June 11, 2008
Story written by Rivals.com's Kendall Rogers
If the University of San Diego ever reaches the College World Series, coach Rich Hill will likely point to pitcher Brian Matusz as a key factor to his program's success.
As a fourth-round pick in the MLB Draft out of high school, Matusz had the opportunity to immediately play professional baseball. However, he also had scholarship offers from Arizona, Arizona State and San Diego.
Choosing to play for a traditional power like Arizona or Arizona State would've been an easy decision. However, Matusz chose to help San Diego become one of the nation's premier programs. It's a decision the 2008 Rivals.com Pitcher of the Year has never regretted.
"From the beginning, I wanted to go to a smaller school in California. San Diego ended up being perfect for me," Matusz said. "USD was a rising program at the time, and the location was absolutely tremendous."
As with most players, Matusz has come a long way since his freshman year. The junior left-hander compiled respectable numbers in his first season, but he improved greatly over the last two seasons.
For that and more, Hill will forever be grateful.
"Matusz was the rock that goes out there and takes care of business on Friday. But even more important than numbers, Brian - as a person - meant more to this program than anything else," Hill said. "We vaulted into the national spotlight because of him and other players. He was always at the front of the line."
Increasing his weight from 165 pounds (as a freshman) to 200 pounds as a junior this season has been a huge key for Matusz. The talented left-hander also gives a great deal of credit to Hill and pitching coach Eric Valenzuela for his development.
"Hill and Valenzuela really helped me become a better player and person," Matusz said. "I owe those two guys a lot for helping me make the jump to the next level in my baseball career."
After getting drafted by the Baltimore Orioles as the fourth overall pick in last week's MLB Draft, conventional wisdom says that Matusz's career at San Diego is all but finished.
His legacy, however, will continue.
"Just the way the coaches and people at USD work with players, it's outstanding," he said. "This program has definitely taken a huge step in the right direction. It's only going to be get better from here on out."