Biding His Time

Lewis Matthews

Patience is a virtue.

It's also a key to Lewis Matthews fulfilling his dream of playing in a college football game.

Despite outstanding junior and senior seasons at Ferriday High School, two-time Parish Player of the Year Lewis Matthews was overlooked when it came to signing day.

While Trojan teammates Dare Rosenthal and Dantrieze Scott were sharing the big stage signing with LSU, Matthews waited on a phone call that never came.

Instead of brooding or giving up on football, Matthews decided to walk on at Grambling State as a linebacker. 

The 5-foot-11, 230-pound Matthews was told to wait until his second year to try out for the team. He did just that last spring and made the team.

"There were a lot of seniors on the team last year so I spent time on the bench," Matthews said.

Matthews returned for his redshirt sophomore season in 2020, but had to find more patience when the Southwestern Athletic Conference decided to postpone its season to February through April, 2021 because of COVID-19.

"It feels kind of weird to have been practicing the last couple of months," Lewis said.  "But I will play through anything, It really doesn't matter to me. I'm ready to get back to school now."

Matthews never stopped working, and now is in the running to start at linebacker, earning a partial scholarship at the same time.

Matthews, who plans on studying Kinesoloigy, said practicing during the regular football season was strange, that is when the Tigers were able to stay away from COVID-19. But the extra work has paid off.

"I feel like I have gotten way better," he said. "And the defense we play is a 3-3-5 which allows me to come off the edge and blitz a lot. I use my quickness to get around the tackles."

When he was last timed, Matthews ran a 4.6 in the 40-yard dash.

Matthews said the college game is a lot different from high school.

"You have a lot of people competing for your position," he said. "I stay aggressive and do what I need to do. I don't plan on being on the bench for the rest of my time here."

As a junior at Ferriday, Matthews led the Trojans with 106 tackles, 82 solo with 22 tackles for losses earning All-Parish Player of the Year honors.

Matthews also rushed for 31 yards and caught 12 passes for 227 yards and three touchdowns on the offensive side of the ball.

 Ferriday went 9-4 in Matthews' junior season, falling to Madison Prep in the Class 2A quarterfinals. The Trojans upset Ouachita Christian 42-32 in its final regular season game.

" Matthews separated his collar bone in the final game against Madison Prep and had surgery to repair it. He missed spring practice. his senior year.

As a senior, Matthews joined Rosenthal and Scott as Parish Players of the Year.

The Trojans went 11-3, falling to St. Helena 12-6 on a controversial un-timed play in the Class 2A semifinals.

Ferriday defeated Class 5A Alexandria, Class 5A LaGrange and Class 4A Franklin Parish during the season.

 Matthews collected 40 solo tackles, had 39 assists, nine tackles for losses, three interceptions, six pass break-ups and forced two fumbles.

He also caught 16 receptions for 273 yards and two touchdowns and had two rushes for 81 yards and a TD.

Ferriday did win the state championship the following year in 2019.

"I wish I would have had another year of high school," Matthews said. "It would have been great to get a championship. But my plan is to get a ring at Grambling."

Grambling opens its season on February 27 at Prairie View in Dallas, Texas.

The Tigers host Jackson State on March 6.

After a two-week break, Grambling hosts the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff on March 20.

Grambling’s grudge game with Grambling will be held in Shreveport on April 17.


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