USC Football

Remembering Fred Matua

July 11, 2019

Fred Matua was a member of some of the most potent and if you were the opposition, scary offenses in college football history as a starting guard for the Trojans from 2003-05.  And when I say scary, I mean that figuratively as well as literally.  Fred was a kind gentile man off the field, but once he strapped the helmet on he was a throwback to the old school style offensive lineman.  Mean and nasty, drive your backside into the dirt, type of offensive lineman.  And when he was done taking your lunch money, he’d tell you he was coming for more on the next play.   USC Hall of Fame writer Loel Schrader commented at the time, "Fred doesn't care which side of the ball they put him on, he's just gonna kick the ass of the guy across from him."

When Fred arrived at USC there was discussion about which side of the ball he should play on.  While at Banning High School in Wilmington, CA, Fred was a star defensive tackle.  It was a part of his football identity.  Looks like brain trust made a good decision to play him on offense.

"Fred doesn't care which side of the ball they put him on, he's just gonna kick the ass of the guy across from him."
Loel Schrader

As a true freshman in 2002, Fred, was actually scheduled to start against Auburn at guard and was also available to play center.  A knee injury in fall camp prevented that from happening, although he did see some action in a limited role.  After aggravating the knee injury leading up to the Colorado game, the decision to redshirt him was made. 

In 2003 Fred started half the season alternating with Big John Drake, helping him earn 2003 Freshman All-American second team and The Sporting News Pac-10 All-Freshman first team honors. 

In 2004 while playing the entire season with nagging back and ankle injuries, Fred started at right tackle and helped anchor an offensive line that went on to win the national championship. USC trounced  Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl 55-19! 

2005 was a magical season that ended on a sour note (still have not watched the replay since haha!)  Once again, Fred was a stalwart on that line too.  That offensive line was a key component to a Trojan dynasty that won 34-games in a row.

Matua’s professional career wasn’t as successful.  He left USC following his junior season in 2005 to enter the 2006 National Football League draft.  He was a seventh-round pick by the Detroit Lions but played that season for the Cleveland Browns. After one season with the Browns, Fred, was on the practice squad rosters of the Tennessee Titans and the Washington Redskins. He also participated in the United Football League.  

Fred left USC early too help his family.  That was Fred’s personality off the field.  Just a kind giving person, thinking of others first. 

The night before the start of training camp in 2012, sad news hit the USC football program. Fred Matua, an offensive guard at USC who started on the Trojans’ 2003 and 2004 national championship football teams, died on Aug. 5 in Los Angeles due to a heart-related issue. He was 28.  

Head coach Lane Kiffin said,  “It is incredibly sad that Fred has left us at such a young age,”  USC head football coach Lane Kiffin, who was an assistant at USC during Matua’s Trojan career, said Sunday when the school announced his death. “Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time. The Trojan family has lost a true warrior.”

Matua would have been 35-years old this year and the Trojan Family will always remember No 51 for the way he conducted himself on and off the field. 

In 51 days, he will be watching USC with other great Trojan legends who have left us, sitting in a VIP room hosted by John McKay and Loel Schrader smong others.  In 51 days we’ll be watching Bernard Shirmer wear No. 51 and hopefully play with the same attitude and grit that the late Fred Matua played with.

Fight On to the Matua Family



Tags: Football, USC, 2019
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