SOU’s Retzlaff named All-American
ASHLAND — Five seasons after his journey started, with a national championship, two title-game appearances and several school records in the bag, Matt Retzlaff's list of achievements as a member of the Southern Oregon University football team stretched one last time Tuesday.
Retzlaff, a 5-foot-10 receiver from Medford and recent resident heartbeat of SOU football, solidified his legacy with a selection to the AFCA-NAIA All-America second team, becoming the Raiders' third All-American receiver in the last five seasons. Prior to 2012, they hadn't produced any.
"He chose to come to Southern Oregon before we'd won a championship and he bought into the fact that we were going to win, have fun and be great," SOU head coach Craig Howard said. "We've had a long list of great receivers here in the last five or six years, but I think he might've been the best of the bunch."
Retzlaff, who was recently named a Frontier Conference all-star for the fourth year in a row, set SOU career records for receptions (247), receiving yards (3,373) and receiving touchdowns (40).
He missed two games in 2016 — a fact that likely kept him off the first team — but still put together his most prolific season statistically with 81 catches for 1,058 yards and 13 touchdowns in nine outings. He scored at least one touchdown in every game, went for 100-plus yards five times and ranked first in the NAIA in catches per game (nine) and fourth in receiving yards per game (117.6).
"Every fan could see what he did on the field," Howard said. "But the things he did that only his coaches and teammates could see are what separated him. He's a great leader and a man of character, and he's going to be a success in life."
After graduating in 2012 from South Medford High, Retzlaff followed his brother, Ryan — another all-star receiver — to SOU and redshirted his first season. In 2013, his first year in uniform, he led all Frontier Conference players with 19 touchdowns.
He was a catalyst when SOU made its postseason runs the next two years, totaling 48 catches for 692 yards and six TDs in eight playoff games. In the final three rounds of the playoffs in 2014 and '15, he averaged 103 receiving yards per game.
His reputation as a big-game performer gained traction against SOU's in-state rival, Eastern Oregon. In his first matchup with the Mountaineers, Retzlaff tied SOU's single-game record with five touchdowns. In his career against the Mounties, he recorded 52 catches for 756 yards and 14 scores.
Retzlaff will graduate with a degree in business administration.