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William Clay Matthews III (born May 14, 1986 in Northridge, Californiamarker) is an American football linebacker for the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League. He was drafted by the Packers 26th overall in the 2009 NFL Draft. He played college football at Southern California.

Early years

Matthews attended Agoura High Schoolmarker in Agoura Hills, Californiamarker. Physically, Matthews was a late bloomer. His father was the team's defensive coordinator, but declined to start his son because he was physically undersized. Matthews began developing physically his senior season, but only garnered interest from Division I FCS schools and local community colleges. He has described his own recruiting status out of high school as "not applicable." He opted to follow in his father and uncle's footsteps and attend the University of Southern Californiamarker and take a chance at walking on to the Trojans football team.

College career

Matthews during the 2007 season.
Matthews attended USC and played for the USC Trojan football team (2005-2008 seasons; 2004 redshirt) under head coach Pete Carroll and Linebacker Coach Ken Norton Jr. Matthews entered USC as an unheralded, walk-on student athlete. During his first season, USC's 2004 National Championship season, he played only on the scout team and turned down several playing opportunities during garbage time during the fourth quarters of games in order to preserve his redshirt status and remaining seasons of NCAA eligibility. He remained a non-athletic scholarship (a "walk on"), reserve linebacker during the 2005 season, and played mainly on special teams. His hard work, enthusiasm, and genuine team spirit paid off and was recognized by the Trojan coaching staff, and he was granted full athletic scholarship status at the beginning of the 2006 season. Matthews continued to play reserve linebacker in the 2006 and 2007 seasons, and made two starts in 2007 in place of injured teammate Brian Cushing. He was awarded USC's Co-Special Teams Player of the Year in 2006 and 2007 and blocked two field goals in the latter season.

During the off-season, Matthews committed to rigorous weight training and conditioning programs to gain size and improve his performance level and stamina. The hard work paid off again. At the beginning of the 2008 season season, defensive coordinator Nick Holt, Carroll and Norton decided to try using Matthews in a hybrid "Elephant" position, where Matthews would stand in the position of defensive end, but use the speed and tactics of a linebacker; the coaches had used Cushing in the position in a similar manner in 2006. The experiment was successful, as Matthews recorded 4.5 sacks while playing alongside his other NFL-bound teammates Brian Cushing, Rey Maualuga and Kaluka Maiava. Furthermore, Matthews continued his spectacular special teams play and was awarded USC's Co-Special Teams Player of the Year in 2008, making him the only player in USC history to be awarded three consecutive Special Teams Player of the Year awards. Matthews was a participant in the 2009 Senior Bowl and was considered a top prospect for the 2009 NFL Draft

Matthews was one of twelve senior USC football players, including the four linebackers Cushing, Maiava, Matthews and Maualuga, attending the by-invitation-only 2009 NFL Scouting Combine.Matthews, alongside fellow USC linebackers Maualuga and Cushing, was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated's 2009 NFL Draft Preview magazine, as all three were regarded as potential first round selections.

Professional career

Pre-draft measureables

Pre-draft measureables
Ht Wt 40-yard dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20 ss 3-cone Vert Broad BP Wonderlic
6-3⅛ * 240 lb * 4.58 ** 1.58 ** 2.68 ** 4.18 * 6.90* 35½ in. * 10'1" * 23 * 26 *


Green Bay Packers

Matthews was drafted in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft, with the 26th overall pick, by the Green Bay Packers.

He scored his first touchdown during a Monday Night Football game against the Minnesota Vikings; Matthews stripped the ball from running back Adrian Peterson and ran the ball back for a score.

Matthews had arguably his best game in his young career in week 6 against the Detroit Lions. He made 3 tackles, assisted on 2 more and sacked Daunte Culpepper twice. He was nominated and won the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week award for his performance.

In week 10 against the Dallas Cowboys Clay had another outstanding game: recording 1 tackle, recovering 2 fumbles forced by Cornerback Charles Woodson, and sacked Dallas quarterback Tony Romo to make him a nominee again for the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week. For the 2nd time in as many nominations was voted Rookie of the Week for week 10.

Personal

Clay Matthews comes from a football family. Matthews' father, Clay Matthews, played the third most games in NFL history (278) over 19 seasons as a linebacker for the Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons while earning 4 Pro Bowl selections. Matthews' uncle, Bruce Matthews, played as an offensive lineman for 19 years in the National Football League for the Houston Oilers and Tennessee Titans after being drafted out of USC in 1983. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Famemarker in 2007 and considered one of the greatest offensive lineman in NFL history, playing in a NFL-record 14 consecutive Pro Bowls. Both brothers were All-Americans. His grandfather, Clay Matthews, Sr., played 4 seasons in the NFL for the San Francisco 49ers in the 1950s. He is the second of four sons to Clay Matthews, Jr. to play for USC while one plays for the University of Oregonmarker.

References

  1. Gary Klein, USC’s Clay Matthews had to walk on before he could run, Los Angeles Times, September 23, 2008, Accessed January 29, 2009.
  2. Michael Sokolove, Happiness Is a Warm Football Coach, The New York Times, November 2, 2008, Accessed February 11, 2009.
  3. Erik McKinney, Molding A Spot for Clay, WeAreSC.com, May 4, 2008, Accessed January 29, 2009.
  4. Albert Breer, USC just might be the true location of Linebacker U, Sporting News, January 21, 2009, Accessed January 29, 2009.
  5. Ted Miller, Pac-10 NFL combine invitees, ESPN.com, February 2, 2009, Accessed February 2, 2009.
  6. Gary Klein, USC's Maualuga, Cushing and Matthews grace Sports Illustrated cover, LATimes.com, April 21, 2009, Accessed April 26, 2009.


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