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Miner to play for Muleriders

February 2, 2012

Bauxite Miners’ defensive lineman Matt Steele signs a letter of intent to play tight end for the Southern Arkansas University Muleriders on Wednesday morning in the Bauxite High School auditorium. Beside him is his father, Joe, and mother, Debbie. In the back from the left are assistant coaches Justin Ray, Dennis Hudgens, head coach Shane Clancy, assistant coach Wes Mode, and AD Doug Quinn. TONY LENAHAN/Courier

BAUXITE – Bauxite Miners’ senior lineman Matt Steele signed with the Southern Arkansas University Muleriders out of Magnolia, Ark., on Wednesday morning in the Bauxite High School auditorium.

“I think it’s awesome,” Bauxite Coach Shane Clancy said. “It’s something he’s talked about doing since the eighth grade.

“I think the big thing he needs to recognized for, he took care of business on the football field, but most importantly took care of business in the classroom. High ACT score, high GPA and he’s getting his school paid for. Any time a kid can do that, you’re really proud of them.”

Steele signed to play tight end for the Muleriders even though he hasn’t played tight end since he was a sophomore. Clancy explained that Steele took one for the team when he switched to right tackle and defensive end to take better advantage of his 6-4 frame.

At 6-4, 215 pounds, his size and potential to gain weight sold SAU on Steele.

“I think being 6-4 and the ability to gain some weight,” Clancy started. “Tight end is where they will start him and if he gains some more weight, he might end up playing tackle or defensive end.

“Height you can’t coach. He bought into [Bauxite’s plan] for the last two years and the way he’s worked with his footwork, he may be a blocking tight end or catch the ball. He can catch. It’s just how they’re going to maximize him.”

Steele said the Mulerider coaches said he has a chance of playing as a true freshman and that he plans to practice radiology after his football career.

“I’m kind of nervous, but kind of excited at the same time,” Steele said. “Just ready to get down there and be part of the team.”

The Muleriders need all the help they can get as they finished in seventh place out of nine teams in the Great American Conference with a 3-4 conference record and 3-7 overall.

“He’s worked hard; very dependable,” Clancy said. “He is really smart and always works to get better. He was a force for us blocking offensively and he did a really good job playing defensive end. He’s a competitor and he’s reaping the rewards for all his hard work.”

“I don’t think he would care if he was playing kicker. He just wanted to play college football and he achieved his goal. I just think he’s starting a journey and we’re excited for him.”

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