January 4, 2013

Matthews offers predictions

SAN ANTONIO, Tex. - Newnan safety Tray Matthews is used to standing out.

As a player, the Rivals100 prospect starred on offense and defense in his senior year at Newnan and led his team on a deep playoff run.

Matthews has the ability to make plays on the football from his safety position, but he can also intimidate opposing ball carriers and pass catchers with his ability to deliver the big hit.

San Antonio is full of four and five star players at every position this week, but Matthews, who is confident in his ability, believes that playing with the nation's most elite talent is where he belongs.

"I think I fit in perfectly," said Matthews when asked about his experience at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. "I'm out here going 100 percent with all these boys going full speed, and I'm going full speed. That's what I love: going full tilt and contact. That is how these boys are out here and especially our running backs. Greg Bryant, Derrick Green, and Derrick Henry, those boys are some big running backs. I'm looking forward to the competition in the games. The wide receivers are great, and I'm just having a great time out here."

Coming from a solid Newnan program, Matthews is used to facing some of the best talent in the state in Georgia both in practice and Friday nights in the fall.

Through three practices in the Lone Star State, however, Georgia pledge will be the first to admit that the talent is at a different level this week.

"I think I've done pretty (well)," he said. "I come from a little small town in Newnan, and there is some great talent out there but not as much as there is here. Coming out here, I think I kind of proved myself a lot more and I'm ready to show my talents in the game."

When it comes to his expectations in the game, Matthews is setting his sights on doing big things once the game kicks off Saturday at 1 p.m. EST on NBC.

"Of course I'm looking forward to a win the most," said Matthews. "But for myself, I am looking for two picks and some boom (plays). I want to see the crowd go crazy. I want at least 10 tackles, a blocked punt, or a blocked field goal. I had eight blocked kicks at Newnan so I want to do something like that here and make something happen. That's my goal."

In addition to his exploits on the field, Matthews has also made a name for himself off the field as a social butterfly in the 2013 class.

The four-star defensive back has formed close friendships with a number of recruits and two of those prospect, Norcross running back Alvin Kamara and Auburn (Auburn, Ala.) linebacker Reuben Foster are top targets for the Bulldogs.

Matthews isn't at all hesitant to share his views on where he believes each of those stand at this point in their recruitment.

"I'll start off with Reuben," said Matthews. "Everybody knows his situation and what he has been through. He is pretty much thinking about Georgia, Washington, and Alabama, schools like that. He is going to take his official visit to Georgia in January and I'll already be at Georgia, so I'm going to host him around. That is my boy and we have already said we are going to the same school so hopefully that will happen. With Alvin Kamara, we haven't talked that much lately, but when we do talk he says 'I don't know, man.' He is just trying to play it on out. That is a great kid right there, so I don't know on him yet."

Many believe that the team to beat for Foster is the team he decommitted from last month, Auburn.

According to Matthews, Auburn isn't an option for the five-star linebacker.

"No sir," said Matthews when asked if he thought Auburn was still in the mix for Foster. "Trooper Taylor is like his (Foster's) dad and they fired him so I don't see him going back to Auburn. Reuben will not go back to Auburn. That's a fact."

Whether Georgia lands their remaining targets or not, the Peach State blue chipper says that the Bulldogs are strong at every position in the current class.

But that hasn't stopped him from doing some more recruiting out west as one of UGA's top targets is on his team in San Antonio.

"At Georgia, we are pretty much stacked at all positions in this class with cornerbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and Brice Ramsey," he said with a smile. "But on the line, we are working on it. I'm trying to get my boy (Laremy) Tunsil. I'm trying to get him in there and it is highly likely he comes to Georgia."

As a prospect who has been committed to a school for well over a year, one would think that Matthews would have gotten to know most of his future teammates by now.

The Army All-American game, however, has given Matthews a chance to know one of his future teammates quite well, and maybe even too well.

"I love it," said Matthews when asked about the opportunity to spend time with the Georgia commitments at the all-star game. "I'm actually rooming with (Johnny) O'Neal. We have been bonding and talking a lot. He's real quiet. He's a quiet dude. He snores loud. He snores so loud. He snores like my dad and my dad snores the loudest. I heard in church one time that if you snore, you don't dream. Johnny (doesn't) dream. I can tell you that. It is great to have my boys here. My big offensive lineman, Kublanow, is here. So it is great to have those guys here."

As an early enrollee, Matthews is a part of a group of 13 total 2013 prospects who will arrive at UGA in January, and he believes that this group is vital to the success of Georgia football going forward.

"It is very important," he said. "We can go on in and hit the weights, learn all the concepts, get into school early, get in our books early, and it is just perfect. We can learn the playbook and the schemes, and just get in to the college life. It is big."

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