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When that first college offer came in, Mateo Poso could not contain his excitement.
“I remember running out of the house, screaming to my brother…” Poso said. “It was crazy because my brother had talked to the coaching staff there.”
For the soon-to-be sophomore Branham defensive lineman, that day in June was everything. Just finishing up his freshman year, the youngster talked with Arizona State defensive analyst Anthony Garnett.
But it wasn’t an ordinary call.
Instead, it was Arizona State sending an offer Poso’s way, understanding the sheer talent and potential the high schooler with still three more seasons to go before he steps on a college campus possesses.
“Shocked me,” Poso said. “I really thought I was going to get it junior year. Putting the work for him, though, really helped me – Twitter, him teaching me the ways. Really shocked me getting it as a freshman.”
Not too long ago, Poso’s older brother, Frank Poso, went through the recruiting process, which made it a surprise to the younger Poso offer considering that Frank– listed as a 6-5, 335-pound true freshman offensive lineman at Nevada – wasn’t offered until his junior campaign at Branham.
Mateo Poso saw what it takes to become a collegiate student-athlete from the work Frank Poso put in to work his way to a spot in the Mountain West Conference.
“It’s always motivated me because he’s always been the big brother,” Mateo Poso said. “Always had to shine for that. The big body helped him. That was pushing me to be better than him. That’s always been my goal – to be better than him – because he’s a big brother. It makes me work twice as hard to be better than him. That’s pretty much it – work harder and be better than him.”
Part of what Mateo Poso also learned was a key piece of the blueprint that it takes to reach that next level just like his older brother: exposure.
According to Branham head coach Stephen Johnson, Mateo Poso’s father, Frank Poso, sends out 60 emails per day to coaches. Johnson also said that he didn’t talk to Arizona State and that it was all on the Poso family – testaments to the foundation and care the family puts in to help their children succeed.
“He comes from a very strong family background with his father and his mother,” Johnson said. “I feel like they raised him the right way. I think it really reflects in how Mateo approaches the game, how he approaches his teammates and how he approaches every opportunity to get better.”
“My family pushing us to be better (helped me succeed quick),” Mateo Poso said. “They always ask us if you want it, let me know so I can push you. ‘If you don’t want it, let me know.’”
That approach to always strive to be better and be successful is evident in everything Mateo Poso does, and it’s easy for those around Mateo Poso and the Branham football program to understand why he already boasts a Power Five offer following one year of high school athletics.
Branham incoming senior quarterback Nick Bandanza considers Mateo Poso as a younger brother to him due to his strong relationship with his older brother and recognizes first-hand what has molded Mateo Poso into a star.
“It’s just his drive, his will to get out there and work out with us,” Bandanza said. “He would always come out whenever us older kids would play or work out. He would always be out there with us. It’s just the will, the drive. It inspires me to keep going. It inspires me to grind every day.”
Working out before and after practice and going for runs each day has Mateo Poso – and Branham football – ready to take that next step.
Last season, Mateo Poso was part of a Bruins squad that went 11-2 overall, shared a Santa Teresa League crown and went all the way to the Central Coast Section Division IV championship game before suffering a one-point overtime defeat to Milpitas.
Now, he and the Bruins are hoping for more.
“For me when it comes to Mateo, what makes Mateo special at the end of the day is his work ethic and his drive to succeed,” Johnson said. “He is a guy that doesn’t want to take days off. He wants more. He observes more.”
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