Report Prepared By John Harris
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First three plays - lines up in different spot each play - X, then Z and then in the slot
0:41 Watch him “dig” out the DB on the run play with inside leverage, impressive
1:11 WOW, the burst after the catch, tears past four USC DBs
1:38 Plants outside foot and BOOM he’s left the DB in dust - creates yards of space
Matthews is rated as the third best WR on our board (as of January 8, 2014 - he’s No. 14) and many may not have seen him play. He’s Vanderbilt’s all-time leading receiver in nearly every single category that you can think of and then some. He’ll leave Vanderbilt holding plenty of SEC records at receiver as well and that was playing in an offense that didn’t throw the ball as much as you’d expect with a player of his talent.
Many things stand out about Matthews, but one thing that really hit me occurred in the opening game of the season vs. Ole Miss. Throughout the summer, Matthews received a ton of hype as one of the best players in the nation, not just the SEC. In fact, heading into said opener against Ole Miss, he was truly the only weapon Vanderbilt had on offense. Now, don’t get me wrong, the Commodores had some fine players, but without former WR mate Chris Boyd (suspended all year), Matthews was THE guy that could change the game. Vandy knew it. Ole Miss HAD to know it.
And, the Rebels couldn’t stop him.
He finished with ten catches for 178 yards and a touchdown. But, in the second half of that game, he was exhausted. He took an IV, came back in the game. He caught a key third catch with just over two minutes left, got drilled, threw up all over the field. He then came back four plays later and caught his tenth pass of the game on 4th and 18 for the biggest first down of the game. But, after Ole Miss had scored to take the lead, Matthews had a pass bounce off his hands that ended up in the hands of an Ole Miss DB. Matthews was distraught on the sideline; he thought he had cost his team the game. Yet, Ole Miss beats Vandy by three touchdowns if Matthews didn’t completely sell out all over that field in 95 degree heat.
Vanderbilt used him all over the field - Z, X, in the slot and even as a tight Y on occasion. Either way, he’s got scary athleticism, body control and explosiveness. He’s a lot like Houston Texans WR Deandre Hopkins was coming out of Clemson but Matthews is more polished in the finer things of the game. The WR class is LOAD-ED so there’s no telling where he’ll land, but an NFL team will get an NFL ready player on day one.