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Meet NFL Prospect Cliff Matthews

by Matt Carli on Apr. 1, 2011
Article by The Meat Locker Sports. Re-released on DraftSite 4/1/2011

[Cliff Matthews was a key member of South Carolina’s arguably most talented recruiting classes (2007) in recent history. Matthews, a former 5-Star recruit and 4 year starter for Steve Spurrier’s defense now prepares to take the next step as he prepares for the Casey Matthews (LB Oregon) my cousin on my daddy’s momma’s side….ha ha. I saw Kendrick Ellis (Hampton), Ladi(Ajiboye of South Carolina), Robert Quinn (UNC) and spoke with him. Like I said though, it was mostly business.

What teams requested interviews with you while you were at the combine? Can you elaborate a little further on the process and the types of questions you were asked?

I met with a lot of teams. I met with Green Bay and I met with the Lions. Some of the questions that they consisted of were half football 101 and the other half was getting to know you and what type of person you are, where you come from and how my community helped me thus far getting where I’m at today. I don’t have anything to hide so I was prepared for anything they had to throw at me. I was just being honest and the rest would take care of itself.

Do you feel you improved your draft positioning during you combine performance?

I feel like I did pretty good, but I feel like I can do better. And I’m going try to improve for pro day. [Scout's Take: Matthews had a great pro day on March 30th showing excellent ability and versatility as a 4-3 End and 3-4 Outside Linebacker]

A lot scouts are projecting you as mid range 3rd-5th round pick [DraftSite has him going 161st overall in the 5th round to the NY Jets], what are some things that you’re being told as far as where you might be drafted?

Well I haven’t been really paying attention to the draft and which round I’m going to go in. I can’t really control that, so the main thing that I focus is on is getting better each day and working on my weaknesses. I want to be the best player that I can be and maximize my performance. I still have a lot to work on, don’t get me wrong. I’m only 21 and I have a lot of learning to do. I have plenty of time.

We understand that you are in Columbia training at the university, while you finish your education and working with South Carolina strength coach Fitzgerald. Do you feel you are at a disadvantage not being able to train at the professional facilities that many of the prospects are training at?

I don’t mean any disrespect to any of the NFL programs or the other workout facilities, but I just made a rational decision based on what was best for me. I feel like staying in school and graduating and getting my diploma was important.

You made it to the SEC championship in your senior year; do you feel that you reached your goals as far as team goals during your career at South Carolina?

Since my 4 years there. I feel like the class of 2011, when we first came built the legacy. We helped slowly turn the program around. We were on the right steps of doing what we felt we were going to do when we first committed to South Carolina. I felt like we left a legacy behind for the upcoming guys to finish off what we started.

Do you feel that you exceeded or met your personal goals?

I feel great about my performance. The first couple of years I set goals for myself and I was on the right [track]. But the last 2 years, I didn’t set goals. The only goal was to win and do whatever it takes to win and we were on the right track.

You weren’t the type of player that produced huge numbers as far as sacks, but your tackles for loss were huge. Do you feel that your lack of big statistics scare of scouts?

I really don’t need to get caught up on numbers, but stats don’t lie but neither does tape. I feel like I’ve got pretty decent tape and I know that I do have what it takes to play at the next level. All I’m asking for is a shot, let me put my foot in the door and I can pretty much work my way up… I’ve got to crawl before I walk.

How can you sum up your 4 years of playing football under head coach Steve Spurrier?

I can remember the first game I came to before I committed, it was the Auburn game about 5 years ago. We were so close to winning that game. After that Coach Spurrier said we were one defensive end from winning that game and that meant a lot to me and that motivated me to commit to South Carolina

Was coach pretty rough on you, he always had such great things to say about you in the media and often referred to you as the “anchor” of his defense. How hard was he really on you?

Coach Spurrier was pretty rough on me now! That’s the kind of coach that I like, a coach that’s rough on you and wants to pull out the best potential in you. I’ve made some bonehead mistakes but it made me better and it made me stronger and a better player. I can remember the Tennessee game my freshmen year, I think I ran into the punter. I think I saw the picture on your site but that’s when I ran into the punter, Coach Spurrier got on me pretty good.

Are you more comfortable playing on the line or dropping back and playing line backer in a 3-4 defensive scheme?

I feel comfortable playing either one. The majority teams I met with were 34 (3-4 defensive scheme) teams and it there were very few that ran a 4-3. Either way I have experience with standing up and having my hands down. I’m prepared for wherever they want to play me at.

Do you feel as a leader of the defense you were able to help mold Devin Taylor? He came to SC and began playing and producing early, similar to your experience as a young defensive end for the Gamecocks?

I feel like I lead by example. Yah’ know Devin doesn’t really talk much, but I showed him I was an example of how he wanted to play and Devin just picked on playing for us and making tackles. I didn’t have to say much to him, he’s a smart kid. He does the right thing, he just picked on and everything just started clicking

It’s 2015 and you’re a 5-year veteran of the NFL. Where are you in your career at this point and where are you looking to go as a professional football player?

Well I think I’m to the point where I’m peaking and I’m hitting on [all] cylinders, I’m assuming I’m at the point where signing a new contract…. I think in 5 years that’s plenty enough time to be knocking on the door at the Pro Bowl.



--see full article at meatlockersports.com---