April 20, 2024


St. Rita linebacker Matt Kingbury’s bet pays off, senior commits to Minnesota

St. Rita's Matt Kingsbury (48) intercepts the ball in for a touchdown during their 7A quarterfinal game against St. Charles North in St. Charles on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022.

Matt Kingsbury had a feeling his bet on himself would finally pay off on Sunday.

The St. Rita linebacker spent the whole weekend during his official visit at Minnesota waiting for Sunday’s meeting with Gopher head coach PJ Fleck knowing that his first Big Ten full-ride scholarship could finally come. Once Fleck offered, Kinsbury committed and ended a sometimes frustrating recruiting process.

“It was emotional for me, having that scholarship and committing,” Kingsbury said. “Just hearing it come out of his mouth is a feeling like no other. It was a dream, one of the best days of my life. I was really happy.”

Kingsbury entered the weekend’s visit with a mix of full-ride scholarships from Mid-American Conference schools like Western Michigan, Toledo, Miami (Ohio) and Ball State and some Power Five programs like Purdue and Texas A&M offered preferred walk-on spots. The senior didn’t want to rush his recruitment because he felt like he was close to earning a Power Five full ride.

Minnesota defensive coordinator Joe Rossi confirmed those suspicions when he asked on Wednesday for Kingsbury to come on an official visit. The coaches evaluated the senior’s character during the visit and Kingsbury started to fall in love with the school, enjoying the players, Minneapolis, the business school and the coaches.

Kingsbury knew he was going to commit right away once he finally heard what he had waited to hear from Fleck on Sunday. The coach told him that Kingsbury had the best linebacker tape that he’s seen and he liked how physically the linebacker played.

“He believes in me,” Kingsbury said. “A lot of these other college coaches didn’t believe in me. He saw something in me.”

Kingsbury will play in the Big Ten after both his father and uncles played in the conference. He earned the scholarship after an impressive senior season where Kingsbury had 131 total tackles, 11 sacks and two blocked punts. The senior earned IHSFCA All-State honors in Class 7A, won the CCL/ESCC Green Lawless Player of the Year award and helped lead the Mustangs to the Class 7A semifinals and a CCL/ESCC Green title.

Former St. Rita coach Todd Kuska knew Kingsbury’s hard work would pay off despite the frustrating recruitment process. Kuska thinks the linebacker’s game will translate well into the Big Ten as long as he keeps up his speed as he gains more weight.

“It’s great to see that he finally got that opportunity,” Kuska said. “I’m not sure the reasoning on why people were holding off on things, but I’m glad Minnesota came in. Great football player but an even better kid.”

Kingsbury will sign his national letter of intent during early signing day Wednesday but doesn’t plan on stopping the work. His hard-work mentality earned him an opportunity to realize his dreams of playing Big Ten football and he’s placing a new bet on himself in the Twin Cities.

“It’s just going to keep pushing me,” Kingsbury said. “I was working hard before I got this offer but now I have a goal to be one of the best linebackers to play at Minnesota, so it’s going to be a good motive for me to keep pushing every day.”

Michal Dwojak

Michal Dwojak

Michal is a sports enterprise reporter for Shaw Local, covering the CCL/ESCC for Friday Night Drive and other prep sports for the Northwest Herald. He also is a Chicago Bears contributing writer. He previously was the sports editor for the Glenview Lantern, Northbook Tower and Malibu Surfside News.