Steady as she goes for Cardenas

One of the top returning wideouts in the California JUCO ranks in 2008 will be Santa Ana WR Matt Cardenas (6-1, 195). He's a steady performer who quietly had a huge season for the Dons last fall. caught up with the big-play wideout and he updated us on recruiting as well as what he focuses on when he's working against a defense.

"I'm focused on always getting open obviously, but I'm really looking at the whole picture back there in the secondary," Cardenas told recently. "If they have a safety over top, me and my quarterback have to be on the same page so we can know what we want to do against them. It's little stuff like that that will make the difference on a play.

"I mean it's all about being precise and making plays when we have the chance."

Cardenas made plays in 2007, that's for sure.

He finished the season with 44 receptions for over 1,000 yards and 14 touchdowns and was named First Team All-Conference as a wideout and Second Team All-Conference for his kick return duties while also being named the Dons' Offensive Player of the Year.

"I had a lot of fun last year, but this year I want to help us get to the playoffs," Cardenas said. "Personal goals are nice, but if you focus on the team goals you'll be happy with the wins and you'll still get your stats and your goals as well."

Cardenas prepped at El Dorado High School in Placentia, California and was a standout on his football team, receiving All-League and All-State honors before he left.

However, the concentration he displayed on the football field wasn't matched in the classroom.

"I had a few schools looking at me, but my grades weren't good enough," Cardenas said, with a hint of regret in his voice. "It's the same old story you hear from guys. I just didn't focus on the right things while I was there. I was young and dumb and I was lazy.

"It was a tough lesson to learn, but I wouldn't give up my time here at Santa Ana for anything."

With his grades back to where they need to be, Cardenas has started to get some early looks from schools in the Pac 10.

"My coaches told me that Arizona State, Oregon and Oregon State have all been calling them and asking about me," Cardenas said. "We're getting them film and they said they were pretty interested in what I can bring to the table.

"I'm pretty much open to anyone who wants to recruit me, but I'm a California kid so hearing from the Pac 10 teams is pretty special."

Cardenas has been working hard this offseason, focusing on his speed and his strength.

"Right now I run in the 4.5's, but I'm trying to get down into the 4.4's this spring," Cardenas said. "I'm also trying to get stronger and work on my routes and setting up DBs a little more.

"If you're not working hard in the offseason, then you'll pay for it during the season and I want to finish my career here on as high a note as possible."

Cardenas will finish his two-year degree in December and he'll have three years to play two following the 2008 season.

We'll continue to track Cardenas' progress over the coming weeks and months and update things as they change.

Matt Cardenas Scout Profile

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