, giving up 188.1. Allowing huge games from opponents on the ground — especially in a 30-21 upset loss to Eastern Michigan — was a major factor in why ASU finished 3-9.

Matus said he is confident that his return will help the team improve in stopping opponents’ rushing attacks.

“I think there are a lot more elements that have to come together to have a dominant run defense like we did in 2021,” Matus said. “… That was everybody from the top down. Do I think I can play a big role? Yes. And I’m confident in that. But I know it’s not going to be just me.”

ASU junior defensive lineman B.J. Green was asked how he thinks Matus’ return will help with the team’s run defense, saying the experience and ability to watch for run formations will benefit their position group.

As a sixth-year player, Matus has seen a lot in his Sun Devil career. He has been through numerous coaching changes, seen various defensive schemes and watched the entire college football landscape change with the introduction of Name, Image and Likeness deals (NIL).

Matus said he feels like the “old, wise man” but does not view it as a bad thing. He tries to help the younger players navigate the current college football era and said having so many coaches during his time at ASU has left him with tidbits that can help the team.

ASU defensive back Jordan Clark was also bullish on what Matus will bring to the table for the upcoming season.

“They talk about other guys on our team being leaders,” Clark said. “That guy right there is the key to our defense. So having him back is awesome.”

In order to be the key to the defense, Matus will have to be fully healthy. The defensive end clarified his status when asked if he is ready to go.

“Oh yeah,” Matus said. “Yeah, next Monday, I’m full go.”

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