Vanderbilt’s recruiting under James Franklin is rolling right along following the Commodores’ first nine-win season in nearly a century. But their biggest recruit may be the player they’re keeping.
Junior receiver Jordan Matthews, who led the SEC this season with 94 catches, said Sunday he will return for his senior season.
“I’m happy to get this behind me and excited about the decision I made,” said Matthews, a consensus first-team All-SEC selection. “I’m just ready to get back to work with my team. We have the longest winning streak in the SEC [seven games] and plan on keeping it that way and keeping this thing going.”
The 6-3, 205-pound Matthews developed into one of the most productive receivers in the country this season. He set a school record with 1,323 receiving yards and also caught eight touchdown passes. He posted seven games of at least 100 receiving yards, which was also a school record. Five of the 100-yard performances came against SEC defenses.
Several more records will be within reach for Matthews next season, but his decision to return has more to do with the Vanderbilt program and his teammates than it does him.
"The chance to get a world-class education here at Vanderbilt was a big factor. You can't get an education like this anywhere else," Matthews said. "But at the end of the day, I wanted to come back and spend time with my family, my teammates. I love playing with these guys, and there's still a lot we want to do."
Matthews said spending another season under the tutelage of Franklin and Vanderbilt receivers coach Josh Gattis was also too good to pass up.
"Everybody raves about coach Franklin's recruiting, and he's a great recruiter," Matthews said. "But once he gets the players here, he makes them better. Look at what he's done for my career. I feel like I have the best receivers coaches in the country when you add in coach Franklin and coach (Josh) Gattis."
Matthews, who will be one of the leading candidates for the Biletnikoff Award next season, is well aware that the Commodores won't sneak up on anybody in 2013. He said that's all a part of taking this program to even greater heights.
"We're just trying to go 1-0 each week," Matthews said. "Those same teams that will be circling us on their calendars next season, we'll be circling them, too. We always play with a chip on our shoulder, and we always play for each other. That's just going to continue."