Sussex County Sports Blog

By Dan Cleary

5/2/2016 - Chiefs Invite Vernon's Soltes To Camp

   It was a balmy opening night at Robeson Stadium in East Orange almost six years ago when people outside our area saw what Matt Soltes could do.
   The Vernon senior quarterback was getting ready for his final season and in a game against one of the top teams from Essex County he made one of the most incredible plays I’ve seen, considering the top-notch competition.
   The athletic 6-foot-3 senior took the shotgun snap at the Vernon 48, waited a second, and then ran up the middle and proceeded to outrun a very fast EO defense before diving into the end zone for an electrifying 52-yard score.
   It was one of those “wow moments” that even impressed the EO fans who were used to seeing athletic plays, but none like that.
   I always knew Soltes was talented, but after that night and watching him the rest of his senior year, which included being named the North MVP in the North-South Game in June at Kean., I knew he was something special.
   Now Soltes will have the opportunity to impress another group from outside the area---the Kansas City Chiefs.
   The former East Stroudsburg University quarterback has accepted a rookie minicamp tryout invitation from the Chiefs and will participate in the team's three-day camp from Saturday through Monday (May 7-9).
   No surprise there.
   Soltes joins former ESU All-American, and my old teammate, Vernon star Dan Murray in the NFL. Murray was drafted out of ESU in 1988 by the Buffalo Bills.
   That is pretty cool.
   “It is exciting,” said Soltes who is back home in Vernon until he takes off Friday night. “I got the call last night (Sunday) at 6:30 and I was shell shocked. It was something you can’t prepare for because it is something I have dreamed about since the first time I put on pads.
   “You look at all the hard work you put in and it has paid off,” added the former Mugs Media Player of the Year. “I worked my butt off in high school to get ready for college and I worked hard in college to get a chance to play in the NFL.”
   Soltes knows his chances off making the team that features established NFL veteran Alex Smith, backups Tyler Bray and Aaron Murray as well as recent fifth-round pick Kevin Hogan of Stanford will be tough but he wants to get a chance to be noticed.
   And believe me, folks, the Chiefs will notice him in some shape or form. Coach Andy Reid is a quarterbacks guru so for the organization to invite Soltes out of Division II East Stroudsburg speaks volumes.
   Soltes finished his senior season tied for fourth in the national voting for the Harlon Hill Trophy, awarded to the top player in NCAA Division II football. He was named Football Gazette All-America third team, PSAC East Offensive Athlete of the Year, D2CCA Super Region 1 Offensive Player of the Year and Football Gazette SR1 Co-Offensive Player of the Year.
   He was 277-for-486 for 3,900 yards, 41 TD and 11 interceptions and 78 carries for 210 yards and a TD as a senior - ranking 2nd in DII in passing yards per game (354.5 ypg) and passing TD (41) and 3rd in total offense per game (373.6 ypg).
   In his career, Soltes set PSAC records for total offense per game (351.0 - 2nd in DII history) and passing yards per game (313.6 - 7th in DII history). He is tied for 2nd in DII history in career TD passes (126) behind only ESU‘s Jimmy Terwilliger (148), the 2005 Harlon Hill recipient.
   Soltes ranks 3rd in PSAC history in career TD responsible for (133). He is 2nd in PSAC history in both career total offense (14,038 - 6th in DII history) and career passing yards (12,544 - 10th in DII history), trailing only Terwilliger in both categories. He is also 4th in PSAC history in rushing yards by a quarterback (1,494).
   Soltes holds five DII records - career TD passes per game (3.15), career games with 5+ TD passes (13), games with 500 yards total offense (6), games with 600 yards total offense (2) and is the 5th QB in DII history with 3,000 yards total offense in all four seasons of his career.
   He is the 4th DII QB to throw for 12,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in his career.
   As a redshirt freshman in 2012, Soltes set an NCAA all-division freshman record with 666 yards of total offense (535 yards passing, 131 rushing) in a 45-37 win at LIU Post in his fifth career start.
    He is one of two quarterbacks in NCAA football history to throw for 500 yards and rush for 100 yards in a single game.
   Not a shabby resume, huh?
   But what is not listed is what a good kid Soltes is and always has been. His father, Andy, was his first coach on the youth level, and played for Denny Douds at East Stroudsburg back in the early 1980s
   The entire Soltes clan is as good as it gets. Andy Jr. was also a QB at Vernon and a couple years after Matt graduated, the youngest Soltes, Tyler, took over the reins at QB and is currently at ESU.
   Just a great family that I have had the chance to get to know a little over the years.
   A lot of players invited to a NFL camp know only winning, and Soltes was certainly successful at ESU. But he learned how to play through losing when he was the QB at Vernon.
    In two years as a starter the Vikings were 5-15, including a 4-6 mark his senior year when the Vikes just missed the playoffs.
   He got the starting job late his sophomore year and led the Vikings to a win over Lenape Valley in the final year of the Sussex County Interscholastic League.
   When the SCIL was broken up the Vikings found themselves in the large division of the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference and had to play the likes of Roxbury, Randolph, Delbarton, Morristown and West Morris, resulting in a 1-9 junior campaign.
   “It actually helped me a lot,” said Soltes. “It prepared me to be mentally tough and it built character. You never want to have that feeling again.”
   Soltes also credited Vernon coach Chuck Tepper saying, “He was a great coach and he is a great guy. We hit a bad patch my junior year as a team but he helped us fight through it and we were better for it.”
   I always knew Soltes was going to special. He could do it all on the football field and he has a future as a punter if he wants to explore that.
   He was also terrific at safety as well and the only kid I have seen since to come close to flinging the ball like Soltes was Sonny Abramson of Pope John who will play at University of Virginia next year.
   In fact, Soltes was being recruited by D-I schools and I have been told by objective sources that he outplayed future Rutgers QB and Don Bosco star Gary Nova at several combines.
   But he went to ESU and he is sure glad he did.
   So I wish him the best this weekend. The odds are stacked against him but that won’t stop him. And no matter happens with the Chiefs this will not be the last we hear from Matt Soltes.
   That’s it for now see you on the sidelines.
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11/8/2011
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10/31/2011
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10/25/2011
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10/13/2011
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9/27/2011
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9/19/2011
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9/11/2011
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8/12/2011
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8/3/2011
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7/24/2011
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7/14/2011
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7/8/2011
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6/13/2011
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6/4/2011
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5/23/2011
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5/15/2011
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5/9/2011
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5/6/2011
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4/29/2011
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4/10/2011
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4/1/2011
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3/25/2011
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3/16/2011
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3/9/2011
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3/5/2011
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2/17/2011
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1/18/2011
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3/22/2010
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10/7/2009
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9/29/2009
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9/1/2009
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8/23/2009
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8/9/2009
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8/2/2009
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7/24/2009
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7/14/2009
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6/28/2009
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6/2/2009
Newton Makes Disque Proud


