Matt Poursoltani's 700-Pound Bench Press Makes Him Intriguing Low-Risk Recruit

Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistMarch 26, 2013

via Denton Record-Chronicle
via Denton Record-Chronicle

The phrase “workout warrior” has essentially lost all meaning over the years, but Texas high school football recruit Matt Poursoltani is doing his best to bring it back into the national lexicon.

A senior defensive lineman prospect, Poursoltani also has quite the side hobby as a powerlifter. As first reported by the Dallas Morning News, Poursoltani set the Texas state bench press record on Saturday. 

The weight? Seven-hundred pounds. No, that’s not a misprint. Poursoltani lifted the 700-pound weight before an astounded crowd on Saturday, which broke his own previous best of 670 and destroyed the previous state mark of 570 pounds—which Poursoltani already held.

Bench-pressing 700 pounds sounds Herculean in and of itself, but it’s important to put it in perspective. Poursoltani’s mark is just five pounds fewer than the reported NFL record of 705 pounds, which was set by former Dallas Cowboys great Larry Allen. It’s also a little less than five times the average weight of a male within Poursoltani’s age range. 

It’s an utterly freakish accomplishment that has gotten about as much recognition as it deserves. Bleacher Report’s Twitter feed may have summed it up perfectly (bro): 

More important than making him the face of an internet meme, Poursoltani’s workout ascent has tremendously raised his profile as a college recruit. College football fans from across the nation are now asking about this Poursoltani kid and why we’ve never heard of him before.

Well, the answer to that is quite simple: Poursoltani was almost completely off the national radar as a recruit. As of publication, Poursoltani does not have a recruit page on 247 Sports, Rivals or ESPN—three of the preeminent college recruiting websites—and they have a page for everyone who has even thought about football. 

At 5’11” and 270 pounds, Poursoltani’s weightlifting prowess becomes even more impressive. But it also makes him a vastly undersized defensive tackle (his natural position), and his bulky frame and lack of height makes him an undesirable defensive end prospect as well. 

Teams can get “skinny” players into the weight room and give them bulk. Height, however, is one of those “unteachable” traits you oftentimes hear about. 

As such, it’s hard to call Poursoltani a “major” recruit. He isn’t going to leap from obscurity to a scholarship with Texas, Notre Dame or any other number of high-profile schools. That would be like those schools offering the NFL Punt, Pass & Kick winners a scholarship as an “athlete.” Just because he can bench-press Dumbo doesn’t mean he’s suddenly a 5-star recruit. 

However, Poursoltani’s workout warrior status does make him a star on the rise—especially for smaller schools.  His raw power is historic. And with the fact that he’s only a high school senior, those tools could be morphed into something special with the right coaching staff. 

Essentially, Poursoltani is the anti-Manti Te’o. The former Notre Dame linebacker has come under scorn lately for his lack of measurables at the NFL combine, where he ran a paltry 4.82-second 40-yard dash

What Te’o has, though, is more individual accolades than a NASCAR driver has sponsors. He finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting, a best for a defense-only player, and led Notre Dame to an undefeated regular season in 2012. But his disappointing performance at the combine led many to view his pro day on Tuesday—and especially his 40-yard dash time—as an indicator of his future prospects.

Poursoltani is the opposite. He’s a young man who, while a fine football player, is more intriguing due to his raw physicality. His height and weight combination will give many pause—and understandably so—but his strength could be game-changing if harnessed correctly.

With history littered with college recruits who were “too small” for their positions, Poursoltani is worth the risk for plenty of forward-thinking coaches. And after his bench-press performance last weekend, it’s hard to doubt him accomplishing anything he sets his mind to.