Donoghue follows his newfound passion for football to Villanova

Posted: February 06, 2013

WHEN MATT Donoghue was in middle school, he wasn't trying to become the next Jason Peters. At that point in his athletic development, he wanted to be more like Ryan Howard. Donoghue didn't even play football yet. His sport was baseball, and he played first base. But things change.

At some point, baseball just wasn't getting it done for him anymore. It happens. Instead, he tried something different. At first he was a defensive lineman and tight end. As a sophomore at Garnet Valley High he switched to the offensive line. And he's never looked back.

On Wednesday, the 6-4, 275-pound senior will sign a national letter of intent to take his skills just up the Blue Route to Villanova, which is bringing in a class of only eight because it has almost everyone back from the group that made the FCS playoffs and finished 8-4 last season.

It sure isn't the minor leagues.

"It definitely kind of evolved," said Donoghue, who chose the Main Line over Delaware after drawing some interest from the Division I-A level. "Until the eighth grade, it was baseball all year round. I was planning on going to college for that. It was my passion. But all my friends played football. So, I went out for the team and ended up loving it. I think for whatever reason, I just got sick of baseball. I was really successful at football, and it was more exciting. I don't know. But it's worked out."

He's the only local player, and the only offensive lineman, the Wildcats - who are loaded at that position - landed. But if he has to wait his turn, that's OK.

"Whatever they want me to do to help the team," he said. "I'm going to work my hardest and we'll see what happens. Maybe I'll be on the scout team, or maybe I'll get on special teams. It would be great if I could get on the field [right away]. I just want to contribute, whenever I can."

Three of his coaches at GV played in the NFL: Joe Valerio (Ridley High, Penn), Patt Evans (Strath Haven) and Chris Coyne (Delaware). So he's had no shortage of experience to soak up.

"On defense, you can still be a playmaker," Donoghue said. "But they all told me offense was my future. I guess they were right. They've really taught me, especially coach Valerio. He's the guy who's been there every day, my mentor through the whole process. Most of what I know about being a football player came from him. I want to take this as far as I can.

"He's the one who pushed for me to get a great education, to look at the academic part of it. Villanova has a great football program. But it's got a lot more to offer. And I'll be close to home, so my parents can watch me play. That was a factor."

Sure sounds like a win-win.

"My dad's a huge Villanova basketball fan," said Donoghue, who plans to major in economics or business. "I just wanted to see which schools recruited me, and go from there. I just felt like Villanova had more of a family atmosphere. It just felt right. I can't wait to get started."

So play ball. Oops. Better make that heads or tails.

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