Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame 2023: Initially underrated, Matt Forte was invaluable at every level

Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame 2023: Initially underrated, Matt Forte was invaluable at every level
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Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of stories on the 2023 inductees into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. Induction ceremonies are July 29 in Natchitoches.

Recruiting services listed Matt Forte as a fullback coming out of Slidell High School. He would make his mark over four years at Tulane and 10 more in the NFL as a lead back.

To his former high school coach, Wayne Grubb, the letters next to his name didn’t matter.

“I always referred to him as a football player,” Grubb said. “He did other things like run track, but he was a football player.”

Forte — who rolled up more than 3,000 yards from scrimmage in high school, another 5,000 at Tulane and more than 14,000 in 10 NFL seasons — is part of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame’s 2023 induction class.

Grubb changed his offense right about the time Forte, who was underrated as a two-star prospect coming out of high school, arrived on his doorstep.

“We had run the Wing-T offense for about 16 years,” Grubbs said. “We had receivers coming in and had a quarterback who could throw the football, so we went to the spread and eventually the one-back.

“Matt was the featured point of the offense but he wasn’t the only one. Our offense was built around him. We ran draw plays, power plays, screens.”

In Forte’s junior season in 2002, the Tigers went undefeated and earned the No. 2 seed in the Class 5A playoffs. Slidell won two playoff games before losing to West Monroe in the quarterfinals.

Forte posted a pair of 1,000-yard rushing seasons with 31 touchdowns and caught 48 passes and five more TDs in his prep career, but still was underrated.

LSU showed interest, but then-head coach Nick Saban was signing just one back for the ’04 class — Jacob Hester.

Tulane was on Forte early and he committed to the Green Wave shortly after his high school football career ended in December 2003. He followed in the footsteps of his father, Gene, who was captain of the 1977 Green Wave squad.

As a freshman, Forte was the second-team running back. But when Jovon Jackson was injured in the eighth game, Forte got his chance and delivered.

He had 216 yards rushing and three touchdowns and added three catches for 67 yards and another score in a 45-31 win over Army.

Hurricane Katrina and an injury hampered Forte in 2005 and ’06, but he still had five 100-yard games in 2006 before a banner senior season in 2007.

He started piling up big numbers against Southeastern in the third game with 40 carries for a school-record 303 yards and five touchdowns.

The record lasted all of 28 days as Forte had 38 carries for 342 yards and four scores in a victory at SMU.

Forte went on to become the 11th player in FBS history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season.

His 361 carries, 2,127 yards, 23 rushing touchdowns and eight consecutive 100-yard games all remain school single-season records.

Forte also set Tulane career records with 4,265 yards rushing, 5,261 all-purpose yards, 39 rushing touchdowns and 44 total TDs.

The Chicago Bears took Forte with the 44th pick in the 2008 draft and he made a splash in his first game.

Starting against the Indianapolis Colts, he broke loose for a 50-yard touchdown run on his fourth career carry and went on to finish with 123 yards rushing.

“A lot of (college) coaches who came in to recruit Matt, they were worried about his speed,” Grubb said. “Against the Colts, he outran everybody in the secondary. That told me Matt could run with everybody in the NFL.”

Forte finished his rookie season with 1,236 yards rushing, 63 receptions, more than 1,700 yards from scrimmage and 12 total TDs.

Forte had five 1,000-yard seasons in eight seasons with the Bears. He had a career-best 1,339 yards in 2013, netting him a second Pro Bowl selection.

After rolling up 8,602 yards rushing and 45 TDs, Forte moved on to the New York Jets for two final seasons.

His proved to be a workhorse in his decade in the NFL. He had 2,356 carries for 9,796 yards and 68 TDs and had 554 catches for 4,672 yards and 21 scores.

He averaged 5.0 yards on 2,910 career touches.

In his NFL offseasons, Forte would come home to give back, first hosting camps at the place where his football career began, the Slidell Youth Football Association, and later at his high school alma mater.

In 2016, Forte hosted a youth camp and gave the school a $50,000 check to renovate its weight room.

“When he came, we surprised him,” current Slidell principal Larry Favre said. “After he presented us with the check, we presented him with his retired jersey.”

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About Mary Weyand 12339 Articles
Mary founded Scoop Tour with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research. With ample knowledge about the Automobile industry, she also contributes her knowledge for the Automobile section of the website.

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