Matt Wilhelm, 2017
Lorain’s Matt Wilhelm is celebrated as one of the most outstanding athletes in Elyria Catholic High School’s history. From there, his amazing football career just kept hitting new heights, including a college national championship and a Super Bowl victory.
Matt, who grew up in Lorain, graduated from Elyria Catholic in 1999. He was a three-year football varsity letterman, two-way starter and two-time Team MVP. Among numerous awards, he was selected for the All-Ohio First Team and named Lorain County Offensive MVP and Player of the Year. His football jersey No. 34 has been retired. In basketball, Matt was a four-year varsity letterman, two-time Team MVP, and led the Panthers into the Division III Sweet 16 as a senior.
Matt was recruited by The Ohio State University and accepted a full athletic scholarship to play football for the Buckeyes. There, he was a four-year letterman. He anchored the defense for three seasons, twice winning the Randy Gradishar Top Linebacker Award. He was named to the All-Big 10 First Team and was a consensus First Team All-American. Ohio State won the BCS National Championship in 2002. Matt had a memorable game with 11 tackles as the Buckeyes defeated the Miami Hurricanes 31-24 in double overtime in the Fiesta Bowl. It was hailed by many as the greatest game in college football history.
Drafted by the San Diego Chargers in 2003, Matt played eight seasons in the National Football League. He spent six seasons with the Chargers, four of those as a starting linebacker. Next came one season with the San Francisco 49ers, then Matt topped off his NFL career with a 2010 Super Bowl XLV win with the Green Bay Packers.
After the NFL, Matt turned to sports broadcasting in Cleveland. He is well-known as a football analyst for AM850 ESPN Cleveland WKNR radio and WEWS-TV 5.
Matt’s name itself is synonymous with high school football excellence thanks to the creation of the Matt Wilhelm Award in 2016. The trophy is presented annually to The Morning Journal Player of the Year.
Matt and his wife, Vanessa, have a son and a daughter and reside in Westlake.