Bowl Practice Notebook: Jeravin Matthews making move from RB to CB

Brian Chappatta

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Sophomore Jeravin Matthews is one of Northwestern’s most explosive athletes. The problem has been finding a place to showcase his dynamism.Matthews was one of two players last season to earn a spot as a true freshman, opening the season as a wide receiver. After primarily playing special teams, the coaching staff opted to move him to running back for the 2009 campaign, aided by the loss of Tyrell Sutton and Omar Conteh.Roughly one year later, Matthews is on the move again, this time to the defensive side of the ball. Since the end of the regular season, the sophomore has been preparing to be a cornerback next season, again to fill the void of departing seniors.”He was on a limited basis on offense, and with graduating some of the guys in the secondary, we really felt his skill set, based on how he performed in the kicking game, might fit over at corner,” coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “So far so good.”Matthews said he played cornerback in high school, but since coaches have different ways of teaching the position, he is basically starting from scratch. That makes the transition from offense to defense more difficult than last season’s move from wideout to the backfield.”The way our offense is designed, running backs have to know wide receiver spots, receivers have to know certain things, you have to know the whole concept of the offense,” Matthews said. “Defense is a whole other world. I’m just taking it from the basics and relearning everything.”Matthews said the most difficult things to get used to are backpedaling instead of running forward and the footwork to make better breaks on the ball.”You’re the one reacting to the person instead of being the one to make the moves,” Matthews said. “You have to react to the moves on defense, so it’s different in that sense.”During the 2009 season, Matthews had nine rushes for 61 yards. He hopes his move to corner will lead to a bigger role in the seasons to come.”I just have to keep working at it and try to get a spot in there,” Matthews said. “I’m still learning right now, but hopefully I can catch up by spring ball and see what happens from there.”Other players who have switched positions: redshirt freshman Evan Luxenburg (from the defensive line to the offensive line), redshirt freshman Tyris Jones (from linebacker to running back) and sophomore Aaron Nagel (from linebacker to superback).