Both players transferred in -- Countess from Michigan, Matthews from Georgia – yet both have the same blonde hair as the rest of the secondary. It was an act of solidarity for the group to bleach their hair, and the two newcomers didn’t think twice about it.
In fact, it was Countess’ idea for the whole group to do it.
“T.J. [Davis] did it first and me and Josh [Holsey] talked about doing it. I was like, 'If we're going to do it, then we've all got to do it,’” Countess said. “I kind of pushed for everybody to do it.”
Now Countess, Matthews, Davis, Holsey and Johnathan Ford all have the signature blonde hair.
“Some people around here [think] it’s like the honey badger,” Matthews said. “But I just want to bring that swag back to the Auburn defense. I’ve heard [Jonathan] Jones say something about he is the only one not doing it. His swag is just not up to par right now. That’s what I’ll say.”
The honey badger, of course, is referring to former LSU defensive back Tyrann Mathieu. He and another former Tiger, Odell Beckham Jr., are the most notable players with the bleached blonde hair look.
But though they have made it more popular, not everybody was a fan of the new hairdo initially.
“My parents were a little against it at first,” Countess said. “It's grown on them.
“Coach T-Rob [Travaris Robinson], he was not in favor of it at all at first. Then when we all started doing it, he was like, ‘well, at least you guys are all doing it as a group.’ If it's a group thing, if everybody's doing it, then he's all for it.”
Matthews, however, wasn’t swayed by his position coach’s remarks.
“T-Rob always has something to say,” the former Georgia safety said. “It is nothing major to me. He’s always cracking jokes. I’m going to keep my hair like this.”
Countess also plans to keep his hair blonde through the early part of the season and see where it goes from there.
The important thing is that both newcomers are fitting in with their teammates. First-year defensive coordinator Will Muschamp knows how important chemistry will be for an Auburn secondary that struggled down the stretch last season.
"I really think the two closest knit groups on your team need to be the offensive line and your secondary, because if they break down there, the other band is playing," Muschamp told reporters this fall. "We need those guys to be very close, especially our seniors."
Auburn and its blonde band of brothers in the secondary will open the season a week from Saturday, and Matthews promises a new defense to go with their new look.
“This is a whole new defense this year,” he said. “I want the world to know that. It’s going to be a big difference.”