Wilton lineman Gulbin drawing interest from DI college football programs
Less than an hour after he finishes answering questions for a story, Matt Gulbin texts with an update: Another college is interested in his services
This time it’s Wake Forest, which becomes the 12th NCAA Division I Football Subdivision Program to extend an offer to Gulbin, hoping he will come play for them after graduating from Wilton High School in 2021.
Gulbin’s popularity is understandable. He’s 6-foot-4 and 290 pounds with strength, athleticism, determination, and a high GPA. He’s coming off a junior season in which he started for Wilton at left tackle and along the defensive line, earning All-FCIAC and All-State first-team honors and making the Walter Camp All-Connecticut squad. He’s also ranked 38th nationally (by 247Sports.com) among prospective guards in the class of 2021.
“I field calls pretty much every day from college coaches asking about Matt,” Wilton head coach EJ DiNunzio said. “He has the size; he has the smarts; he has the work ethic. Once these coaches see his tape — and tape doesn’t lie — they know he’s a top prospect.”
“College coaches have told me they like the way that I physically play,” Gulbin said. “They also like how well I can move at my size. I am getting recruited to play offensive line and that’s where I want to play. I love playing offensive line. I have developed a great passion for the position over the years.
“Both positions (offensive and defensive line) are extremely technical. You need to know how to use your hands, feet, hips, and eyes in every part of the game,” Gulbin continued. “They also both require a very aggressive attitude. What sets the offensive line apart from the defensive line for me is the camaraderie that you build in the offensive line. An offensive line must be a complete unit. If one man messes up, the entire unit messes up.”
Although he played well as a sophomore starter, Gulbin became a far more dominating presence in 2019.
“Last year I didn’t have a lot of technique and I kind of just used my strength to move defensive linemen,” he said. “In the off-season I started training with a former NFL player (guard DJ Morrell) and he taught me how to run block, pass block, and take the correct steps for in-game situations. He also showed me how to stretch every day and work on my flexibility to enhance my agility and speed. His teaching most definitely showed this season.”
“Matt began fine-tuning his game. He really started working on his footwork and his hands,” DiNunzio said. “You could also see it in his overall conditioning. As a sophomore he was pretty much done by the end of the third quarter. This season he was still raring to go in the fourth quarter.”
DiNunzio said that he might move Gulbin to either guard or center next season, even if it’s on a game-to-game basis.
“We actually entertained the thought of having Matt play center against St. Joseph this year because they had a big and dominant nose tackle (Jermaine Williams),” DiNunzio said. “The great thing is that Matt has the flexibility and skill to play any of the positions on the offensive line. We can use him where we have the biggest need.”
Gulbin’s off-season emphasis is on an area with long-term benefits.
“I think I need to stay in the weight room and continue to train hard,” he said. “The level of play in college is an entirely different animal than high school and I want to be prepared for that the moment I step on campus.”
Where that first step takes place is yet to be determined. Pittsburgh, Air Force, Rutgers, Princeton, Army, Dartmouth, Fordham, Yale, Connecticut, Vanderbilt, Massachusetts, and Wake Forest have made offers, and more colleges will likely follow.
“Not really,” Gulbin said when asked if he had a preference. “I am willing to go to college far away if it is the best fit for me. I don’t have a specific conference in mind; I just want to find a school that is the best fit both academically and athletically.”
“One way I have told Matt to approach his decision is to imagine ... God forbid ... that he gets injured on the first day of practice and can’t play again,” DiNunzio said. “Would he still be at the school where he wants to spend four years and get a degree. That approach might help him make the right choice.”