Father knows best: Kalil is an O-lineman, not a tight end

INDIANAPOLIS — The way Matt Kalil describes it, the top offensive line prospect in this year’s NFL draft almost played tight end instead.

Matt Kalil, considered the top offensive line prospect in this year's draft class, speaks Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine. (Ben Liebenberg/NFL)

“My first time going to Servite (High School in Anaheim, Calif.), I tried to play tight end as a freshman,” Kalil said Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “My dad got on the field and was like, ‘No, he’s playing left tackle.’ Pretty much ended that dream.”

After being drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 1982 and later playing for the USFL’s Arizona Wranglers, Frank Kalil made sure his sons were destined to become offensive linemen. His eldest, Ryan, plays center for the Panthers, while Matt, having just completed his junior year at USC, is set to go in the first round of April’s draft.

But Matt said his dad isn’t simply living vicariously through his sons.

“My dad did a great job of raising me and my brother,” Kalil said. “He definitely didn’t force football on us. It was definitely a choice that we wanted to make. He made it clear that we could play any sport we wanted to. If we wanted to play football and we wanted his help, it was going to be his way. So it was definitely a choice that we made.”

Dad’s way was as an offensive lineman. As Kalil describes it, once he became serious about football in high school, he was booked for weekly sessions at the local park with his dad. The only reason they brought footballs was to imitate the snap.

“My dad’s ‘Let’s play football’ was ‘Let’s go do kicksteps. Let’s work O-line drills,’ ” Kalil said.

Does he now thank his dad for crushing his dreams of becoming a tight end?

“No. I would have been a sweet tight end,” Kalil said with a smirk. “Maybe like an Anthony Munoz or something, catching touchdowns in the end zone.”

– Aron Angel

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