When coach Robert Crivellari arrived at Fort Bend Elkins, he had a talented, 6-1, 180-pound freshman quarterback on his hands in Jake Matthews. Then Matthews became a 6-2, 220-pound QB, then a 6-3, 250-pound QB and then up even further.
It became apparent that the now-6-foot-5, 281-pound Matthews was destined to play the same position his father, Bruce, excelled at in the NFL: offensive line. Inside Texas traveled to Missouri City, Tex. to meet with Crivellari and with Matthews, who this week was offered a scholarship by the Longhorns.
Well, Robert Crivellari thought he was going to have a star quarterback.
In the spring of '05, Crivellari arrived at Elkins High School and was immediately made aware of an eighth grader with an NFL pedigree named Jake Matthews who could really sling the football.
“I was excited knowing that Jake was going to be a freshman the next year and I knew I was going to have a good player that was going to be a quarterback I was going to have for the next four years,” Crivellari told Inside Texas.
As quarterback for Elkins' freshman team, the 6-1, 180-pound Matthews won nine games. But by the end of the season he'd started to gain quite a bit of weight. The coaches measured him and found that Matthews had grown an inch and gained 40 pounds. At that point, Crivellari still thought he'd have a good quarterback on his hands, just a different kind of quarterback.
“I thought I was going to have a Tim Tebow-kind of guy, but shortly after his freshman year, every day that Jake walked into the building he had gained weight and grew in size, got taller,” said Crivellari.
Eventually, Crivellari decided to give Bruce Matthews a call.
“It was about this time of the year his freshman year I called Bruce and said, 'Hey, you got time to come up and visit with me?' He said, 'Sure coach,' and we sat down and shut the door and talked. I said, 'The way Jake is growing, he's one of our bigger kids, I just don't know if we can keep him at quarterback. We may need to move him to offensive line.' And Bruce, being the guy he is, started to laugh a little bit. He said, 'Coach, I figured we were going to have this talk.' He said, 'Not a problem. Let's move him to O-Line,'” said Crivellari.
The New Position
Moving from quarterback to offensive lineman is quite a switch. It's not like going from one skill position to another or linebacker to defensive end. It's a completely different role on the team.
Luckily for Matthews, he had someone to help him make the transition.
“It was a little different, but I had a lot of help because of my dad,” said Matthews. “I think I learned the blocking scheme in two nights. My dad just showed it to me. I just kept reviewing with him and I didn't have any trouble catching up because I just kept growing and I eventually caught up with everyone else. I fit in and I ended up liking it a lot.”
Matthews said his father has helped him every step of the way and has been key in his development.
“He's been a great mentor to me,” said Matthews. “During summer we'll work out and be out in the field working on technique, footwork, pass sets, all the different steps and things you have to do to be successful to play offensive line.”
And Matthews was successful. Crivellari was amazed by how quickly his quarterback-turned-offensive lineman picked up the blocking scheme and then retained it.
“There's some kids you can teach technique to until you're blue in the face and then they get out on the field and forget everything they've learned,” said Crivellari. “Some, like Jake, can take what they've done in practice and then put it out on the field. That's what makes the good ones great and the mediocre ones mediocre.”
After the transition to the offensive line, attention from college scouts soon followed.
During Matthews' sophomore season, his first on the offensive line, a recruiter from Oklahoma State told Bruce that his son has great potential as a collegiate lineman.
Jake was very complimented, but more so he was just confused.
“I was like, 'What? Me? Really?' I was 15 years old and like 220 pounds. That was a pretty big shock,” said Matthews.
There were plenty of reasons for recruiters to know about Matthews. Along with the NFL pedigree, Jake's brother Kevin plays for Texas A&M (Kevin began as a walk-on before earning a scholarship then taking over as the Aggies' starting center). Still, it takes more than coaches knowing about you. You've got to get it done on the field and by the end of his sophomore year Matthews had become a force to be reckoned with.
Having put on bulk and grown to much more lineman-like proportions, programs began to offer, beginning with the Aggies.
“With Kevin playing at Texas A&M, they definitely were going to get in quick,” said Crivellari. “Coach Sherman came and sat in that chair you're sitting in and watched a full game video on him and said, 'He's an offer.' Coach Sherman was an offensive line coach and has coached a few offensive linemen. I guess he knew what he was looking at.”
Stanford soon followed. Then Texas Tech, Oregon, Duke, Houston, Arkansas, Cal, Oklahoma State, LSU, Oklahoma and his father's alma mater, USC, all threw their hats into the ring for the Matthews, who has become the top-ranked lineman in Texas. He's now up to roughly 20 offers and Crivellari said Matthews has been continually amazed throughout the entire process that he's in such a fortunate position.
“He's very humbled,” said Crivellari. “I think he's kind of taken back by all this and every time I tell him there's another school that's made an offer to him, he gets a big smile on his face and he's very elated about the whole situation.”
This week another school made an offer to Matthews: The Texas Longhorns.
Though he's not scheduled to come to Austin until the Horns' second Junior Day (the last weekend in February), Texas head coach Mack Brown called Crivellari to let him know Matthews would be receiving an offer in the mail.
With one offensive lineman committed (Trey Hopkins) and Matthews the only other one holding an offer from the Horns, the 6-5, 281-pound lineman has become one of the Horns' top targets for the class of 2010, which is also why Texas gave Matthews the offer well before his Junior Day visit.
According to Crivellari, the offensive line offer to a player who hasn't played much offensive line is well deserved.
“We're probably going to watch him on Sundays,” said Crivellari. “His senior year is really going to be fun to watch.”
Inside Texas subscribers:
Matthews isn't the only son of a Hall of Famer who'll be visiting Texas soon. Next week, one of the top players in the nation for 2010 will be stopping by the 40 Acres. -- Members Only: Son of Hall of Fame QB to Visit Texas
Go deeper into Jake Matthews' recruitment. Will the Longhorns be able to land the state's best offensive lineman? What personal connections does he have elsewhere? Are they enough to pull him away? What matters to him most in a school? All that and more inside -- Members Only: What Are the Horns' Chances of Landing Jake Matthews?
Plus, what makes Matthews a special prospect? We go over his game and examine his strengths and weaknesses on the field. Does he have the potential to be a great NFL player like Bruce Matthews? -- Members Only Scouting Report: Can Matthews Be as Great as His father?
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