Matthews Working For Offers

Ricardo Matthews started his sophomore season at Jacksonville (Fla.) Parker High School. He was focused on having a big junior season on the defensive side of the ball. That didn't happen.

"We played Mandarin in the spring last year and I had a lot of tackles and a fumble recovery," Matthews said. "I was ready. But then me and my old coach had some differences. He wasn't too fond of me I guess. We were in the weight room and I was doing squats with a neck brace. He wanted to see us do them without it. Some things were said and he decided not to play me (on defense). I switched to offense and played fullback and tight end. I had 318 yards and five touchdowns running but I was mainly used as a blocker."

Matthews, now 6-2 1/2 and 260, welcomed a new coaching staff with open arms after the season. "I get along really well with the new staff and although I really started to like playing tight end I know that my future is on defense. That's where I'm playing now."

Matthews, who carries a 3.2 GPA and an 820 SAT score, said he's excited to see what he can do on that side of the ball as a senior. "I'm way faster than the offensive tackles I'm going up against," he said. "I'm stronger than most guys too. I put up 380 (bench press). I use that speed and strength to my advantage. I'm gonna have a big year."

The talented defender, who turned in a 33-inch vertical jump and broad-jumped 8-11 at the Combine back in the spring, also wrestles and throws the shot put (52) and discus (150) during track season. He's also a 6-1 high-jumper. Those are more reasons why he's got a chance to emerge as one of the state's top defensive end prospects.

"I didn't get a chance to go to any camps because of the money situation," he said. "I had to work all summer. The only offer I know of right now is Temple. My coach said if I take care of business on the field this year that'll take care of itself. I got calls (in May) from a bunch of schools -- the Gators, Duke, North Carolina, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Indiana, and Illinois. They all have been sending handwritten mail this summer and all of them pretty much say the same thing -- they wanna see a couple games of me playing defensive end before they offer."

Matthews is confident he'll play well enough to earn those offers. And I'm not about to disagree with him.

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