HOOVER, Ala. — Auburn safety Tray Matthews received a second chance after being kicked off Georgia’s roster in 2014, and he remains grateful.
Matthews transferred to Auburn after being dismissed at Georgia and was the Tigers’ leading tackler in 2016. He said heading to Auburn was a great decision.
“The last couple of years have been amazing,” Matthews said Thursday at SEC Media Days. “They’ve been the most amazing years of my life. I’ve bounced back, met great friends and so many great people at Auburn. It’s unbelievable.”
Matthews played in eight games as a true freshman at Georgia in 2013. In the spring of 2014, he was dismissed. He said going through those experiences helped mold him into the man he is today.
“I turned everything around on my own,” Matthews said. “But my mom and dad were there the whole time. The mentored me and I just got back to my roots. I had never gotten into any trouble in high school or anytime in my life. I was just 17-18 years old and immature.”
Tray’s father, Carlos, helped push his son in the right direction.
“He said athletic-wise, I was mature and ready for the game,” Matthews said. “Mind-wise? I was not ready yet. I was very immature. I just had to grow up, and I’m a grown man now. You make grow-man decisions and everything has been clean thus far.”
Matthews has made the most of his chance at Auburn. He has his undergraduate degree and is working on a master’s degree in education.
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn is another who is happy with how Matthews has progressed.
“I’m real proud of Tray,” Malzahn said. “He was a transfer and had to sit out a year. He’s just done a super job of really winning over his teammates and coaches. He’s not just our defensive leader, he’s really our team leader. When he talks, our team listens. He’s a great example for the young guys.”
Malzahn mentioned that Matthews joined he and wife Kristi on a Fellowship of Christian Athletes mission trip to the Dominican Republic.
Matthews has accomplished a lot at Auburn – except beating Georgia. He wants a win against his former school when the Bulldogs travel to Jordan-Hare Stadium on Nov. 11.
“It’s very important to me,” Matthews said. “That would be a great way to go out and finish things here at Auburn. I’m looking forward to that.”
(You can follow Dan Mathews on Twitter @DanMathewsATL)
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