I recently caught up with Jordan Matthews of the Philadelphia Eagles. For those that don’t know Jordan has been a long time BCI trained athlete. He started attending my Speed Camps back in Middle School and I was his High School Strength Coach at Madison Academy. He still comes back and trains with me during the off season and brief breaks he gets throughout the year. We’ve developed a special relationship over the years. I saw something special in him as early as 10th grade and I let anyone who would listen know about it. He’s a very gifted young man but what truly separates him from so many athletes is his mindset. He is wise and mature beyond his years and has been the example of what I believe being a “Warrior” is all about. I felt Jordan had a message to share so I took some time to interview him. Just go read the articles about Jordan online. The hype doesn’t even do him justice. This kid is a winner and any young athlete should model themselves after him if they want to reach highest levels of sport.
BCI: We’ve talked a lot over the years about what it takes to be an elite athlete and make it to the next level whether that is NCAA or NFL. Talk to the young kids out there and let them know what it takes to actually attain this goal.
Jordan Matthews: Making it to play sports on the collegiate and professional levels are not easy achievements. I believe that dedication is the key attribute needed in order to obtain that level of success. Too many times you will see great athletes not reach their full potential because they don’t know what they are dedicated to, or they are dedicated to the wrong things. Before you can ever be great at something you must be committed to it! I’ve played on many football teams in my life and it was always obvious by the third week of camp who was really dedicated to the team and his future. You can’t fake it. If you want to make it an elite level your dedication to your craft has to be on an elite level. When the rest of the team is done working you continue to put in extra time. The difference is that they stop once they are done with what is required of them by outside sources, you have an internal source that makes you push beyond because you aren’t satisfied with only doing the norm. That is what makes you great. Dedicate you energy to being the best you can be each day and watch how the results take care of themselves.
BCI: You’ve done a great job of always being focused on the outcome and goals you have set for yourself. High School and college both present unique and different obstacles that can derail an athlete. Can you advise athletes on how you were always able to avoid the traps many athletes fall into.
Jordan Matthews: I would say that the best ways to stay focused and avoid the distractions that many athletes succumb to are to stay busy, choose your friends wisely, and to begin your journey with the end in mind. I believe that staying busy is a great way to stay out of trouble. My mother used to always tell that “an idle mind is a devil’s workshop!” Truer words have never been spoken. If you can find ways to focus on your main priorities, you will miss out on unneeded activities that cause many athletes to slip up. Secondly, make sure that the friends you choose have similar goals as you. When you do this you create for yourself a support group that you are accountable to. They won’t ask you to do things that aren’t necessary for your growth because they too are trying to be great. If your friends goals do not match up with yours then you should make them acquaintances very soon, because continuing to spend your time with them will only cause you to become average. Lastly, you must begin your path to greatness with the ending in mind. If you want to play in the NBA then you should wake up every morning and tell yourself that! When distractions come that don’t match up with that dream, it will be easier to reject them because you know where you want to be.
BCI: Many athletes we know have struggled transitioning from high school to college. What do they need to be prepared for and how can they position themselves to have the best chance of success?
Jordan Matthews: The key word to success when you are transitioning from high school to college is prioritizing. This is even magnified when you add playing sports to the occasion. I would tell all the freshman football players that there are three main priorities that exist on a college campus. Those three are School, Sports, and Social Life. The trick is, you can only be great at two! This is where prioritizing comes in. When I left for college I made up my mind that I was going to take care of my school work and football before anything else, and that is what helped me reach the next level. I also would see athletes who would choose to be great at sports but also want to great at the club scene. Needless to say, their grades suffered. Some chose to place their focus on school and social life, therefore their performance suffered on the field. Sadly there are some who choose social life twice and they are gone by December. College is a very short window to give yourself a jump start into your career. I’m not saying that you can’t have fun and get to know people, but you should definitely have your priorities fixed on your lesson and your game.
BCI: Name a few things you may have not focused on as much when you were younger but now are a big believer in.
Jordan Matthews: As I’ve gotten older I’ve truly learned the importance of sleep. Too many times people think the key to success is never resting and outworking your opponent all day and night. I can appreciate the mindset, but the facts show that sleeping less is actually more detrimental than beneficial. When I was younger i would try to stay up and watch television or talk on the phone, but still be the first up to go to workouts the next day. The older I got the more i realized that it was affecting my performance. I learned that if you don’t get the right amount of sleep, the workouts you do actually have no significance. The only time your body has time to repair the muscles, grow, and restore energy is when you sleep. I always noticed that the athletes who never rested tended to get hurt more often as well. I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t that athlete anymore.
BCI: What would you tell an incoming high school freshman who’s whole life is focused on getting offers and playing college ball?
Jordan Matthews: I would tell that freshmen to not put their focus on the material things. Worrying solely on those things will only leave you empty in the long run. Instead put your focus on making your family proud and becoming the best you that you can be. When these things become your motivation then getting offers will be the easy part and less important. If making your family proud is where you place your focus then it won’t matter if you have 30 offers or only one from a D2 school. As long as you go to that institution and make the most of your opportunity then you have accomplished something great! The world will tell you that greatness is only for the 5 star recruits with a million offers but that is a lie. I was blessed with only one and I never looked back. It is dangerous to find your worth in such trivial things because you will convince yourself that you aren’t capable of being great if you don’t obtain them. Instead fix your eyes on goals that aren’t as material. When you do this you will find true purpose in your life.
BCI: Talk about some specific things you do on a regular basis to work on your craft or stay in great shape?
Jordan Matthews: I do a few things each day to stay on top of my game. I make sure I get adequate sleep, eat 3 healthy meals a day, foam roll, stretch, hydrate, watch film, and catch 100 footballs a day. Now I understand that catching footballs isn’t essential to every athlete’s growth, but the six can benefit anyone. Checking these boxes every day have kept me ahead of my competition. Over time they became habits, so now I can’t be satisfied with the day unless I make sure I do them.
BCI: What some things you have sacrificed on your way to where you are?
Jordan Matthews: I’ve had to sacrifice a lot in order to make it to this level. Eating whatever I want is one thing that I’ve recently had to give up. Saying no to fried chicken goes against everything I was taught in the south, but it is not beneficial to my health so I had to let it go, among other foods. I also had to sacrifice friends. I had a good number of friends when I was younger, but when I noticed that our paths were going in different directions, I was forced to cut them off. The last, and probably main thing I had to sacrifice, was time doing activities that others viewed as “fun”. I couldn’t go to the club on Friday night because I needed to be at he facility catching balls in the morning on Saturday. I couldn’t attend a number of late activities because they conflicted with my bed time. It may seem overboard, but cutting off those distractions helped me shift my focus to where I wanted to go in life. Now I realize that I never needed those things in the first place.
Just want to thank Jordan for his time and I hope every young athlete who reads this takes this to heart. I am asked weekly what does it take to get to the next level and if you take these responses to heart and find a way to model your actions after Jordan you will be on your way to making the best of your situation. Football is a game of life and the way you approach this game can greatly benefit you even if you don’t end up in the NFL. If you know a young athlete who you feel could benefit from reading this please share it with them.