PHILADELPHIA – Pressure? What pressure?
The Eagles selected Matthews with the No. 42 overall pick from Vanderbilt in the recently held NFL draft. In fact, they traded up 12 spots to pick the ultra-talented 6-foot-3 Matthews, who left the Commodores as the all-time SEC leader in career receptions (262) and yards (3,759).
Matthews doesn’t believe he’s replacing Jackson.
“I don't think there's any pressure [because] I'm a totally different player than DeSean Jackson,” Matthews said during a break in the Eagles’ rookie minicamp on Friday. “He's a great player. I wish him all the best in Washington. But at the same time I’ve got to be the best player that I can be. There's not much pressure for a guy when you’ve got LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin and Nick Foles. I’ve just got to go in there and do my job, and that's it. That's all I'm focused on.”
Matthews has been focused since high school, especially since he was virtually overlooked.
Despite a successful high school career, Division I colleges simply weren’t offering Matthews a scholarship.
Until one day when a recruit decommitted.
Matthews sure made the most of his opportunity at Vanderbilt from that day forward.
“It wasn't like I was being looked over by some teams. I wasn't wanted by essentially anybody,” Matthews said. “I was kind of stuck in no man's land when it came to recruiting. I had a bunch of big schools that liked me, but nobody had ever gone to Division I from my high school, so they were kind of hesitant to offer. And then small schools would come and see Auburn, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Alabama and those schools and thought, 'Oh, we don't think we'll be able to get him.' So they never offered.”
As a senior at Vanderbilt, Matthews compiled 112 receptions, 1,477 yards and seven touchdowns. He worked himself into a legitimate NFL prospect and that was proven when the Eagles took him at No. 42.
The next step is proving his mettle with the Eagles. It has nothing to do with comparisons to Jackson. The only player Matthews compares himself to is himself.
“I feel like I'm the most competitive guy ever,” Matthews said. “I like to compete in everything I do. I'm gonna try to eat healthier than you, go out and practice harder than you, try to stretch longer than you. That’s just who I am. In the NFL, everybody works hard, but I just try to give myself the extra edge.”