Matthews Is Ready To Make History

Highly touted defensive end signee Cliff Matthews was a special guest on this week's edition of GamecockAnthem Radio. Regarded as one of the top defensive line prospects in America coming out of high school, the 5-star rated player has already begun working out at USC and is hoping to help take the Gamecocks to new heights beginning this fall. Read inside for more.

GamecockAnthem Radio aired its' seventh show on 90.5 WUSC FM in Columbia this week. As the only radio show in the state of South Carolina that offers "All Gamecock talk, all the time," GamecockAnthem Radio is the perfect show to help USC fans get their Gamecock fix, especially during the summer months when football deprivation begins to set in. Be sure to tune in every Wednesday morning from 8-12 throughout the summer to hear great interviews like the one below and enjoy in depth discussion on South Carolina football, recruiting, baseball and much more. To learn more about GamecockAnthem Radio, click here: LINK

Interview with 2007 defensive end signee Cliff Matthews:

Question: First question for you, Cliff. I heard you've already taken the initiative and joined in on some of the team workouts down at USC. How are those going for you so far?

Answer: So far it's going pretty good for me. I want to make a big difference on defense, and getting in shape now is going to mean a lot later.

Question: A lot of the players have mentioned just how intense those workouts are under Mark Smith compared to what they're used to. So how big of an adjustment has it been for you thus far?

Answer: It's a real big difference, but I've been adjusting to it real well. I'm ready for whatever.

Question: I remember talking to you a few months ago, and you had set a target weight of 240 pounds that you wanted to reach before the fall. I know you've been working hard for the past several months here, so what is your weight up to now?

Answer: I've been back and forth between 240 and 235. I do a lot of running, and I also play basketball, so it's been kind of hard keeping a steady weight.

Question: Getting back to football here, USC obviously has some talented players at the defensive end position like Eric Norwood, Jordin Lindsey, Travian Robertson and those guys, but I know you're arriving at USC with intentions of seeing the field early and often. So what exactly have the South Carolina coaches told you about the possibility of making an impact this season?

Answer: They told me it's possible for me to start if I go hard in practice. They just want me to come up with the big plays and make a difference.

Question: Have any of the other defensive ends kind of shown you the ropes so far?

Answer: Oh yeah, I hang out with Eric and Travian. They basically tell me to come work hard everyday and good things will happen for you. I've been keeping that mentality in my mind.

Question: It's no secret that you were one of the top defensive end prospects in America last year, and I know that you can do some special things out there on the football field. Why don't you give our listeners a little taste of what they can expect from you this season. What strengths would you say you bring to the football field as a defensive end?

Answer: I have a real quick first step. I go hard every play, and you're definitely going to see a whole different defense this upcoming season.

Question: I hear that you're also very talented at the tight end position. Have the USC coaches given you an indication of whether you could see some action at tight end this year?

Answer: Yes sir, they say it's possible. First I have to master defensive end and then the next thing will come.

Question: With your explosiveness and versatility on the football field, is there any player that you tend to model your game after out there?

Answer: Julius Peppers and John Abraham.

Question: Okay, I've got a two part question for you, Cliff - When did you first start playing football, and when exactly did you realize that you wanted to pursue a future in football?

Answer: I started playing football around twelve years old, and I think it was around maybe tenth grade that I decided football was going to be my ticket. If it wasn't for football, I was going on a basketball scholarship somewhere. Hopefully one day football will be my money maker. Either way you can't go wrong.

Question: Did you always play defensive end or was there another position that you played growing up?

Answer: You may not believe this or not, but when I was younger I was always sort of taller than everybody else, but my first position that I went out for was halfback. Believe it or not, I was the man there until I started gaining weight so they moved me down on the line. Basically I played everything on the line (after that) on offense and defense.

Question: Do you think Coach Spurrier might give you a few carries back there in the backfield?

Answer: (Laughs) I don't think so. Not in this lifetime.

Question: I'm sure you're excited about taking your game to the next level this fall and competing against some of the best talent in the country in the SEC. With that in mind, what kind of personal goals have you set for yourself in your upcoming freshman season?

Answer: I want to break the freshman sack record. That's all I have right now, but I'm pretty sure more goals will come. Individually, that's one.

Cliff Matthews was recognized as the Sandlappers' defensive MVP in the 2006 Shrine Bowl.

Question: Okay, let's take a quick look back at the recruiting process for you. Obviously you could have gone to just about any school in the country, as you had offers from Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Auburn, Clemson, Virginia Tech and several others. But what was it about South Carolina that stood out to you in the end and helped you decide to commit to the Gamecocks last October?

Answer: Probably the opportunity to play early, and the fans are just crazy. The environment is just unbelievable. There's nothing like it.

