Published Saturday, January 05, 2013

Matthews to play in today's televised bowl game

By DOUG GORMAN

dgorman@newnan.com

Tray Matthews isn’t exactly entering uncharted waters.

But the Newnan Times-Herald’s All-County Football Most Valuable Player is about to join a growing pipeline of Cougar players heading off to a major college football program.

He’s just doing it a little bit early.

After satisfying all of his high school academic requirements, Matthews will enroll at the University of Georgia later this month so he can get a jump start on his college career with the Bulldogs.

Before he arrives in Athens officially, however, the Newnan standout safety and wide receiver gets an opportunity to play in today’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

The game features the best 80 high school players from around the country and can be seen nationally at 1 p.m., on NBC.

Matthews is among five seniors from Georgia on the East squad, joining Walton High teammates Tyren Jones and Brandon Kublanow and Cedar Grove senior quarterback Johnathon McCrary.

It’ll be the last of two All-Star contests for Matthews since wrapping up his playing career at Newnan.

Right before Christmas, Matthews played in the Georgia Dome for the South squad as part of the first D.L Scott, Jr, Coalition Bowl All-Star game.

“I just wanted to go out and have some fun,” Matthews said of his participation in the two all-star games.

Georgia head coach Mark Richt offered the Newnan standout a scholarship in the summer before his junior year, and Matthews never wavered in his decision to become a Bulldog.

Richt made a recent visit to Newnan to spend time with Matthews and his family while also spending time at Atkinson Elementary School where Matthews’ mom, Sonya, is an EIP Teacher.

Matthews will be among four Coweta players on the Georgia roster heading into the spring, joining fullback Zander Ogletree, tight end Cole Trolinger and offensive lineman Eddie McQuillen.

In the summer, he’ll be joined by incoming freshman DeAndre “Moose” Johnson of Northgate, who also expects to be part of Richt’s recruiting class next month.

Matthews contributed in all three phases during a 9-3 season for Newnan High this year. He finished with 80 tackles including 61 solo to go with three forced fumbles, an interception and a fumble recovery.

Playing receiver for the first time in his varsity career, Matthews tied for the team lead in receptions with 37 and touchdowns with seven, finishing with 629 receiving yards.

Matthews added a team-high six blocked kicks on special teams.

His effort also earned him first-team Class AAAAAA All-State honors in voting done by the Georgia Sports Writers Association.

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