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August 13, 2011
Matthews: 'I'm ready'
One by one, Newnan safety Tray Matthews decided it was time he let everyone in on the news.
First, it was his parents and little sister: "I'm ready; I'm feeling it," Matthews revealed as they finished their tour Saturday inside Georgia's Butts-Mehre Building.
Next, it was Newnan High head coach Mike McDonald who accompanied the 2013 recruit on his unofficial visit.
"I'm feeling it, Coach," Matthews said.
It was at that point that Georgia coach Mark Richt approached, he presumed to simply tell the family goodbye.
But Matthews had other ideas.
"Coach Richt walked up behind out of nowhere and grabbed me," Matthews recalled. "He asked 'So, what are you feeling?' I told him I was ready. He asked if I was serious, and I told him again - I'm ready."
With that, Matthews made it official, becoming Georgia's fourth verbal commitment for the class of 2013.
"It was a surprise. We came out here, just to watch the practice and it just came about," Matthew said. "I felt it in my heart. I just thought I'd go ahead and tell everybody."
At 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, Matthews, his family and McDonald arrived in Athens early Saturday morning for their unofficial visit, which included catching the Bulldogs' morning practice session at the team's Woodruff Practice Facility.
Matthews chose the Bulldogs over Alabama.
"I've always wanted to come to Georgia," he said. "I really didn't want to commit so early, but today when Mark Richt came up and put his hands around me, I just figured I'd better go ahead and do it."
Matthews said believes he caught the Bulldog head coach off guard with his decision.
"He was shocked. I thought he was about to cry. He hugged me like 10 times, celebrating," Matthews said. "After that there must have been a million coaches coming out of nowhere. I felt all the love and it felt good."
Richt wasn't the only one who was surprised.
Matthews' mother Sonya said the family had no idea that a decision was forthcoming.
In fact, it was just over two weeks ago that Matthews put off an earlier decision to commit to Georgia so he could go visit his second-favorite school - Alabama.
Matthews said he throughout enjoyed his trip to Tuscaloosa and acknowledged the Crimson Tide program opened his eyes. However, in the end, the long-time Bulldog fan couldn't say no to the home-state school.
"Alabama had to top Georgia," Matthew said. "I said it had to top Georgia, not be neck and neck, and they didn't top it."
Matthews credits former Newnan teammates current Bulldogs Alec and Alexander Ogletree for helping him become the type of player Georgia coaches obviously believe that he is.
"We're really good friends, when I was a freshman they were seniors. They kind of pushed me, told me to work harder and they made me tougher," Matthews said. "They'd always try to push me and hit me as hard as they could; tried to knock my head off. But I knew to be the best, you've got beat the best."
Georgia's 2013 class is surely shaping up to be one of the best.
Along with Matthews, the commitments of Camden County quarterback Brice Ramsey, Yulee (Fla.) running back Derrick Henry and Goose Creek (S.C.) wide receiver Tramel Terry give the Bulldogs an impressive early core of players on which to build - each of whom projects to be among the top players in their respective states.
"I don't really know them but I've seen them compete and they all look pretty good," Matthews said. "I was just ready to get on board with them."
In the meantime, Matthews figures to do some recruiting of his own. His first target, Troup County linebacker Reuben Foster, who was high on Georgia before committing to Alabama several weeks ago.
"I'm actually trying to get my friend Reuben to come on board," Matthews said. "He tried to get me to come to Alabama."
How will Matthews get this accomplished?
"I have my ways," laughed Matthews, glad the decision is finally behind him.
"It's a big, big relief," added Matthews, who still wants to take official visits to Ohio State and Southern Cal.
One of those visits will apparently not include Alabama.
"Probably not," he said.