Matthews Brings Winning Mindset To USC

Have you ever finished in second place? One's reaction to second place is probably the most accurate way to divide the human race into two groups. There are some who are willing to accept second place. Then there are guys like 2007 Gamecock signee, Cliff Matthews. Read inside for full story.

Matthews has worked dilgently for three years for one thing - first place. Second place to Matthews represents nothing but the first loser. He's in the other group, as evidenced by his state championship winning performance in the shot put competition over the weekend.

"The last two years I came in second place. Third year's the charm," said Matthews, "It means a lot to me. It's my senior year, and it's how I wanted to go out - with a win."

In 2005 Matthews grit his teeth in 2nd place at the 2A Track and Field Championships in the shot put. Marcus Goode of Mid-Carolina, also a two sport stud (basketball), beat him by one and a half feet.

In 2006, though he broke the South Carolina state record in shot put at one point, he lost the 2A Championships by eight inches to his nemesis – Marcus Goode.

In 2007, he's no longer the first loser. Now Matthews is the 2A State Champion with a winning toss of 54 feet. Not only did Mathews finally reach the top of the mountain, he destroyed the competition by more than six feet.

Matthews is a gifted athlete, capable of playing multiple sports. However, when asked whether he had talked to Coach Curtis Frye about continuing shot put at USC, he replied, "I'm going to strictly focus on football and basketball at Carolina."

Cliff Matthews

The Cheraw, SC native is quick to say that basketball is his first love, but for those scared that the 5-star rated defensive end has been dedicating too much time to track or hoops, he calms the anxiety with a few words, "I'm lifting weights hard - doing performance drills and stuff."

As if the shot put challenge wasn't enough of an accomplishment, Matthews, who is now weighing in at a solid 240 pounds, seems to feed off of the challenges that await him at the next level. Talking about his new challenge where second place won't suffice, Matthews said, "I plan on playing early. They can expect an impact player on defense and a difference maker, especially on third and long. I plan on making at least twelve sacks to break the freshman sack record."

Gamecock fans have a lot to look forward to when Cliff Matthews is playing for USC. Like his soon-to-be coach, he has his sights set on only one thing - winning championships.

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