The recruiting process is different for nearly every potential college football prospect each year. Some prospects catch the attention of recruiters at an early age and secure offers by the start of their junior years while a number of prospects will garner offers during the offseason prior to their senior years. However, some prospects emerge on the radar until after their senior year begins.
One prospect that falls into this category is Madison (Ala.) native Jordan Matthews. The 6-foot-3, 193-pound Madison Academy receiver caught 70 passes for 1,304 yards and 14 touchdowns during his junior year and now the talented athlete has a number of Southeastern Conference schools monitoring his progress and appears to be on the verge of receiving his first couple of offers.
"Things are going really good in recruiting," Matthews told VandySports.com on Wednesday. "The school that's highest on my list is Vanderbilt. I haven't gotten an offer yet but they're the team that I'm talking to the most about getting a scholarship to. Coach [Charlie] Fisher, their receivers coach, came to watch me during my second game and I visited Vanderbilt for the Mississippi State game a few weeks ago. I've taken multiple visits to Vanderbilt actually, even for things outside of football, so Vandy is definitely a place I'm interested in.
"Mississippi State is another school that is recruiting me and I'm going up there for a game when they play Houston. Duke, Auburn, North Carolina and Stanford are also some schools recruiting me."
Matthews says his most recent trip to Vanderbilt was a good one and proved to be informative as he was able to meet a number of prospects who are already committed to the school
"It was great, I got to meet all of the coaches. I usually only keep in contact with Coach [Robbie] Caldwell and Coach Fisher, and I was able to talk to Coach [Bobby] Johnson some when I did their camp in the summer, but I got to meet like Coach [Ted] Cain and all of the other coaches. It was also good because I got to meet and talk to some of the other players that are already committed up there like Nash Nance, the quarterback that's committed and Jerrell Priester. So it was good to talk to them and find out why they decided to go ahead and commit to Vanderbilt and stuff. So it was just a really good experience."
In addition to his eye-popping junior year, Matthews also impressed most of the schools recruiting him due to his camp performances. Matthews was one of the top overall campers during Vanderbilt's five camp periods this summer, catching nearly every pass in the Commodores last Senior Elite camp and showing increased speed and explosion coming out of his breaks.
"The Vanderbilt camp was a really good experience because the quarterbacks there were great and they were able to set me up well," Matthews said. "There was everyone watching, all of the coaches and I've wanted to go to Vanderbilt since I was in like the eighth grade, so I just wanted to go out there and do real well. I clocked out at a 4.5 in the forty, so that was a good start and then I just went out in the one-on-one's and knew that I couldn't drop a pass, so I just went out there and did my best and came out with a good camp. I felt that helped my recruiting a lot when it came to Vanderbilt.
"I also went to Auburn's camp and Mississippi State for a camp. I also went to Alabama for a 7-on-7 with my football team. Most of them told me they were going to follow me during my senior year. After every camp, I got to talk the head coach, they always wanted to talk to me. I got to talk to Coach [Dan] Mullen after the Mississippi State camp and he said he really liked me. I talked to Coach [Gene] Chizik after Auburn and then after Vanderbilt, I was talking to Coach Fisher and then Coach Johnson came up and I got to have a good conversation with Coach Johnson too. He's a really nice man, I like him a lot.
"So each camp went well and I'm glad that I was able to get the attention of some of the head coaches of these programs."
Though Matthews doesn't hold an offer, he already knows what he's looking for out of a school. He also has a good idea in terms of what type of degree he would like to pursue when he chooses a school.
"The biggest thing for me in picking a college would be somewhere that feels like a home," he said. "I want it to be like I have a family there. I don't want it to just be like I'm another person on campus, I want to be able to know everybody. I want to have a good relationship with the coaching staff and have a good relationship with the players on the other team. Just have a good overall college atmosphere and everything.
"Wherever I go, I'm probably going to study business. I want to study economics and get my MBA in business, so I will definitely be a business major."
In addition to his size and speed, Matthews also brings quick athleticism and leaping ability from his years of playing power forward on the Mustangs three-time state championship basketball team. He believes this lends to some of his best traits on the football field.
"I think one of my best strengths is being able to go up for the ball just because of my leaping ability that I've gained from playing basketball," Matthews said. "Also, I think my hands are a strength. My dad has worked with me and my brother back when he was playing and we always go out and catch about 100 balls a day no matter what. We also do fingertip push ups everything night just to strengthen our hands. And then just this year, I worked with my trainer, Andy McCoy, to help me with my speed. He's helped me a lot and get me down from like a 4.6-4.7 guy to a legitimate 4.5 and even 4.49, which I clocked out at when I was at Mississippi State.
"The biggest thing that I want to improve on is my stalk blocking, that's the biggest thing. It's easy to go out and catch balls, and go hard on plays when you know you're getting the ball, but I want to be able to go out on every single play and make a nice block for my teammates. That's the main thing I'm working on every single day in practice and in the games and stuff."
So far this season, Matthews has caught 27 passes for 473 yards and six touchdowns. He has also returned two punts for scores while leading the Mustangs to a 5-0 start and a spot in the Alabama state Top 10 rankings.
"Everybody's been doing their job and that's why we're undefeated right now. We've accomplished a lot. We broke into the Top 10 today and that's the first time we've been ranked since 2006, so being out of the polls for three years kind of got us hungry. It's good to see that some of the hardwork that we put in has shown up, but we know that our jobs not done and we've just got to keep it up and keep getting better.
"This weekend we play Colbert Heights. They're in our region and are 4-1 right now. They're really talented and it's going to be a big game this week."
Matthews carries a 3.9 GPA in the classroom and is a second cousin of legendary NFL receiver Jerry Rice.
He averaged 10.2 points and 8.5 rebounds per game on the hardwood this past winter.