By Mr. Larry D Mccaskill (ACC )November 13, 2013
Like many dads, Rod Matthews used sports as a way to bond with his two sons as they grew up. Years later, one of those sons is setting records in college football's Southeastern Conference.
Matthews' son Jordan, a senior playing wide receiver at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., recently broke the SEC record for career receiving yards, eclipsing Georgia's Terrence Edwards total 0f 3,093 yards. As of Nov.6, Jordan has 3,172 yards with four games to go. He's also less than 500 yards shy of the SEC single-season receiving yards record and a little more than 20 catches shy of the SEC single-season record for receptions.
"The back yard was our field of dreams," said Matthews, director, Cargo Contracts, Army Contracting Command-Redstone Arsenal, Ala. "I taught them football, baseball and basketball there. My sons were each other's practice partners and I was their coach. I would play quarterback while Justin and Jordan would take turns running routes and tackling each other. It was very competitive but fun."
Matthews said he saw Jordan's intensity as he played beside his older brother Justin on various teams.
"Justin was a year older so Jordan always played up with him to save us from having to support two different teams," said Matthews.
Playing with the older and bigger kids, Jordan pushed himself to keep up and his father said that might have been a difference maker.
"We knew he was talented because he always excelled. I think the light bulb went off when Coach (Phillip) Lolley from Auburn (director, Football External Relations) called during Jordan's junior year and said they wanted to recruit him.
"Vanderbilt and Mississippi State University followed suit, but once we got interest from Vandy, we put all our efforts in letting them know that was where we wanted him to go," said the proud father. "To us, him being able to play in the SEC and do it at an institution with the high academic standards of Vanderbilt was a no-brainer."
Matthews and his wife Brenda graduated from Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss., and Justin is scheduled to graduate this year from Mississippi State.
Matthews acknowledged that his son is a gifted player and believes the apple didn't fall far from the tree.
"Even though I was a better football player, I went the basketball route in high school. I would like to think I would have been as good as my son if I kept playing but I would be the only one with that opinion by a long shot," Matthews said with a chuckle. "My wife and I both have a love of sports. She was a track and field athlete and played basketball. Jordan isn't always recognized for being a speed demon, but he has never been run down. Brenda was a sprinter so I have to give her credit for passing that on to him," he said.
Staunch supporters of their son, the Matthews have attended all of Jordan's games, home and away. And like most parents, they worry about Jordan's safety.
"We pray before every game but feel in our hearts he is covered by God's grace," Matthews said. "We don't let fear consume us because if we did we would be nervous wrecks. He has not sustained a serious injury since playing in college. He has not missed a game so we have no reason to expect that now, but we do have nervous moments."
As Jordan soars higher, catch after catch, Matthews and his wife do what they can to help keep the young man grounded.
"Brenda and I stress the importance of Jordan receiving his economics degree. If he is blessed with an NFL career, it will be short lived. He knows the importance of leveraging a Vandy degree with a NFL football career. We encourage both of our sons to follow their dreams and do what makes them happy in life."