TSN article on Mateas.
For Alex Mateas, the road to becoming the No. 2 prospect in the Canadian Football League wasn't a long one - in terms of playing football, anyway.
The Ottawa native only played the game since tenth grade and it was something that he had to initially get pushed into.
"I got into football - like a lot of people growing up, I was playing basketball under Rob Smart," Mateas told TSN this week. "He was coaching us and it was in a tournament between games that he said I might be able to do something with football.
So it was then that I took the advice seriously and I played high school and then club. I just enjoyed it (and) things kept on rolling."
Despite his lack of experience, Mateas found that his athletic background in sports like judo (which he practiced for seven years), soccer (his father Traian is a long time coach) and Olympic weightlifting were instrumental to succeeding at NCAA football.
"I really had a lot of faith in my athletic ability from playing all sports," he explained. "So I've pretty much been lucky from playing all the sports I've had. Every place that I played I had really good coaches and had the good foundation to be an athlete."
Mateas also enjoyed success in weightlifting, making it to the Canadian Junior Nationals. He fell in love with the sport and the training methods he used in it. He was a redshirt freshman at Penn State in 2010, but decided to transfer to Connecticut after one season. One of the reasons for his leaving - his love of weightlifting.
"The training they do there is just different with a lot of machines and high intensity training," he said. "I got a lot bigger but it just wasn't necessarily the training that I liked.
"So I came to Connecticut - I had previous connections here, John Delahunt (who now plays for the Ottawa Redblacks) was there and I liked the offensive line coach so between that and the weightlifting program I thought that was best for me, that along with playing centre."
After sitting out the 2011 season, Mateas finally got back onto the field in 2012, starting four games for the Huskies and appearing in eight games. There was a big transition going into Division I football given his lack of experience, but he weathered the storm thinking it would all work out.
"It was good," he said. "It was a learning experience - pretty much like anything - and it taught me that everyone's pretty much even and you just got to go out there, give it your all and have faith in what you've put in before.
"(You keep) adapting to the speed and kind of learning the game, the line of scrimmage, playing centre and you just keep on working and things work out."
Mateas started the last two seasons at Connecticut and was named a captain in his senior season. According to TSN's CFL Draft Analyst Duane Forde, Mateas is considered the one of the most pro-ready prospects in this year's Draft. His success has also garnered NFL interest. But no matter which league he plays, Mateas just wants to advance to the next level.
"I am going to try and do as much as I can in whatever road it takes me to I'm happy," he said. "You know, if I'm playing down there (in the NFL) - great. if I'm playing up here (in the CFL) - fantastic.
"Either way I am playing football and you get paid," he added with a laugh.
Interest from NFL teams will weigh on any CFL team (including his hometown Redblacks), as will his choice not to attend the CFL Combine (March 21-23) - an event teams consider vital to vetting potential draft picks. He's decided to participate in Connecticut's football pro day instead.
"I would definitely like to take the situation that will give me the best numbers for a pro day," Mateas said. "But also creating a relationship with the teams and letting them know what they would be investing in me by taking me in terms of interviews, I would like to take any opportunity to be able to do that because I know that's part of the CFL Combine."