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The Clay Matthews Effect: The Search for the Walk-On

MINNEAPOLIS - OCTOBER 05:  Linebacker Clay Matthews #52 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates after running back an interception for a touchdown during the game against  the Minnesota Vikings on October 5, 2009 at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Mike KlameckiContributor IJanuary 2, 2017

Could the success that Clay Matthews has had in the NFL change the way pro scouts rate future prospects?

Clay Matthews was a walk-on at USC. Although he was given few opportunities to showcase his talents, even up to his senior year, he made the most of what he was given. Clay had to work continually to improve his game in order to be given any chance of starting. This opportunity to start didn't come until well into his senior year. Clay didn't think that this was the end, but just the beginning.

Most players at colleges like USC are scouted early in their high school years. They often come onto campus with the mindset that they have already won. They received what they had worked for, a free-ride.

Clay was different, as is every other walk-on college athlete. Walk-on players believe that they have something to prove, which drives them to work harder. Even though they work hard, many never get the chance to start. It seems this ethic has remained a part of Matthews. He isn't satisfied with his record setting performance, but continues to push himself to improve.

I believe it is worth the risk for scouts to look at players with the work ethic it takes to be a walk-on, even if they never got the chance to start in a game. Matthews was almost in the group of walk-ons that never got a chance to start. What a shame it would be to never see him in the Green 'n Gold.

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