In football there are good hits and there are shoulder pad-cracking pops; Tray Matthews takes a great deal of pride in the fact that he typically inflicts the latter.
“I don’t like to just hit guys,” said Matthews, a safety at Newnan (Newnan, Ga.). “I like to run through them. I want to hit them with a purpose. Make them think about it for a few plays.”
To achieve this, Matthews uses what he calls his “most valuable” asset – explosiveness.
“I just like to explode off the line or explode to the football,” said Matthews, a Georgia commit. “I don’t think about anything else but getting to that football and that explosiveness is the main reason I even have the opportunities I’ve had. I think I was born with it.”
When Matthews was just 9, he started playing with the Coweta County Eagles in a recreational league. On the first day of hitting drills, the coaches paired him up with a kid twice his size and with twice the experience.
"I asked the coaches, 'What do I do?'," Matthews recalled. "They said to just run at him full speed as hard as I could and stay low. I did exactly what they said and the big kid started crying when I hit him. It’s been on ever since then."
Matthews embraces his role as the most feared man in the secondary. He said that at some point every game he can tell when the receivers and running backs are losing their concentration because they want to be aware of where he’s at.
“I love that,” Matthews said. “That’s when I know I’ve got them. Once you explode into that hit one good time it lets them know that it’s gonna be a long night. I owe everything to my explosiveness.”