Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt:
Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin has instilled a ton of pride in a Commodore program that frankly, over the years, just hasn’t been that good. Franklin took Vandy to a bowl game in his first year in Nashville. The Commodores finished the season 6-7 and 2-6 in conference play. Although they finished under 500 for the year, the record doesn’t show how competitive the Commodores were in 2011. They were 20 yards away from beating Georgia after they blocked a punt with a minute left to go in the game. A missed field goal cost them at the end of the Arkansas game, as they were kicking for the win. They also lost a late fourth quarter battle at “The Swamp” versus the Florida Gators, as they just couldn’t finish.
2012 hopes to be different, especially for the offense, as they return nine starters. Quarterback Jordan Rogers is back, as well as running back Zac Stacy. Stacy will have a counterpart at running back in 2012, as Warren Norman returns after he was forced to sit out the entire 2011 season with an injury. Vanderbilt will also return their two starting 2011 receivers: Chris Boyd and Jordan Matthews.
Matthews burst onto the scene midway through the 2011 season and finished with 41 receptions for 778 yards. His reception yards were the most by a Commodore receiver since 2007. He also ranked among the SEC leaders with a 19.1 yard receiving average. Matthews had a three game stretch against Arkansas, Florida and Kentucky, that saw him go over 100 yards and score a touchdown. With 151 yards versus Arkansas, followed up by 171 yards versus Florida, Matthews became the first Vandy receiver to post back to back 100 yard games since Earl Bennett in 2006.
The Commodores will be front and center on the first night of action of the 2012 college football season. They face the South Carolina Gamecocks in what will be an early season SEC East battle.