Matthews ready to get on the field at Vanderbilt
Jordan Matthews has been preparing for most of his life for his opportunity to play for the Vanderbilt Commodores in the Southeastern Conference every Saturday during the fall.
Matthews, a former Madison Academy star wide receiver, spent the early part of his summer vacation making sure he was in great shape for the day he reported to Vanderbilt last week.
The 6-foot-4, 190-pound Matthews, a Class 3A All-State selection, helped lead Madison Academy to a school record 12 wins last fall.
Vanderbilt enters the 2010 season with little depth at receiver and the Commodores will be counting on some young players – including Matthews – to step up immediately to help offensively.
“I have a chance to play right away,” Matthews said. “If I go in and get the job done, I’ll have that chance. It all boils down to how hard I work on the practice field.”
Known for his dedication and work ethic, Matthews is ready to see his dream of playing college football come to reality.
“Being able to put on that jersey and walk out through that smoke will be huge. It’ll be one of those experiences that I will remember for a lifetime. I’ll be able to tell my kids and my grandkids one day.”
Matthews moved to Nashville last week and has been going through off-season workouts with the Commodore players as he becomes acclimated to the speed of Southeastern Conference football.
“It’s pretty exciting right now,” Matthews said. “For the first time, I’m actually living something that I’ve always dreamed about. I’ve wanted to play football for Vanderbilt since the eighth grade.
“At the same time, I know that the work isn’t done.”
Matthews has stayed in game shape by working out five days a week with Bob Jones players Collins Moore and Reggie Ragland, and Eric Cosby, who currently plays for the Alabama Vipers arena football team.
Every day, Matthews spends at least three hours working in the weight room and once a week he was fine-tuning his wide receiver skills with the help of Madison Academy graduate Stafford Booth, who will play baseball at Auburn.
Matthews was a key player for Madison Academy’s basketball team and could have entertained scholarship offers from some smaller schools. But football won out in the end.
“It wasn’t really me that made that decision between football and basketball,” Matthews said. “It was the colleges that made the decision for me. I think I’ll miss basketball a little bit. I still play basketball and I love it, but at the end of the day it’s all football for me.”
Matthews knew that football was in his future the day he came home and had a hand-written recruiting letter from Vanderbilt coaches.
“That was my first experience of being recruited by a college,” Matthews said. “When that happened, being recruited by a Division I school, I knew that was the way to go.”
If Vanderbilt is a step behind some of the top dogs in the Southeastern Conference, the school stands tall academically in the league. The school’s entrance standards are higher than some of the other SEC schools, but that only helped endear Vandy to Matthews and his family. He graduated from Madison Academy with a 3.9 grade point average and he scored 23 on his ACT test.
“I take my grades very serious,” Matthews said. “My mom and dad put a lot of importance on academics. That’s what made the Vanderbilt offer so good. They’ve got football along with the academics.”
And when Vanderbilt called, Matthews knew where he wanted to be this fall. The Commodores wrapped up their recruitment with a special Christmas present – a scholarship offer from head coach Bobby Johnson on Christmas eve.
“You can’t get a better Christmas present than that,” Matthews said. “I couldn’t even sleep because everything was just running through my mind: playing in big stadiums, putting on the black and gold. All that stuff was going through my mind.
“I definitely wanted to play in the SEC. Vanderbilt might not be one of the top teams in the SEC, but every week we get to go and compete against the best teams in the nation. If you want to be the best, you’ve got to play the best. We might not be the best right now, we have a chance to prove that we can be up there with the best in this conference.”
Now Matthews is ready for his chance every Saturday to play in the nation’s top conference.