Tennessee football: Elite DB Jordan Matthews’ commitment Vols’ most impressive of 2023

Fans checker the Neyland Stadium as players run the "Power T" before the game against Florida on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014 in Knoxville, Tenn.1005 Kcsp Utfl0933 Al
Fans checker the Neyland Stadium as players run the "Power T" before the game against Florida on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014 in Knoxville, Tenn.1005 Kcsp Utfl0933 Al /

He may not be the best player in the 2023 recruiting class for Tennessee football. However, defensive back Jordan Matthews is an elite prospect out of Louisiana, and Josh Heupel’s ability to get him is the most impressive win so far on the trail for next year.

Heupel went into Baton Rouge, La., right in the heart of LSU Tigers country, to secure Matthews’ commitment. A four-star across the board, he chose the Vols over another powerhouse program that was heavily favored, the Texas Longhorns.

Matthews is listed as a cornerback across the board. He announced his commitment to Tennessee football at his school, Woodlawn High School, and it was broadcast on The Jordy Culotta Show. Then he shared a video of his commitment on Twitter.

Although quarterback Nico Iamaleava, a five-star across most services, is still the Vols’ most standout commitment so far for 2023, nobody makes a more significant statement about the program than Matthews. You could almost call this Heupel’s Peyton Manning moment.

Think about it. After just one 7-6 season at UT, which has been relatively pedestrian the past decade-plus, Heupel got a top-notch prospect from LSU country. He beat out Texas to get that kid. This type of thing doesn’t usually happen, and it’s similar to Phillip Fulmer getting Manning out of New Orleans over the Ole Miss Rebels in 1994.

You may say it has to do with Tennessee football cashing in on NIL better than anybody else, and despite the technical limitations it’s supposed to have on recruiting, that may be true. However, Texas also has an ambitious NIL deal, and all signs pointed to Matthews going there.

Simply put, this is a type of steal that would’ve been hard for the Vols at their peak. Add in the fact that Heupel’s system makes it hard for pass defenses to find success, and it’s even more impressive that Matthews would pick the Vols. This is a huge pickup.

Standing between 6’0″ and 6’1″ while weighing in the range of 165 to 175 pounds, Matthews is the second cornerback to commit in two days, following Rickey Gibson. He’s the sixth defensive back overall in UT’s 2023 class and third cornerback. Two athletes could also play the role. Here’s a look at Matthews’ highlight reel.

As you can see, Matthews is incredible when it comes to staying with his man. He has the speed to recover if he gets beat, and he’s aggressive. Although his aggression could lead to lots of penalties at the college level, it’s a great starting point for potential.

Next. Top 10 Vols from out of state on 2022 roster. dark

Now, Tennessee football has 21 commitments and legitimately a top 10 class across the board. Their secondary should be set long-term with this class, and Matthews is one of the biggest standouts in the class from that unit. He could have a huge impact early on.