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November 14, 2005

All in the family

ANAHEIM, Calif. - At Servite High School, the football program is all about family. You develop a special connection with your teammates, coaches and the people in the community. For sophomore offensive lineman Matt Kalil, the bond also goes back to his real family.

His brother, Ryan Kalil, played at Servite before moving on to USC, where he is a junior starter at center and is on the Rimington Trophy watch list. And his father, Frank, is one of the biggest supporters of the Friar program.

Servite football is definitely in Kalil's blood, and he wouldn't trade it another thing.

"My parents sent my brother and I to Servite to learn about brotherhood," Kalil said. "My dad loves the football program here. He knows its all about teamwork, and he just loves the brotherhood that goes on. I don't think any school has close bonds like we do."

The bond of playing at Servite has even made Kalil's friendship with his brother even stronger.

"He set a great example for me with all the great things he did at Servite," Kalil said. "By watching him, I've learned it's a tough life, and you have to earn things to get them. If you work hard at Servite, you'll accomplish all the things you want.

"My brother worked his hardest and now he's at SC. It gives me big motivation and confidence. We're really close, and I think that's something that got even stronger with the lessons we've learned by coming here."

While his older brother is one of the nation's top college offensive linemen, Kalil is working hard to grow into his monster frame. He is still growing at 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds, and coach Troy Thomas said he's starting to come into his own.

"Our O-line coach, Ed Drzanek, has coached a bunch of Division I offensive linemen and it's been a great tradition at our school," Thomas said. "He's saying a lot of great things about Matt. He really thinks he's going to be something special by the time he's a senior.

"He moves really well, and he's another that works hard. He's been around his brother and he knows what it takes to be a success. I have no doubt he's going to be big time."

That's as long as he continues to get bigger. Kalil has been working hard on adding solid weight ever since he was a freshman. His father, Frank, was a center at Arkansas and Arizona and then was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 1982 before playing for the USFL's Arizona Wranglers. Kalil's father was smart and got him on protein shakes right when he started high school.

"My freshman year, I was around 185, so I've gained over 60 pounds," Kalil said. "I'm eating what I want. I'm a big steak lover, and the 14 ounce steaks from Outback Steakhouse are the best. I would eat three of them if they'd let me.

"I've been working hard and lifting quite a bit. I know I'm going to get to my goal. I can see myself around 280 when I graduate. I think in college, I could be around 290 or 300 pounds and still carry the weight very well."

College choices are still more than two years away, but Kalil has his future outside of football already thought out.

"I want to start my own business like my pops," Kalil said. "He started his own business after playing in the NFL, and he made sure to get his degree. He's living the good life after now, and I like the example he gave me. My dad has opened a chain of coffee shops, so I'm interested in that.

"They're called Mojos, and it's pretty cool. I love coffee, so maybe I can get involved with that or start my own business. I love the example he set for me."

Kalil said there are no questions those family bonds and brotherhood were strengthened by Servite.

"Servite is all about family," Kalil said. "It still does amaze me how much it's brought me closer to my real family, too. Family is the most important thing in your life and this school has helped me realize that."


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