Matthews: From no college offer to 2nd-round pick

Matthews: From no college offer to 2nd-round pick
May 16, 2014, 4:30 pm
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The Eagles moved up 12 spots in the second round to draft WR Jordan Matthews out of Vanderbilt. (AP)

Jordan Matthews, donning a gray Eagles snapback hat, stood at the NovaCare Complex podium very much at ease with the slew of reporters gathered in front of him following the first day of a three-day rookie minicamp.

Matthews, a wide receiver whom the Eagles moved up a dozen spots to snag with the 42nd overall pick in last week's draft, certainly didn't come off as a player with a chip on his shoulder.

But he assured those gathered that he did have one -- (like Marcus Smith) -- and that it's been there since high school.

"I feel like I'm the most competitive guy ever," Matthews said calmly, as though his claim was indisputable. "I like to compete in everything I do. I'm gonna try to eat healthier than you, go out and practice harder than you, try to stretch longer than you. ...

"In the NFL, everybody works hard, but I just try to give myself the extra edge."

His impressive collegiate career at Vanderbilt -- which included two first-team All-SEC honors in his junior and senior years -- backs up his claim, especially considering he came out of high school without an offer.
 
As a freshman, he caught 15 passes for 181 yards and four TDs. The next season, he garnered 41 catches, 778 yards and five scores. Junior year, he upped it to 94, 1,323 and eight.

Finally, in his senior year, he tallied 112 catches, 1,477 yards and seven TDs, also earning him a third-team All-American selection.

"We had to find him wherever he lined up," cornerback Jaylen Watkins, the Eagles' fourth-round pick out of Florida who played against Matthews in college, said.

Matthews left Vanderbilt the all-time SEC leader in career receptions (262) and yards (3,759). He ended up there only after another recruit decommitted.

"It wasn't like I was being looked over by some teams, I wasn't wanted by essentially anybody," Matthews said.

"I was kind of stuck in no man's land when it came to recruiting. I had bunch of big schools that liked me, but nobody had ever gone to Division I from my high school, so they were kind of hesitant to offer.

"And then small schools would come and see Auburn, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Alabama and those schools and thought, 'Oh, we don't think we'll be able to get him.' So they never offered."

It's that experience, Matthews said -- when a 6-foot-3 wideout from Madison Academy in northern Alabama almost missed out -- that drives him to prove every day that he belongs.

He's an avid film-watcher -- "I love watching different schemes" -- and describes himself as a "technician," always looking for ways to improve.

At the very least, he comes off as very coachable, which, combined with his status as the Eagles' top receiver pick in the draft, draws a natural comparison to how he might be able to fill the void left by departed Pro Bowler DeSean Jackson.

"I don't think there's any pressure. I'm a totally different player than DeSean Jackson," Matthews said. "He's a great player. I wish him all the best in Washington. But at the same time I got to be the best player that I can be.

"There's not much pressure for a guy when you got LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin and Nick Foles.

"I just gotta go in there and do my job and that's it. That's all I'm focused on."

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