Q&A with Matt Fortin
Oct. 15, 2013
Game Day Magazine: You came to Virginia as a walk-on in 2010 and were put on scholarship last spring. What was that experience like when Coach London stood up in front of the team and told everyone?
Matt Fortin: It was really cool. It was a morning practice just prior to the spring game. It was something I wasn’t expecting to hear in that meeting, but it was great. He put me on the spot and made me talk to the team a little bit, but it was an honor getting to address the team like that and just tell them how grateful I am to be their teammate.
Game Day Magazine: You have an interesting story on how you came to UVa. Can you touch briefly on how you became part of the football team here?
Fortin: I had mono my senior year at Haverford (Pa.) so I did a prep year at Deerfield Academy and thought it was a way to get better as a student and an athlete. I had met coach London when he was coaching at Richmond and when I heard he was hired at UVa I thought it was a great opportunity to reintroduce myself. I was offered a preferred walk on spot and I came in for training camp after graduating from Deerfield. I was behind Danny [Aiken] for a year at long snapper and then took over for him after the 2010 season.
Game Day Magazine: Long snapping is sort of an art, making sure you don’t snap too high or too low into the ground. Can you talk a little bit about your preparation and practice to make sure every snap is on point?
Fortin: A lot of it is technique. I am not the biggest guy in the world, so I focus on technique. I had a great coach growing up, Chris Rubio. He travels around the country helping guys make it to the next level. I practice a lot of the drills he taught me. And I have a great group of specialists, my punter [Alec] Vozenilek, holder Matt Johns, and Jeb Byrne and Blake Blaze our other long snappers do a great job at practice helping me out.
Game Day Magazine: Transitioning to the academic side of school, you were honored with the selection to live on UVa’s historic Lawn. How did you find out you were selected and how excited were you?
Fortin: You apply at the end of the fall semester of your third year. I applied thinking I would give it a shot and see what happens. I found out sometime this past spring. It’s a cool experience seeing who else is living on the Lawn. It is definitely exciting seeing the group of people you are surrounded by. It is a pretty talented group of individuals and I am glad to be honored as one of them.
Game Day Magazine: Now that you have lived there for just over a month, what has the experience been like?
Fortin: The room is small and it takes some time to get used to sleeping on a lofted bed. But it is pretty cool waking up in the morning, you open your front door and the Lawn and Rotunda are right there. You almost forget about why you are in your room and then you wake up, it is pretty cool. And being located in Central Grounds, there are always people coming in and out so it is definitely nice being in the center of the University.
Game Day Magazine: Have you found time to sit on one of those rocking chairs out front of the Lawn rooms and just relax when you are away from football?
Fortin: Yes I have and I like my rocking chair a lot. I come back from class and see people I don’t know sitting in my chair, which is fine. It is definitely a good place to hang out and have people over.
Game Day Magazine: Fellow long snapper Blake Blaze lives three doors down on the Lawn. Do you guys become home base for friends and teammates?
Fortin: Absolutely. Guys just stop in door to door. Pablo [Alvarez], [Adam] Caplinger and I have class together, so we always knock on Blake’s door after we are done with class. Blake and I are constantly borrowing things and taking stuff from each other’s rooms. I was looking for my hammer the other day only to realize that it had been in Blake’s room. It is great having someone like Blake a few doors down. It is definitely like living in dorms. It took some times getting used to riding my bike again to class. It is definitely a bigger step up then being in a dorm.
Game Day Magazine: Moving back to football, what has your favorite on the field memory been?
Fortin: Beating Florida State. It was just a great team win for everyone. Offense, defense and special teams all played great. It was really cool going down there. That game and the Thursday night game at Miami are the two games we really came together as a team and came out with a victory.
Game Day Magazine: You snapped a pretty important PAT in that Florida State win as a freshman, helping give UVa the game-winning point. What types of nerves do you have making sure everything is perfect during snaps?
Fortin: For me, my job is to put my teammates in a position to be successful and that is what I am thinking about when I am out there. It helps to keep things in perspective that that point is just as important as the other extra points or field goals throughout the game. Because if you didn’t make those you aren’t in the position you are at the end of the game. Every snap is important regardless of the score.
Game Day Magazine: You were able to work with former UVa long snapper Danny Aiken his senior year and now he is with the New England Patriots. Danny always said he learned a lot from you. What was that relationship like?
Fortin: I had been to a couple of long snapping camps so I had a good idea from a technique standpoint and Danny is probably one of the most talented long snappers I have ever been around. I was able to give him a few pointers. I think he gives me much more credit than I deserve for that. From him, I really learned how to handle a game. He is a professional athlete now and seeing his approach throughout the week and Saturday, just seeing what he did has really helped me over the past couple of years.
Game Day Magazine: If you were able to play one other position for one play, on offensive or defensive, and could score a touchdown on it, what position would you pick and what type of TD would you score?
Fortin: That is a good question. Quarterback is a little cliché. I might pick tight end; I think Jake McGee has a pretty cool job. It would need to be a short pass. I wouldn’t trust myself with a long one. I would have to have a pretty sweet celebration afterwards and I would work on that.