While Rutgers looks to forget most of Saturday's 49-16 debacle at Michigan, walk-on receiver Vance Matthews returns home with special memories. Matthews knew his opportunity was on the way with other injuries at the X receiver position, and he did everything possible on the field Saturday.
Matthews picked up extra work because of injuries, and registered his first-career reception in front of a six-figure crowd.
"It's definitely what I've been practicing for," said Matthews, who caught an 18-yard pass from quarterback Chris Laviano. "I've definitely practiced first-team reps to be the guy, so I just stayed positive and kept my head on straight and didn't let anything affect me. I didn't let the environment get to me. I just played my game and didn't let anything affect me other than what's going on in the game."
Matthews became a popular teammate in training camp because of significant summer improvement. He did not get early opportunities behind star Leonte Carroo. That changes with injuries to Carroo and Carlton Agudosi.
"They do a good job of rotating us [in practice] even when guys are healthy," Matthews said. "I'm always in the rotation. It wasn't really a big thing. We kept rotating guys. Dontae [Owens] was rotating with us and Carlton when he was out there. We kept our rotation up."
From Lower Cape May (N.J.), Matthews may see a similar role against Nebraska.
"I'm not going to lie, it feels great," Matthews said on his first-career reception and opportunities moving forward. "I finally got it out of the way, but that's why I came here. I came here to play. I came here to play at the highest level. That's where we're at. ... The only thing to do is keep moving forward and keep practice and keep the strides up."