Jordan Matthews was the alpha and the omega of the Vanderbilt offense in 2013.
The All-American wideout drove the Commodores to a second-straight nine-win season and simplified Vandy's crunch-time gameplan to "toss it in #87's direction" in a record setting year. That proficiency made him AoG's runaway winner for both the Offensive and Overall Player of the Year Awards.
His monster year - and career - can be summed up with some numbers. Let's take a quick look at the school and SEC records that Matthews set in 2013:
- Most career receiving yards (Vanderbilt, SEC): 3,759. Second place? 3,093 yards.
- Most career receptions (Vanderbilt, SEC): 262. Second place? 236.
- Most receptions in a single season (Vanderbilt, SEC): 112. Second place? 97.
- Most receiving yards in a single season (Vanderbilt): 1,477.
- Most career receiving touchdowns (Vanderbilt): 24.
- Most career games with 100-yards receiving (Vanderbilt): 19.
- Most games with 100-yards receiving in a single season (Vanderbilt): 9.
More importantly, let's look at what he meant to this team when the stakes were the highest. In no place was that more evident than against Ole Miss in the season opener. Matthews battled dehydration late in the game, puking Gatorade all over the field as the Commodores stared down a 32-28 deficit. The 'Dores faced fourth-and-18 on their own 24-yard line with the game in the balance. Matthews, cramped, tired, and triple-covered, ran a fly route down the sideline, hauled in Austyn Carta-Samuels's pass, and put this team in position to win the game.
He bookended that with another massive conversion against Wake Forest. Vanderbilt faced fourth-and-11 trailing 21-20 with the final game of the regular season on the line. Matthews was covered, smothered, and topped by a pair of Demon Deacon defensive backs - but he created a window for hobbled quarterback Carta-Samuels to make a play. ACS hit that opening, and Matthews hauled in the pass. First down Commodores - and the yardage necessary to set up Carey Spear's game-winning field goal three plays later.
Matthews may be the most clutch player to ever lace his cleats up for the Commodores. But, lest you think his feats of game-saving strength were all he could do, he also cemented his status as a dynamic playmaker on an offense that lacked weapons beyond their wideouts. Take this insane screen pass touchdown against UMass for example:
Or, hell, just take a look at this highlight reel of classic Matthews moves:
Jordan Matthews is a special football player. No single Commodore represented the Brand New Vandy quite like he did. And while opposing defenses knew he was going to be the focus of Vanderbilt's offense, few teams could actually stop him. That made him an easy choice for Vanderbilt football's player of the year - not just for us at AoG, but for a vast majority of Commodore fans out there.
He'll be missed, but it's tough to think of a better ambassador for the #BNV in the NFL than the player who drove the Vanderbilt offense en route to 18 wins in two seasons.
Counterpoint: There is no counterpoint. JMatt stands alone.