Newnan, Ga.— One of the top safety prospects in the country and an early commitment to the Georgia Bulldogs, four-star Tray Matthews was on the Auburn campus Friday along with his family to get an inside look at the Tigers. Making his first trip to the Plains, Matthews said he enjoyed the experience and having the opportunity to get to know more about the program.
"It felt great coming over here," Matthews said. "The coaches treated me well. Academics came first out of anything. I swear it was almost identical to Georgia. I loved it down here.
"Everybody is just fun to be around," he added. "Me and Trooper Taylor were laughing the whole time I was up here. Coach Gene Chizik is a great man, spiritual man also, like Mark Richt. I loved every moment up here."
Admitting he wasn't sure what to expect from Auburn, Matthews said that he enjoyed getting to learn more about the vet school on campus as well as sitting down and talking with Chizik face to face.
"It was my first time," Matthews said. "I have never been to a game. It was great. I'm going to definitely come back. My dad is going to come next time. He couldn't come, he had to work. My sister loved it and my momma loved it too.
"I didn't know Gene Chizik was so big. He's big. He looks like he works out. He's real family oriented and a real funny guy. We were talking a lot in there and it seemed like he was part of the family too. I loved it down here."
A commitment to Georgia since last August, when he chose the Bulldogs over Auburn, Alabama, and dozens of other schools, Matthews said he just felt like he needed to see what else was out there. Now that he's seen Auburn, he said the Tigers are definitely in the picture for him.
"I felt like it was something I had to do," Matthews said. "Everybody didn't want me to go to Auburn, trust me. Everybody from Newnan loves Georgia. Georgia and Auburn have a little rivalry. It was a lot of pressure but I had to go ahead and make the decision because I had always heard how good Auburn is. Coach Trooper has done a great job recruiting me. He just kept getting on me and worrying me about coming so I had to make the trip."
Now that he's seen both Auburn and Georgia, Matthews said it's going to be difficult to distinguish between the two after seeing what both programs have to offer.
"It was almost identical," Matthews said of Auburn and Georgia. "That's what I told Coach Chizik. He kind of reminds me of Mark Richt how they were talking to my mom and hugging us and just talking to us about everything. And the people, when I was walking around people were waving and telling me ‘what's up, Tray.' It was great."
Saying that he's still planning to visit Alabama as well, Matthews said at the moment he's still a Georgia commitment, but with future trips planned to Auburn he's not sure if that will stay the same in the end.
"It's hard," Matthews said of his decision. "This whole recruiting process is hard. I didn't know it was going to be like this. Georgia was always No. 1 on top, but I just didn't know Auburn was like this.
"Auburn is definitely in the hunt," he added. "I love it down here. My family loves it down here too. I hate to say it, but I'm thinking about Auburn too. I'm a Georgia commit still, though, but I'm going to come back down here a couple of more times. Auburn is great. The campus is nice. It's under construction but that's always a good thing. They're rebuilding everything and making it nicer."
As a junior he made 84 tackles and added four interceptions for the Cougars in 2011.