You know you’ve made it as a big-time football prospect when a college head coach sings you “Happy Birthday.”
That’s what happened with Tray Matthews, a junior defensive back from Newnan High School who has already committed to UGA.
On Tuesday, Mathews turned 17 years old, and he was talking on the phone that night to UGA assistant John Lilly. We’ll let Matthews tell the rest about a birthday he’ll never forget:
“Coach Lilly said I’ve got somebody who wants to talk to you and it’s Mark Richt. As soon as Coach Richt got on the phone, without saying anything else, he started singing me ‘Happy Birthday.’ And he sung the whole song to the finish. I was shocked. It made my day. I’ve never had a coach sing me ‘Happy Birthday’ before. That was really cool.”
Matthews said both he and Richt had a good laugh about it, and then talked for a few more minutes. “He wanted to know how my season was going, and asked all kinds of personal questions. He asked ‘Where do you like to go out to eat? What kind of hamburgers do you like? How do you like them cooked?’ We talked about stuff other than football.”
Later that night, Matthews posted on Twitter that Richt sang “Happy Birthday” to him. Richt’s creativity brought out some jealousy and competiveness in other colleges who are trying to lure Matthews away from the Bulldogs. Not surprising in the ultra-competitive world of recruiting.
“I guess the word got out because the Florida coach told me he would bake me a cake for my birthday with ‘Florida’ written all over it,” Matthews said with a laugh. “Then later on, the Florida coach said his cake was better than Mark Richt signing. It was all pretty funny.”
What’s the latest with Matthews’ early commitment to UGA? “I’m still solid with Georgia, but I’m still looking around,” he said. “I’m young, you know? LSU, Alabama and Florida have been sending me a lot of mail lately. I kind of want to get out of state, but I kind of want to go to Georgia, too. If I did change my mind, it would be one of those three schools – LSU, Alabama or Florida. But I’m still solid with Georgia.”
Matthews said he’s attended every UGA home game this season and will go to more next month. He hasn’t visited any other schools, although he may go to the Alabama-LSU showdown.
What do we think? Props to Richt for his creativity in recruiting. Believe it or not, it’s the little things like this that stand out when everything else seems about the same. Prospects get super-tired of hearing the same sales pitch from every college. “Come here and play early, compete for championships, get a great education, and we’ll get you to the NFL.” College recruiters score points with creativity, when they do things to make them stand out from the rest of the pack.
Now it’s YOUR turn: What’s the most creative (and legal) recruiting tactic that you’ve seen or heard about by a college. Please share it below.
– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog
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