The Story of Clay Matthews: Inspiring Others to Chase Their Dreams of a College Football Scholarship

college football scholarships

We are taking a quick break today from our usual daily M.O. of Midwest sports news, rumors, entertainment, links and humor to talk about dreams.

Don’t worry, we are not straying too far off-topic, as you will see in a second. But let me just preface this post by saying that if you are a high school football player, or the parent of a current or future high school football player, you may just want to go ahead and bookmark this page right now.

Because this post was written for you.

It begins with the story of one former high football school player who achieved his college football scholarship dreams, and ends with my own personal recommendation for the best resource I’ve ever found for helping you or your high school football player achieve similar dreams of college football scholarships as well.


Come April 25th, when the 1st round of the NFL Draft turns into the 2nd round, there is a familiar name that Cleveland Browns fans are hoping is still available: Clay Matthews. And as all Browns fans and most college football fans know, yes I am talking about the son of that Clay Matthews.

The entire city of Cleveland might erupt with excitement if the son of the legendary Browns linebacker is available with the 36th overall selection. The younger Matthews is not quite good enough to be a possibility for the Browns’ 5th oClay Matthews III - 2009 NFL Draft Prospect USCverall selection, but probably too good to last that far in the 2nd round. I scoured the most recent mock drafts and the lowest I saw Clay Matthews being taken was 33rd overall by the Lions.

The fact that the second round NFL Draft availability of Clay Matthews is even a question mark is a tremendous testament to the incredible story of the former USC walk-on turned probable 1st Round pick.


As a high school junior, Clay Matthews III (he grandfather was an NFL player as well) was a 166-pound backup linebacker at Agoura High in California. He ultimately started as a senior, but only received one scholarship offer from a Division I program: Idaho. Matthews, however, was determined to play football at his father’s alma mater, and decided to forego the Idaho offer and walk-on at USC. Pete Carroll accepted Matthews into the storied Trojan program, in large part because of his name and work ethic, but with no expectation that the skinny, undersized kid would ever be able to match up physically with the top talent in Division I college football.


Clay Matthews earned his keep on special teams, eventually earning a college football scholarship and twice being named USC’s co-Special Teams Player of the Year. As a junior, he was a backup linebacker, and this year became a starter and ultimately was named Second Team All Pac 10.


There is no telling what can be accomplished by someone with the heart, will, and desire to follow their dreams; and, it doesn’t hurt to have a prestigious family name and legacy to help open a door of opportunity every now and again.

That last part is in no way meant as a knock against Clay Matthews. Had he gone to Idaho, his will to be great very well might have driven him to become the exact same player that he is today.

However, doing what he did at USC, with the help of the family name that got his foot in the door, no doubt allowed him to maximize his potential by going up against the best of the best every day in practice. And it is reasonable to assume that if he was “Clay Matthews, linebacker, Idaho” as opposed to “Clay Matthews, linebacker, USC” that he may not be projected as quite as high of a draft pick as he is with the cache of the USC brand behind him.

So while the story of Clay Matthews is one that any aspiring, but undersized or underexposed, high school football player can draw inspiration from, the vast majority of them do not have a name that, by itself, will warrant attention and opportunity. But like Clay Matthews III, they may have an intense desire to become a scholarship college football player, and just in need of an opportunity to showcase their abilities and will to succeed.

How to Get Recruited for College Football Scholarships

The story of Clay Matthews got me to thinking about what resources are out there that can help high school players fulfill their dreams of getting recruited and earning college football scholarships.

I grew up in a football family with a dad who was a Division I college football coach. I know about the inordinate amount of time he spent recruiting, and thus the time spent sifting through the lists and tapes of potential prospects to zero in on the ones he would ultimately target. I wondered how the growth of the Internet, among other changes over the past decade, has altered the college football recruiting landscape.

My dad is out of coaching now, and has been for the better part of this decade. Yet, as he and I both expected, there are a wealth of websites, books, and other resources that purport to show aspiring college football players how to get recruited with tips and tricks for getting exposed and making their college football scholarship dreams come true. Most of these websites seemed to be pretty much a dime-a-dozen to me, but I did find one in particular that stood out: Play College Football.

Play College Football: College Football Scholarship and Recruiting Resource

As opposed to just being a run-of-the-mill “how to get recruited for college football” website, Play College Football is actually an eBook that is a comprehensive resource for high school football players and theirPlay College Football: how to get recruited for college football scholarships families to use for efficiently gaining the right kind of exposure.

We all know that college football recruiting is an inexact science, and college football coaches know this as well. Most schools and coaches use recruiting services to highlight the players they should be targeting at different positions and in different areas of the country. But we have all heard stories like that of Clay Matthews, and most college football coaches realize that a little extra digging and an open mind can sometimes lead to the unearthing of a diamond-in-the-rough talent who can someday contribute to wins on the football field and, in turn, to said coach keeping his job or moving up the ranks.

