MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Friends and family are remembering a local football player who was bigger than life — on and off the field.
Sean Matti’s body was discovered in a lake in northern Indiana Tuesday morning after a two-day search.
He went missing Sunday while swimming with friends on Lake Freeman near Monticello, Ind. His friends searched for Matti for six hours before calling police. His body was found 30 feet from shore.
Matti, 22, played for Roseville Area High School and went on to play Big Ten football at Purdue University.
“I think everybody knew Sean in high school,” said Marissa Stautz, who was an ’08 graduate of Roseville Area High School and current Purdue senior.
Stautz, who knew Matti both in high school and college, said he was someone everyone loved to be around, and was much more than an athlete.
“He was so nice to everybody, very welcoming,” she said. “I think every time I have memories of him he had a smile on his face.”
As soon as Stautz decided to attend Purdue, she said Matti was very welcoming.
“When I declared that I was going to Purdue University, Sean really welcomed me into the Boilermaker family and when I got there he helped show me around campus,” she said. “We celebrate our birthdays together.”
Stautz said it was at Purdue where Matti came into his own.
“With the football team at Purdue he really kind of had the chance to flourish there. Everybody kind of knew Sean as a big brother to them,” she said.
Roseville head football coach Chris Simdorn was Matti’s coach in high school.
“Definitely he was the heart and soul of our football team and a leader around Roseville Area High School as well,” said Simdorn. “Sean was a great person across the board. Just a caring person. Unselfish, hardworking, dedicated, really cared about the others around him and really made the other people around him feel special and that was the best thing about Sean. We are definitely going to miss him a lot.”
Matti was a walk-on running back for the Boilermakers, and Purdue has put a memorial for Matti on their website.
In a statement, Purdue football coach Danny Hope wrote, “Sean Matti was a special young man whose positive spirit will be a part of our program forever.”