Zealand Matagi has spent this highly irregular offseason getting leaner and stronger.
As a Star-Advertiser All-State running back in 2019, Matagi suited up at 195 pounds on his 5-foot-10 inch frame. Since then, he has worked endlessly, running the beach, hitting the weights. Getting faster. Now at 190, the senior has the attention of Northern Colorado, which recently offered Matagi a scholarship.
“They take me in as one of their own,” Matagi said of UNC coach Ed McCaffrey and staff.
McCaffrey is father of current Carolina Panthers All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey. Running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Lyle Moevao was the point of contact for UNC.
Northern Colorado, a two-time NCAA Division II national champion, has been a member of the Big Sky Conference since 2006. The Bears were 2-10 last year, including 2-6 in conference play. In the classroom, student-athletes averaged a 3.42 grade-point average in the 2020 spring semester. The athletic program led the Big Sky in Graduate Success Ratings (GSR) and Academic Progress Rates (APR). The football team had an average 3.1 GPA in the spring.
This will be the first season as a head coach at the college level for Ed McCaffrey, who played 13 seasons as a pro. McCaffrey coached one year at Valor Christian High School in Colorado before taking the job at Northern Colorado, located in Greeley.
The Bears’ average attendance since 2011 is 4,265.
In 13 games last year, Matagi rushed for 1,418 yards on 240 carries and scored 19 touchdowns on the ground for Oahu Interscholastic Association champion Kahuku. Kahuku reached the Open Division state final, falling to nationally ranked Saint Louis.
Matagi also has contact with Cal, Colorado, Navy and Nebraska.
He and teammate All-State defensive lineman Zion Ah You considered transferring to Utah to play football this fall and returning in the winter. Each opted against the move rather than risk losing a senior season — in the spring of 2021 — at Kahuku.
Top 3 movies/shows
2. Cool Runnings
3. Menace II Society.
Top 3 foods
1. Spam and corn. “My mom (Malia), her cooking is my favorite. I can make this.”
3. Protein shake. “My favorite is Zion’s ‘Seki Protein.’”
Ah You: “It’s just chocolate protein powder, banana, peanut butter and milk.”
Matagi: “I learned how to spear fish. I can hook up plumbing. I learned rock climbing.”