Zach Sudfeld can spot a Galas brother from a mile away.
“I played against his brother (Dominic) in high school so I kind of knew a little bit about them already before I met Matt,” said Sudfeld, who played for Modesto (Calif.) Christian High against the Galas brothers’ (Dominic and Matt) Modesto Central Catholic High. “First time I saw Matt, I just thought, ‘Yeah, that’s a Galas brother.’ You can tell by the way they act, how they dress.”
There is definitely a Galas look according to Sudfeld.
“They are cowboys,” said Sudfeld, the Nevada Wolf Pack tight end who now rooms Matt, a Wolf Pack center. “They are just tough, hard-nosed guys. He (Matt) wears the boots, the whole look. That’s just them.”
A typical Matt Galas moment?
“He’ll just disappear one day and I won’t have any idea where he is,” Sudfeld said. “He doesn’t say much anyway so I never know where he is or what he‘s doing. But then he’ll come back at the end of the day, wearing all his fishing stuff, the waders, everything. And he’ll just say, ‘I went fishing.’”
The long, lean six-foot-7 Sudfeld is more of the beach boy, surfer dude type. The 6-foot-1, stocky Galas is your basic outdoors, hunting and fisherman type.
“He loves that stuff, the hunting and the fishing,” Sudfeld said. “He’ll just go off by himself without telling anyone and disappear for a day.”
That tough, hard-nosed cowboy who loves to go off by himself in the great outdoors will likely be the Wolf Pack’s starting center this season.
“It’s important that I get as much work in as possible,” said Galas, who got into just two games a year ago (against New Mexico and Louisiana Tech) as a red-shirt freshman. “Everything I experience makes me better. It’s just a lot of hard work.”
That is exactly how Galas likes it.
“My dad always taught us from Day I that it’s not important to be the biggest guy out there,” Galas said. “If you give great effort and have great work habits, you’ll play somewhere.”
Hard work is a Galas family tradition. Father Tim was an offensive lineman for California from 1979-82 and overcame an ankle injury early in his career and neck surgery in the middle of his career to start for the Bears.
Dominic is also an offensive lineman for Cal but he won’t be on the field when the Wolf Pack opens its season in Berkeley on Sept. 1. Dominic, who missed all of spring ball with a shoulder injury, tore a pectoral muscle in July while lifting weights and isn’t expected to play until at least the middle of October.
Galas wears No. 65 for the Wolf Pack, the same number his father wore and brother now wears at Cal.
“It doesn’t matter what number you are,” Tim Galas told the Modesto Bee last year. “You make the number.”
Matt is hoping to make himself into the Wolf Pack’s starting center on Sept. 1. Red-shirt freshman Connor Talbott is also competing for the job.
“Stepping into a new role, it’s kind of a little nerve-wracking,” Galas said. “It kind of hits you because everything is kind of happening quickly. Last year I knew I wasn’t going to play so it was a lot different. I’d just come out and do my work. Now I have a chance to play so I have to have a new mentality in practice, lifting weights, in everything I do.”
Jeff Meads started the Pack’s first three games at center a year ago before giving way to Jordan Mudge the last 10 games. Galas hopes to become just the sixth center (after Dominic Green, Jimmy Wadhams, Ken Ackerman, Meads and Mudge) to start on a regular basis for the Pack since head coach Chris Ault implemented the pistol offense in 2005.
“He’ll give you a fight every time he’s in the ring,” Ault said.
That’s the thing that the Pack coaches, as well as his teammates, love about Galas right now — his work ethic and willingness to compete.
“Galas is a hard-working kid,” senior tackle Jeff Nady said. “That’s not a kid you have to jump on as a senior to get him to work harder.”
“You don’t have to be the best athlete there (at center),” Ault said. “But you have to be out there competing on every play. You have to fight on every play and that’s what Matt does.”
That’s just the cowboy in him coming out.
“He’s a tough hombre in the middle,” Wolf Pack offensive line coach Darren Hiller said. “He’s a pit bull in there. He’s never going to stop fighting.”
When you will likely be one of the smallest lineman on the field every Saturday, you better be willing to fight, Galas said. You make the numbers, after all, the numbers don’t make you.
“I’ve been hearing that my whole life, that I’m too small, not strong enough to play,” said Galas, who was also a standout wrestler at Central Catholic. “But I don’t worry about my size. I’m big enough to play. It’s not about that anyway. It’s about strength and technique and knowing the offense and those are things I can continue to work on and improve.”
A lack of height isn’t necessarily a disadvantage at center, Hiller said.
“God didn’t bless him with height,” Hiller said. “But low man wins in this game.”
Hiller is a big fan of his cowboy pit bull of a center.
“He’s out there playing with a chip on his shoulder,” Hiller said. “He’s not 6-foot-4. He’s not the most physical guy. But he’ll compete with anyone.”
The center is sort of the quarterback of the offensive line, making the calls and making sure everyone is lined up correctly. And in the pistol offense the center is also asked to make about 75-90 perfect passes back to the quarterback.
“The center position is the heart of the pistol,” Ault said. “That snap is critical.”
“We ask our centers to do a lot,” Hiller said. “We’ll pull them. We have them block the nose guard. We ask all our offensive linemen to be an all-around player. But, in the middle, the main thing you have to be is tenacious and Matt is that.”
The sophomore Galas, now in his third season in the Pack program, knows what he needs to do.
“As the center you have to know the pistol as well as anyone,” Galas said. “You have to know what everybody is doing on every play.
“As the center you have to anchor the line. I’m lucky because I have a lot of veterans around me. I’m stepping into a new role but those guys are a great help to me if I need it.”
Galas, who has yet to start a Division I game, will be the Pack’s least experienced starter on an offensive line that includes seniors Nady, Chris Barker and Alex Pinto and junior Joel Bitonio.
“It’s awesome playing with those guys,” Galas said. “I wish I could have played with them my whole time here. It’s a privilege to play with them.”