USC's Matthews looks to prove himself to Falcons - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

USC's Matthews looks to prove himself to Falcons

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Cliff Matthews (Source: USC Sports Information) Cliff Matthews (Source: USC Sports Information)

By Mandy Mitchell - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Former Gamecock Cliff Matthews is getting ready for the next chapter of his football career. The defensive end leaves Columbia with a lot of public praise from Steve Spurrier than most players.

As the draft moved along, Cliff Matthews waited much longer than the senior defensive end thought he would have to wait. "I was on my way to the movies when the seventh round started," he said.

That's when Cliff got the call he'd been waiting for -- he was the 230th pick of the 2011 NFL draft to the Atlanta Falcons. "I got my news on the way to the theatre," Matthews said. "I almost crashed the car."

Matthews probably could've been a much higher pick if he left after his junior year, but lower stats and a shoulder injury in 2010 may have hurt his stock. Cliff says the only thing he feels now is relief. "At least I have a chance," he said. "A lot of people didn't get drafted. I am very fortunate."

Now he gets to wait again, because the NFL lockout will not allow any rookies to get playbooks or start working out with the team. "I am patently waiting," said Matthews. "I graduate this Saturday so all I can do is wait and make sure I stay in shape."

That shouldn't be too hard for Matthews. He was consistently praised for his work ethic and leadership during his time in Columbia, and now he has to prove it to the Falcons. "Me being a seventh-rounder means I have a lot of work to do," said Matthews.

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