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June 7, 2012
Dallas Jackson is the National High School Sports Analyst for Rivals. Email him your questions and comments at DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.
Spokane (Wash.) Mead prospect Danny Mattingly knows what it feels like to be a big fish in a small pond. The three-star tight end is the highest-rated prospect at his school since his older brother, Andy, came through the school in the Class of 2006.
He also knows what it takes to land a big fish.
"Man, I love spear fishing," he said. "We have a lot of really clear and clean rivers by my house so I will go out spot the fish and spear them."
His biggest catch: A 37-inch carp.
On the field the 6-foot-5, two-way player has secured some big catches as well, hauling in 38 passes and eight touchdowns as a tight end, to go with five interceptions when lining up at linebacker.
His list of college offers is growing and includes Arizona State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon State and UCLA , among others. His invitations to camps are also growing, including the inaugural Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge from June 22-24 in Atlanta.
"I am not sure I was going to get an invite," he said. "Not many people up in this area are given the chance to showcase themselves nationally.
"I am so excited to go and compete and get the opportunity to see some of the other players from across the country."
Mattingly said there is a perception that there is not a strong pool of talent near his hometown.
"People think we don't have good football players here," he said. "Maybe they are right, I don't know, but I do know there is hard hitting up here and we have kids who work their (butts) off all summer to play. We have a lot of heart."
Mattingly is excited to watch many other top players, but he also will be seeking some advice about college.
"They are going through the things I am going through, so it will be good to talk to them," he said. "There are so many benefits to talking with the level of guys who will be out there about what they are using to make their decisions (that) I will ask. Maybe if I meet some guys and we go to the same school that would be legit, too."
Mattingly said that he doesn't know which schools he is leaning towards yet -- and that his brother playing at Washington State didn't give the Cougars any advantage -- but that he would continue to work to get better.
"Hell yeah," he said. "Ever since I was little I have been working to get to where I am."
His invitation to the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge is validation of his efforts.
"It is great to get recognized," he said. "A lot of heart and a lot of work will pay off. It is good to know that it is the truth."
"Football and education are so big to getting where I want to go," he said. "I worked as a ski instructor for little kids this winter and it was more like daycare and I don't want to have to do that kind of work for my life.
"Football can give me a chance to expand to go somewhere totally new and that is cool for me."
Mike Farrell's take
Tights ends are crucial in 7-on-7 play and Mattingly will be a key big target for Max Browne for the West squad. He is an athletic kid who will not only sit down in the soft spots of zone coverage, but can also stretch the field. He's out to not only show that he's a four-star prospect and the best tight end on the West Coast, but that his area is underrated when it comes to football prospects. He's also a standout linebacker who had five picks as a junior, so he has great ball skills and knows the defensive perspective which allows him to read tendencies well.