When Jordan Rodgers was inserted as Vanderbilt’s starting quarterback midway through 2011, Jordan Matthews took off.
After just five catches in the first six games, Matthews finished with 41 with Rodgers slinging him the ball. The chemistry carried over into the next season, where Matthews caught 94 passes — 90 from Rodgers — and set a school record with 1,362 receiving yards.
Rodgers is gone. But Matthews, entering his senior season, is optimistic about the bond he is creating with Rodgers’ replacement — Austyn Carta-Samuels.
“Our chemistry is getting a lot better,” Matthews said on Thursday during Southeastern Conference Media Days in Birmingham, Ala. “We’ve thrown all spring, since the end of the season and this whole summer and all through the winter too. It is really growing. He is a great guy, a technician. He has played college football before. So he knows the ins and outs of the game. He has taken that leadership role. So I’m just along for the ride with him.”
The duo isn’t only connecting on the football field. Matthews and Carta-Samuels will be roommates for the fall semester. Matthews, who was named a preseason All-SEC first team selection on Thursday, graduates in December and could improve his NFL Draft stock. The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder decided not to leave school early last spring.
Though Carta-Samuels has started just one game at Vanderbilt, he is a fifth-year senior. He transferred from Wyoming before the 2011 season and is the former Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year.
Carta-Samuels mainly observed during games last year, throwing just 25 passes, while Matthews and Rodgers helped the Commodores to a 9-4 record and a win in the Music City Bowl.
But Matthews said his new quarterback is ready to leave his own mark — and pick up right where Rodgers left off.
“His arm is crazy good,” Matthews said. “He has a great arm. I feel like by season’s end people will realize he has one of the best arms in this conference. He has great accuracy. He has a really strong arm. He is really smart with his game too. I think he is going to be really successful for us.”