East Coast native Matt Vitale finds home with Viking football


Quarterback Matt Vitale receives a snap in shotgun formation at Viking Stadium In Pleasant Hill, California on Friday, September 8, 2017. (Inquirer/Mike Stehlik)

Aaron Tolentino, Staff member

Most students attending Diablo Valley College did not have to pack their belongings, move out of the comfort of their own home and travel from one side of the country to the other.

DVC quarterback Matt Vitale did just that.

The New Jersey native is currently attending his first year at DVC and chose to move to the West Coast due to the lack of a strong junior college presence back in the East Coast.

However, even after immediately winning the starting job at quarterback, the transition for the 20-year-old Vitale was not an easy one.

“When I first came out here, it was tough, I couldn’t really be a vocal leader because I didn’t know the kids and their personalities,” said Vitale. “I was trying to lead by action, do the right thing and do everything I should do.”

Through three games, Vitale has put up impressive numbers with eight touchdown passes and 659 yards, but none of that would be possible without the chemistry he has built with his teammates.

“He spends a lot of time in practice working on chemistry,” said wide receiver Cameron Norfleet who has caught three touchdown passes from Vitale this season. “He’s always trying hard and he’s always holding himself accountable. It’s easy to follow a guy like that.”

Leadership, winning habits and building chemistry with your teammates are one of the many intangibles that cannot be measured through a stat sheet. They are skills developed at a very young age.

“I would always train and take mental reps as a quarterback when I was little,” said Vitale. “I was four years old when I started playing football but I never played quarterback until my eighth grade year.”

Not playing quarterback until the eighth grade had to do with coaches thinking Vitale was too small for the position. However, a quarterback’s greatest asset is not how big he is, it is how smart he is on the field.

The 5-foot-10 inch, 150-pound Vitale displays just that.

“He just semmed so calm in the pocket, you see him identify a blitz, check the protection and change the call,” said head coach Mike Darr. “He stands in right as the blitz is coming and his accuracy really jumps off the screen.”

Vitale looks up to the best quarterbacks in the NFL today, especially the smaller ones like Drew Brees and Russell Wilson who play the game using their minds as their greatest asset.

“When you’re smaller, coaches see you as small so you have to play bigger,” said Vitale. “You have to have a higher standard for yourself.”

That type of mentality is what led Darr to want to heavily recruit Vitale, though he is an out-of-state student, to play Vikings football.

“Size is why a guy like Matt who performed as well as he did in high school get overlooked,” said Darr. “For years, we wanted the best players not the tallest players.”

At a junior college, most Division I hopefuls like Vitale want to get noticed as an individual by scouts, but when asked what his personal goals were this season, he did not fall in the trap of wanting individual glory.

“I just want to win, win, win,” said Vitale.