MADISON, Ala.(WHNT)-Another signing day is now in the books, but for every “can’t miss” prospect, there’s one who flies under the radar and into history.
Four years ago this week, Madison native Jordan Matthews signed with the only team that gave him a scholarship offer. Four years later he’s the SEC’s all-time leading receiver and a projected high-level NFL draft pick.
Surrounded by his parents and a few dozen classmates in the Madison Academy gymnasium, Matthews put pen to paper to become a Vanderbilt Commodore on February 3, 2010. But to say he would have become an elite NFL prospect would have sounded preposterous at the time. In 2010 Matthews was so unheralded that he couldn’t even get an offer from non-Division One schools like nearby Alabama A&M or UNA. Vandy coaches decided to take a chance on Matthews after seeing one of his highlight reels.
“Even though it was my only scholarship offer, I felt like that was the best opportunity for me,” said Matthews, who spoke with WHNT News 19 on Wednesday via Skype. “I never feel like its good to play with anger in your heart. Of course there were doubters and naysayers all along. But at the same time, once I finally got the opportunity I was so thankful for the opportunity that I said ‘I gotta forget that’, and just play with the joy and passion I have for the game.”
Jordan is now training in Arizona for the upcoming NFL draft. He recently broke both the all-time receiving yards and all-time receptions records in the Southeastern Conference, considered a virtual football factory for wide receiver talent in the pros. Matthews said the records are something he’ll think about later, and credits faith for keeping him hungry and grounded.
“The best role model in anyone’s life is Jesus Christ, he was the most humble leader of all, and I feel like that’s the way everybody should be. To achieve any level of success you gotta keep that humility.”
The recruiters who overlooked Matthews maybe should have looked at his bloodlines. He’s a cousin of NFL Hall of Famer Jerry Rice, considered by many to be the greatest wide receiver in football history.