Question: I heard that Coach Spurrier had a special one-on-one talk with you after the Gamecocks' narrow loss to Auburn early last season. What exactly did he talk to you about?

Answer: After the Auburn game, he told me that he was one defensive end away from winning that game. That coming from a coach like himself meant a lot to me. I've been ready to get on the field ever since that.

Question: With you being one of Carolina's earlier commitments in the 2007 recruiting class, was it special for you seeing how that class came together to become arguably the best class in the history of the South Carolina football program?

Answer: Oh yeah, it was interesting to see some of the players come along after I committed. I think I played a little role in that.

Question: I understand you've got a pretty talented teammate down there at Cheraw that's a rising senior this year in wide receiver Jaron Brown. I've talked to him a little bit already to do some recruiting updates, and he said that you've been working him hard to join you down there in Columbia. Is that right?

Answer: Oh yeah, I've been talking to Jaron and trying to tell him, ‘Why go anywhere else when you can be the man in your own state?' He's one of the best wide receivers I've ever seen, besides Sidney Rice coming out of high school. He's an impact player. When the game's on the line, that's who you should throw the ball to.

Question: I know you're also a standout on the basketball court. Have any of your fellow 2007 signees been able to keep up with you out there on the hardwood?

Answer: Yes sir, me and Trevor Deloach have been keeping in touch. He's coming on a basketball scholarship, so we've been keeping in contact. I spoke to Coach (Dave) Odom, and he told me that he'd give me a shot. That's all I can ask for is a shot.

Question: I hear that Weslye Saunders is pretty good at playing some basketball too. Have you guys talked about maybe matching up one-on-one?

Answer: Yes sir, he's a very good shooter for his size. We go at it. Me, I'm a big man. I play down low. I dunk on you and throw you to the ground. I'm an old school player, but he's a pretty good basketball player.

Question: Is playing both football and basketball something that you want to do your freshman year, or is that something you'll look to do more down the road?

Answer: It's something I plan on doing my first year if possible.

Question: Alright, I've just got a few more questions for you here, Cliff. Getting back to the upcoming football season, when you look at South Carolina's 2007 schedule, is there a certain game that stands out to you where you just say, ‘I can't wait to play against those guys'

Answer: I can't wait to play against the Georgia Bulldogs.

Question: I'm sure that game has a little extra significance to you. I know it pretty much came down to Georgia and South Carolina in the recruiting battle for your services, so what exactly does that game mean to you?

Answer: Well, it means a lot to me. I was at that game (last year), and it motivated me. I felt like I wanted to go out there and play to help them out. It just gets you pumped up, gets you ready to play.

Question: I remember up at the first day of the Shrine Bowl workouts, you put Clemson quarterback commitment Willy Korn on his back, and later you jokingly said that you just wanted to give him a little taste of what he'd be getting over the next four years. Being an in-state player, I'm sure you've grown up understanding the significance of the South Carolina-Clemson rivalry. So now that you're officially a Gamecock, what exactly does that rivalry game each November mean to you?

Answer: That's going to be one of the biggest games on our schedule. I'm looking forward to playing that game, and I'm looking forward to sticking to my word by sacking Willy Korn.

Question: I know a lot of times incoming freshmen are excited about picking out what jersey number they're going to wear in college. Do you have an idea of what jersey number you're going to be wearing this season?

Answer: I'm going to be wearing #83. That's my high school jersey number.

Question: Speaking of jerseys, what are your thoughts on South Carolina's new Under Armour uniforms that they'll be wearing this season?

Answer: They look real good. I like them a lot. I think we're getting a lot of Under Armour gear.

Question: I know you've seen first hand the excitement that's brewing in Columbia right now, Cliff. Everyone in South Carolina is excited about the direction of the Gamecock football program under Steve Spurrier and the potential to do things that have never been done before at USC like win an SEC Championship and possibly even contend for a national championship. How excited are you about coming into a situation like that where you can be a part of something special and help USC reach those goals?

Answer: I'm real excited about being a part of one of the best South Carolina teams in probably school history. I'm looking forward to playing, and I'm ready to make a difference on defense and go sack the quarterback.

Question: Being around the team workouts right now, I'm sure you've gotten a good feel for what the team's mindset is like heading into the 2007 season. Is this group really gearing up for a run at the SEC Championship?

Answer: Yes sir, we've been working hard in the weight room. Everything is just real intense to get us ready for what's coming at us. We're hoping to make history.

Question: I've just got one more question for you, Cliff. Obviously the Gamecock Nation is excited about you arriving in Columbia and seeing you on the field this fall. Is there any message you'd like to pass on to the South Carolina fans before you go?

Answer: Just get ready for the next big thing!

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