Matthews (6-foot-5, 305 pounds), projected as a first-round selection in the NFL Draft, cited the opportunity to play with his younger brother, Mike, and contend for a 2013 national championship as primary reasons behind his decision. Mike Matthews, a fellow offensive lineman, will be a sophomore next season, when Texas A&M (11-2) seeks to build on its No. 5 finish in the post-season polls and contend for the school’s first national championship since 1939.
“With our team coming back next season, I think we have the chance to be very special,” Jake Matthews said in a statement released by school officials. “I am happy to announce that I am returning … to play with my younger brother, Mike. That opportunity doesn’t come around very often.”
Matthews’ decision means A&M will return three of its five starting offensive linemen who protected quarterback Johnny Manziel, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner. A&M also will return two of its four All-American players (Matthews, Manziel), with left tackle Luke Joeckel and defensive end Damontre Moore heading to the 2013 NFL Draft.
During a Thursday conference call to announce Manziel as winner of the 2012 Manning Award, Manziel said Matthews’ return represents “a great piece of the puzzle” for a possible national title run in 2013.
A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said: “I am excited that Jake has decided to come back for his senior season. Not only because he is one of the top offensive lineman in the country, but because of his approach and his leadership in our locker room. We will move him from right tackle to the left side and I think he will have a great senior season.”
Joeckel, an Arlington High School graduate and the 2012 Outland Trophy winner, has been the Aggies’ starting left tackle the past three seasons and is projected as a top-5 pick _ possibly the first overall selection _ in April’s NFL Draft.
_ Jimmy Burch