TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Maumee alum Matt LaVrar grew up on the battlegrounds of Ohio State-Michigan rivalry. So naturally, deciding where he would play college football was centered around it.
"Originally I was an Ohio State fan, then as high school went on and I saw I was being recruited by various programs, it really opened it up," LaVrar said. "It came down between Ohio State and Michigan as my final two."
LaVrar chose Ohio State, and memories of tackling Charles Woodson and sacking Tom Brady come to mind to this day.
"You see Charles and he was a great player in high school, too. I got to play against him in high school as well as in college, and he was a great player, so fast and athletic. So it was great to make a couple tackles on him in the game," said LaVrar.
LaVrar said the Tom Brady sack wasn't really anything special, at the time.
"At the time it's just kind of a routine play. I mean, you get a sack against Michigan and it's a big deal, but at the time it's kind of mundane," he said. "Then you look at it years down the road and you're going, 'That was Tom Brady, one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the game', and then you have Keith Jackson calling the game, one of the greatest announcers of all time, he's saying your name for sacking Tom Brady. So it's kind of special, looking back."
1998 was a great year for LaVrar. Not only did he sack Tom Brady, it was also the only year in his Buckeye career where Ohio State got the win over Michigan, earning him a pair of gold pants.
"Well I know back in the '90s they were hard to come by, unfortunately," LaVrar said. "I know Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer have been kind of passing them out like candy lately, winning all these games, but they were tough to come by back then. It's kind of special to have one from back in the '90s."
LaVrar is now the senior vice president of a field inspection services company. He's also a husband and a father to three girls.
The Rivalry is a family affair.
"Typically we'll just gather the whole family around and we'll watch the games together," he said.
He says the older his children get, the more they appreciate The Rivalry, and the fact that their dad used to play in it.
"I think as the kids get older they appreciate it a little more," LaVrar said. "They kind of see how big it is and understand it better, especially The Rivalry. My youngest one, without any prompting, has just always hated Michigan for some reason. It's been great."