This is what makes Play College Football the best resource I found: it provides a wealth of relevant information, along with detailed and systematic guidelines that that teach high school football players how to get recruited and gain exposure.

Obviously, making initial contact with a coach or getting game tape seen is only the first step, and the story told by the tape will go a long way towards determining if a coach will follow up; but as they say: “the journey of a thousand steps begins with a single stride.” Play College Football gives you everything to take not just that difficult first “single stride”, but to take every step necessary to leave no stone unturned in your quest to become a college football player.

Here are a few highlights of specific features in the book that help you learn how to get recruited to play college football:

  • The book’s author, Tom Faulkner, is the father of a player who received a scholarship at a “nationally ranked D1 FBS team to play football.”

I actually spoke with Mr. Faulkner to get a little more background about the book once I found about it, and he said that the book is simply his way of communicating to other parents of high school football players the steps that he and his family took to help his son get recruited and achieve his dream of a college football scholarship.

His son, he told me, was immensely talented but, for a variety of reasons, fell under the radar as a recruit. By being proactive about initiating the right kind of contact through the right kind of channels, Mr. Faulkner and his son were able to let his son’s abilities and production as a high school quarterback communicate his potential value at the next level.

The rest is history and his son became a scholarship player at a DI school.

Other features include:

  • Play College Football provides a “College Assessment Chart” that allows players and their families to effectively assess what schools would be the right fit in terms of both scholarships and potential playing time based on roster composition. This is where the efficiency comes in, as college football scholarships are most effectively sought when you target schools for whom you or your soon will fill a specific need.
  • As I learned from my dad, making sure that you communicate with the right coach is immensely important. Contacting head coaches, who have so many responsibilities and obligations, can often be met with silence and is not a great way to get recruited if are an “off the radar screen” type player. However, contacting position coaches, or the coach who recruits your area, offers a far greater potential for a response and the opening of a dialogue. Play College Football provides the contact information position coaches at every D1, D2, and NAIA school.
  • In general, Play College Football was designed to save families time. Mr. Faulkner explained in detail the arduous process of looking up contact information, as well as general school and roster information, as they executed the plan for their son. One of the goals in writing the book, he said, was to teach players and their parents how to get recruited while saving valuable time. Hence, the plethora of links, forms, charts, and other resources for D1, D2, and NAIA schools that are contained in one convenient place — the book — for easy access.
  • A lot of the other online resources I stumbled across had pretty hefty price tags or recurring monthly payments. Play College Football seemed like a relative bargain at only $39.95, considering the monetary value of college football scholarships and the priceless value of a high school player achieving his dream of becoming a scholarship college football player.

And for the record, other than the personal satisfaction of knowing I referred someone to a resource that can impact their life in a profoundly positive way, I don’t personally benefit in the least if you click over and buy Play College Football.

But I know one thing: you will benefit…greatly.

The story of Clay Matthews is certainly compelling, and will become even more compelling around these parts if he somehow falls to the Browns in the 2nd round (where I can’t imagine them not taking him). My hope in writing this post is to not just provide value to Browns fans and football fans in general with an inspiring story, but more importantly to help other high school football players out there become the next Clay Matthews.

We’ve been accused of rumor-mongering on this blog, and you all know we dabble in gratuitous and irreverent humor from time to time, so consider this my way of putting a deposit in the karma bank and paying it forward, so to speak. For any of our loyal readers and casual visitors who are high school football players dreaming of a college football scholarship, or who are parents of a high school football player dreaming of college football scholarships, or even if you just know a kid who has Clay Matthews-type dreams, I’d suggest you check out Play College Football.

college football scholarships: how to get recruitedThe one thing that struck me about Tom Faulkner was how genuine he seemed about wanting to help families and other players like his son learn how to get recruited and ultimately obtain a college football scholarship. And after checking out the book for myself, it certainly delivers on its prodigious promises.

If you have any questions about the book, feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll respond as best I can, or direct it to the attention of Mr. Faulkner. And for those of you who end up buying and using the book, please stop back by and leave a comment with your story.

As a kid who once had dreams of getting recruited and playing college sports myself, which unfortunately never really materialized, it is always fun to live vicariously through those whose dreams do end up coming true.

Follow the link to visit the official website for Play College Football

Clay Matthews photo credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images

About the Author

Jerod Morris

I love words. I write for Copyblogger and founded MSF, The Assembly Call, & Primility. I practice yoga, eat well, & strive for balance. I love life. Namaste. Say hi on Twitter, Facebook, & G+.