JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As a high schooler D.J. Matthews was a threat to score a touchdown every single time he touched the ball. At Trinity Christian he played everything from receiver, to quarterback and punt returner.
Those electrifying plays were few and far between during Matthews’ first two seasons at Florida State.
This spring, Matthews, who played at First Coast his first two seasons in high school before transferring and winning two state titles at Trinity, appears to have turned a corner. In the Garnett and Gold game he had 10 catches for 122-yards. Seminoles head coach Willie Taggart said that the junior receiver was the most improved player on their roster.
“It made me believe in myself more,” said Matthews of his performance in the spring game. “I knew I had it in me. It was only a matter of time before it showed. I had to come out and produce every day during the spring. I couldn’t do it one or two days out the week. I had to do it every day.”
Becoming more of vocal leader was another goal that Matthews made this offseason. He also became roommates with Seminoles quarterback James Blackman. Those aren’t the only moves that have caught the eye of his head coach.
“I see D.J. in the film room a lot more than I did last year,” said Taggart. Just the way he goes about practice. There wasn’t one day this spring where I saw D.J. come out there not ready to practice. He had a smile on his face every single day.”
Both Taggart and Matthews spent Tuesday evening at Top Golf in Jacksonville, which was the first stop for the Seminoles booster club tour.
They’ll return to the First Coast on Aug. 31. Florida State opens the 2019 season at TIAA Bank Field against Boise State.
The name of the building has changed recently but Matthews is very familiar with the field he’ll be playing on that Saturday.
“It’s going to feel real good to come back home and represent Jacksonville,” said Matthews. “I played there about four or five times since Pop Warner. So it’s going to bring back a lot of memories when I get inside that stadium."