5/19/2009
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5/12/2009
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5/1/2009
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4/19/2009
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4/11/2009
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4/2/2009
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3/21/2009
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3/12/2009
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3/3/2009
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2/25/2009
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2/17/2009
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2/11/2009
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2/4/2009
Expanded Brackets A Home Run


1/27/2009
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1/20/2009
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1/13/2009
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1/5/2009
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12/21/2008
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12/7/2008
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11/28/2008
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11/20/2008
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11/14/2008
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11/8/2008
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10/31/2008
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10/23/2008
Rangers Riding High


10/16/2008
Old Lion Still Roaring


10/9/2008
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10/3/2008
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9/25/2008
NJSIAA Lacks Direction


9/17/2008
High Point's Keur Happy To Be Back


9/11/2008
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9/1/2008
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8/25/2008
State Plan Needs Second Look


8/14/2008
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8/11/2008
Martinek Gives Me Knight Fever


8/6/2008
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7/30/2008
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7/21/2008
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7/13/2008
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7/6/2008
Wolf, Nottle Find Winning Ways


6/29/2008
Are You Ready For The Summer?


6/22/2008
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6/15/2008
A Special Thanks to Dad


6/7/2008
Defense Never Rests


5/30/2008
Kittatinny Crew Saves the Day


5/23/2008
Bello makes right call


5/16/2008
Great to be back at Festival


5/9/2008
Softball Should Have Tourney


4/25/2008
Realignment Could Be Done Deal


4/18/2008
SCIL Teams Born to Score Runs


4/11/2008
SCIL Home to Top Hurlers


4/4/2008
Lacrosse Teams Riding the Wave


3/28/2008
Wallkill's VanZile Set to Retire (Exclusive to MugsMedia.com)


3/21/2008
A Little "Mercy" for Football Teams


3/14/2008
Valenti's Title Caps Banner Year for SCIL Wrestling


3/7/2008
Taking a Hard Look at the New Transfer Rules


2/29/2008
Giving SCIL Basketball a Boost


2/22/2008
Rasslin' to the Top... Finally


2/15/2008
Handicapping the Festival


2/8/2008
The Power of Power Points


1/31/2008
SCIL Adopts Innovative Soccer Plan (Exclusive to MugsMedia.com)


1/25/2008
On the Track to an Elite Program


1/18/2008
Adding Up the Numbers


1/11/2008
Dominating the Paint


1/3/2008
Bowling with the Knights


12/27/2007
Playing Games Over the Holidays


12/20/2007
The Mitchell Report Hits Home


12/13/2007
Are You Ready for the Winter?


12/6/2007
Reform Comes Slowly to New Jersey High School Sports


11/28/2007
Handing Out the Golden Statues


11/21/2007
Time for Change in NJ High School Sports


11/14/2007
Going a Little Extra


11/7/2007
The Single-Sport Athlete Dilemma


10/31/2007
Friday Night Lights


10/23/2007
Kicking Around Re-alignment


10/1/2007
I'm baaaack...


3/17/204
Great Run For Braves