The Portsmouth High School senior Monday announced his intention to play football for Bryant University, which has offered the Patriots starting quarterback a scholarship package.
Bryant College’s Division 1 Bulldogs are part of the Northeast-10 Conference. Under head coach Marty Fine the team has won two conference championships, the most recent coming in 2007.
“I’ve known Coach Fine since I was little,” said Matt in explaining his decision to attend Bryant during a press conference at PHS Monday afternoon. “I’ve been to his camps. I know he’s a great coach and I felt it was a great fit for me. It’s a tight community, which I really like, especially coming from Portsmouth. I felt it would be a good fit. All the players … seemed very close-knit, very friendly with each other. I really like that.”Matt was named Rhode Island’s Gatorade Player of the Year for 2013. He rushed for 1,859 yards and 23 touchdowns on 227 carries this past season, leading the 9-3 Patriots to the Division I state semifinals. He also threw for 735 yards and three scores on 53-of-101 passing.
In transitioning to the college game, Matt said his quarterback days are mostly likely behind him.
“I think I’m more of a slot wide receiver type, and I can return kicks and punts. So, really just an athlete,” he said of his role with the Bulldogs.
His freshman year goal, he said, is to simply contribute. “I just want to get on the field at some point and help the team out anyway I can,” he said.
Matt will study business at Bryant College.
“I think I’m going to school for the right thing,” he said. “My dream is just like my brother’s — to go play in the NFL. But if that doesn’t work out, I get to fall back on a great degree.”
Matt’s 25-year-old brother Bobby played for Brown University and is now a free agent in the NFL. Bobby Sewall was signed by the Tennessee Titans as an undrafted free agent in 2010. He later played for the Jacksonville Sharks of the Arena Football League in 2011 and 2012. Last year he signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but was waived by the team in August.
Several days ago, when it became apparent he would be attending Bryant, Matt expressed gratitude to his older brother on Twitter. Bobby promptly Tweeted back, “You would’ve done the same for me. I’m hard on you because I know you have what it takes and (I) love you more than anything.”
Besides following in the footsteps of his brother, playing for Portsmouth High was also special because of head coach Ryan Moniz and his teammates, including running back Travis O’Brien, Matt said. He also thanked his parents, Cindy and Bobby Sr., for always being so supportive.
“You guys really pushed me this year, and I just wanted to thank you for that,” Matt said.“We’re certainly immensely proud of Matt and everything he’s accomplished,” said PHS Athletic Director Steve Trezvant. “He set a great example for younger kids on things you can achieve. If you want to reach for the stars, you can do that.”
Matt’s parents were beaming at Monday’s press conference.
“I’m thrilled,” said Ms. Sewall. “It’s been an exciting and yet crazy kind of process as you can imagine, but I feel incredibly happy for him that he made that decision. I think it is a perfect fit. We’ve know the coach for a long time so from a parent’s standpoint, it’s really kind of nice to know that he’s going into a program where hopefully he’ll be very successful and well-cared for, too.”
Mr. Sewall said he was “ecstatic” over his son’s choice. “Quality school, quality coach and I’m just happy to have my son there. Having his brother at Brown and Matty at Bryant, we’re keeping it all right in Rhode Island. We like that too,” he said.
Rival now his teammate
Matt wasn’t the only Aquidneck Island high school athlete to announce his intentions Monday to play for Bryant College. Also at the press conference was Connor Russ of Middletown High School, who was offered a scholarship to play with the Bulldogs.
The two players said they’re looking forward to playing on the same team, rather than as rivals in the annual Thanksgiving Day high school football game.
“It’s quick rare to have two exceptional young men come to us and achieve what they have achieved on the athletic field,” said Mr. Trezvant. “For them to go to the next level and continue to represent all of us is something we will remember not just for this year, but they will be an example for years to come for many of our student athletes to aspire to — to reach for the stars.”