Matthias Staalsoe: Denmark’s next great offensive lineman

Football is finally back this spring for many different college football programs. After missing out on having a fall season and dealing with months and months of uncertainty, athletes at many FCS schools are eager leave their couches and hit the field once again.

For the University of Maine Black Bears, a six-game spring 2021 season brings familiarity and calm to what has been a turbulent year. As the team begins to mesh after year-long offseason with no practice, communication up front is key. Maine’s coaches are happy to have Matthias Staalsoe return as their starting left guard. His presence will bring experience and leadership to the team’s most valuable position group.

Staalsoe and rest of the Black Bears are ecstatic to be playing again this spring.

“I’m very excited to finally get out there and play again after our 2020 fall season got canceled. I feel very confident that I’m going to have the best season i’ve had so far. I feel mentally and physically prepared to go out there this spring and compete with my family on the field.”

Staalsoe might feel nostalgic about a spring season as he is a native of Copenhagen, Denmark, where American football is normally played during the spring and summer months to avoid conflict with soccer. The foreign lineman continues the rapidly growing tradition of Danish linemen infiltrating college football’s locker rooms. Staalsoe’s large build at 6’3″ and 305 pounds, and unusual quickness, give him similar traits to Danish offensive line Hjalte Froholdt, a former New England Patriots draft pick and currently with the Houston Texans. After a redshirt season his first year on campus, Staalsoe started all 12 games at left guard for the 2019 Back Bears.

Matthias Staalsoe quickly advanced to Team Denmark

Staalsoe on his 2019 season:

“It was exciting to get to start as a sophomore in a division 1 program. This was a goal of mine ever since I started playing the sport. It took a lot of adjustment as college ball is way more advanced than high school and understanding what you are doing and when is very important.”

New head coach Nick Charlton led the Black Bears to a 6-6 record in the Colonial Athletic Association one of the best conferences in FCS. A conference that has produced many NFL players with names such as Joe Flacco, Tim Hightower, and Nasir Adderley. The Danish national team lineman has a goal of being the next great NFL player from the CAA:

“The end goal is the NFL, however I still have years in college to finish, so my focus right now is to be the best version of myself for my team, and go chase some conference titles and an FCS championship.”

After playing soccer for as a child, Matthias Staalsoe’s American football journey began after he saw the NFL on TV for the first time. As soon as he saw the strange sport the big kid knew he wanted to be a part of it. It didn’t take long for Staalsoe to find a team.

“Discovered my club team online after watching football on tv and wanting to play it.”

Matthias Staalsoe hitting the bag with the Copenhagen Tomahawks Photo: Copenhagen Tomahawks

After only two years of football experience playing for the Copenhagen Tomahawks, Staalsoe and his coaches realized his massive potential. Youth coaches from all around his home country couldn’t ignore the dominant lineman for long, as he was quickly given a roster spot on Denmark’s U19 National team. The praise and enjoyment of the game was a confidence builder for Staalsoe, who decided to go all in on football:

“My size and strength made me feel like I was a good fit for the sport.”

The former soccer player’s athletic measurables and rapid rise within the Danish youth football scene captured the attention of former German NFL player Bjoern Werner and his Gridiron Imports service. Werner connected Staalsoe with a foreign exchange student program which gave the young lineman a chance to play high school football in the United States.

The Danish national team member jumped at the chance to join Taft High School in Connecticut. Taft was a luxurious private boarding school with rigorous academic standards.   Although it seemed cushy from the outside, the Taft football team was tough.  Staalsoe had some adjusting to do as a foreign exchange student joining a new school and a new demanding culture surrounding the game he loved.

“It was different and much more focused, more practices a week and more emphasis on the details”

Matthias Staalsoe #67 with Taft Highs School teammates Photo: Tavis Wang

After high school and considering a few different college football options, Staalsoe decided to stay in the northeastern part of the United States, committing to the University of Maine. A key factor in Staalsoe’s decision was that the Black Bears program gave him the opportunity to prove himself on the biggest stage possible.

“I chose Maine because I felt that was my best option competition wise.

Look out for Staalsoe on March 6th as his University of Maine Black Bears take on the Delaware Blue Hens to kickoff their spring season. Staalsoe is one of many international American football players suiting up for this spring at various levels of college football. Look for him to play well and continue the tradition of Danish dominance in the trenches.

Alex Malchow
Alex is a former professional American football player who is now studying in London. His goal writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and players and sharing different football stories from across the globe.
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