Matt Rush talks Oregon and finishing his final year of college football
In his last year of eligibility with the Washington University football team, graduate student Matt Rush has seen it all since his early days at Francis Olympic. He has progressed from a member of the Junior Varsity squad, to being Washington University starting quarterback for the past 2 seasons as well as being named Second Team All-CCIW twice. During WashU’s opening game of the 2023 season, the graduate student from Hinsdale, Illinois threw for 277 yards and registered four touchdowns in the Bears win against Hendrix College in Arkansas. For his performance, Rush was named CCIW Conference Athlete of the Week. Student Life sat down with Rush to learn more about the long career he has had at WashU, his time at Oregon University football this past spring, as well as who he is on and off the gridiron.
This Interview was edited for length and clarity
Student Life: Entering your final year as a member of the Washington University football team, what are some personal and team goals you have?
Matt Rush: I think realistically the team goal every year is to just take it a week at a time and win every game. I feel like we have a good roster and everybody has bought in and so the goal every year is to win every game on our schedule.
SL: What was the thought process behind returning as a graduate student? Was that a quick and easy decision or was it something you had to think about for a long time?
MR: I think it was a pretty easy decision. Once my sophomore year was canceled by COVID I thought, I want to get this year back. It sucked not being able to do anything. So I think with that opportunity, I knew that I was going to want to play a 5th year of football.
SL: This past spring, you were with the Oregon football team. What was that like? What were some things you felt like you learned that you can apply to this year with WashU?
MR: Yeah, it was an interesting experience, and I learned a lot. But as I said, I’m definitely excited to be back and be around my best friends and learning from Coach Keen, who has done so much to progress my game forward.
SL: With 41 new freshmen joining the program, what has your role as one of the leaders been to help those new faces feel comfortable with the team?
MR: Yeah, it’s definitely crazy seeing so many new faces. But I mean, that’s also why you play the game. It is to also help those kids and it keeps me young.
SL: What have been the biggest strides you’ve made as an overall football player on the field from now versus when you entered WashU as a freshman?
MR: I definitely think Coach Keen coming in really helped me go through progressions and understanding defenses better, because that was something that you don’t get to do much of in high school. And then being a Freshman, I wasn’t really playing so you’re running the scout team. You’re not really analyzing defenses.
SL: You talk about Coach Keen a lot. When you hear the name Coach Aaron Keen, what’s the first word that comes to your mind?
MR: I think very intelligent in terms of the offensive schemes. He’s also extremely competitive, which means a lot to me and all the other players because at the end of the day that’s what we’re trying to do is compete, and you can feel that from him.
SL: Why WashU? How’d you end up here? Talk me through the process of how you came here.
MR: Going into my senior year Coach Kindbom was the head coach at WashU and he is the one who came and recruited me. He explained why WashU, and then I looked it up online. I saw the acceptance rate and looked at how my GPA compared and was just like I think I’d be lucky to get in here. But obviously, you know the people here, and the level of education you’re going to get makes it a no-brainer.
SL: How do you plan on using your finance major in the future? Do you have any plans for after you graduate?
MR: Yeah, I mean, I don’t have any specific plans. I definitely need to find a full-time job, where that is I’m not sure, I am not really too picky.
SL: What is your favorite memory as a member of the WashU football team?
MR: Honestly, I think the bus rides to all the away games and staying at the hotels and getting to see the different campuses, especially those conversations you have on the bus and in the hotel rooms. I think those are precious moments that you get every week.
SL: Favorite memory from just being a student at Wash U.
MR: Honestly, I think like just getting to spend time with people on the football team those times in the locker room after practice chopping it up, playing pool at the DUC.
SL: Favorite class/ favorite teacher?
MR: I’ll have to go with Dr. Patrick Rishe. All the business sports classes are super interesting. I feel like he’s a very engaging professor.
SL: And last question: who was the most influential teammate you’ve had and why was he so influential?
MR: Has to be all the offensive linemen.