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Texas A&M Football

'It has been a hell of a ride': 12th Man Sam Mathews recalls A&M career

February 9, 2024

Sam Mathews' path to Aggieland was not the easiest, but paid off big time in the end, being named Texas A&M's 12th Man and leading tackler in his last game in Maroon & White. Mathews joined TexAgs Radio to detail his favorite moments from his football career. 

Key notes from Sam Mathews interview

  • I am training with Ainias Smith's father, coach Mo. He has been kicking my butt the last couple of weeks. You have to trust the process. He will get me there.
  • The goal is the NFL. Hopefully, I will get an opportunity to go play and keep chasing my dream. I have already accomplished more than I have ever dreamed of accomplishing here at A&M. It has been a hell of a ride.
  • Coming out of high school, I played quarterback, and I dreamed of getting the big division I offer and going to win the Heisman or something. Sadly, that never came.
  • I had maybe 12 to 13 offers from DII, DII and junior colleges combined. I decided to go to Searcy, Arkansas and accepted a scholarship at Harding University. They actually just won the DII national championship, which is pretty cool. Arkansas wasn't for me. I was not a fan of the offense they were running.
  • I was hoping to get into Texas A&M right away. I took Bible and chapel classes at Harding, and those did not transfer great to the four-year university. I had to go to Blinn in Bryan for an entire year and be a student. I was getting the credits to walk onto A&M's football team.
  • I got into A&M. This was 2020. It felt like another hurdle I had to jump over. It was more waiting and going to the field and lifting for when the opportunity came. Spring of 2021 came up, and I got the opportunity to walk on. That is when things started working for me. 
  • Walking on is a tough road. You are there, but you are not given the opportunity that some of the higher recruits that they have brought in are given. It takes a lot of patience and hard work. I found a home in special teams. That's what everyone told me to do. I really enjoyed it. 
  • For anyone walking on who needs advice, I would tell them to take it seriously. Special teams is the route to go, and maybe you will get your start one day as I did.
  • Going into spring ball, I went to our eligibility advisor and asked him. My mom was bugging me and wondered if I had one or two more years left. I talked to him, and he said I was out of eligibility. I was distraught. I had only played two seasons of college football. We went through this long process and had to send in a waiver. It took a couple of months. It got approved, God willing. Everything took off from there, and I had a great year.
  • I did not have another choice when I was waiting for them to make a decision. It was either to be complacent or if it did get approved, I would have been at a bad point physically and mentally. I tried to be as professional as possible about the whole thing.
  • It all sparked when we went down against Florida, and we needed help on defense. Coach D.J. Durkin came to me and asked if I was ready. I told him I was waiting for this moment. I had a couple of good tackles in the last quarter I played. This year's bowl game got my start. I appreciate the coaches having all the confidence in the world in me to go out and perform.
  • I had never played the position I started in the Texas Bowl. It was a lot of learning and going over the film. You have to be locked in. Some of those drives got long against Oklahoma State. You are signed up to play 14 to 15 play drives if it gets that long. Physically, it was draining. Mentally, it is so much more intricate. I am glad I rose to the occasion.
  • I may have blacked out a little bit when I had my interception in the Texas Bowl. Starting the play, it was two high. We were playing inside and underneath leverage with our guys on the line. All I had to do was roof everybody and stay up top. I got in my backpedal and saw the quarterback looking the inside seem guy. As soon as he threw it, I knew it was coming to me. I just focused on catching the ball. I secured it and got down. The whole crowd was going crazy. I knew which area my family was in so I ran over there. I wanted to celebrate with them and the rest of the 12th Man. 
  • Whenever I walked on, I did not have my eyes set on being the 12th Man. I really dedicated myself fully to being a walkon. You start building and stacking days, and then it becomes an achievable idea. Whenever they made the announcement, everything I had been working for was coming true.
  • There was relief, and I knew I had real work to do. It was a long time coming. Jimbo Fisher announced it a few days before the first game. I was waiting day by day. That was an amazing experience.
  • My good friends on the team were obviously the walk-ons. It was great to stick with them through the entire process. Demani Richardson was a great mentor for me. he saw something in me. Guys like Edgerrin Cooper, who I have seen grow into this stud of a linebacker. Ainias Smith is the best leader I've been around.
  • On my first day on the team, they had safety depth issues. I was thrown into the 3s or 2s. Maybe I got lost trying to cover Ainias and Moose Muhammad at times. My first spring, I had a pick on Haynes King covering Ainias. At the time, I don't know if I got lucky, that boosted my confidence. Maybe that is where the journey started for me.
  • This has been one of the greatest teams I have been around. Some of the people are invaluable. It is tough to digest that we did not accomplish everything we set out to. In the pursuit of that, we learned many lessons and learned about ourselves that we can take past football. Jimbo got let go, and the team had to bond together.
  • I really enjoy coach Mike Elko. I had him as my defensive coordinator in my first year here. He has a great mindset and relatble to the guys. I think he will bring a great culture here and a winning culture that will take the SEC by storm.
  • The kids seem bought in. I am interested to see what they do next year. Hopefully can score some sideline passes to watch it in person.
  • If I can go to the Texas game, that will be life-changing for me.
  • In my extended family, there are Aggies. In my immediate family, I am the first Aggie. My dad was in the military for 20-something years. My mom went to SFA. My older brother was a running back at a DIII University. My sister went everywhere.
  • Conner Weigman is special. There is something about him. He has the IT factor. Whenever people talk about Johnny Manziel, that is everything I see in Conner. I am praying that we get a full year with him.
  • He is a personal guy. I don't have enough great things to say about the kid. I hope he embraces a leadership role.
  • Jaylen Henderson, I cannot thank him enough. He is a great kid and a great player. He really did his thing when the opp arose. It is the same he went down the first play.
  • Marcel Reed stepped in. He has been a kid I have loved since he was here. He just wants to be a friend. It was great to see him dominant.
  • I graduated with a University Studies Business degree at Texas A&M. My ultimate goal is somewhere past football, hopefully, to operate my own business. I have no idea yet. I have a bunch of ideas. I would love the idea to work myself.
Discussion from...

'It has been a hell of a ride': 12th Man Sam Mathews recalls A&M career

5,926 Views | 4 Replies | Last: 14 days ago by NewEra2023
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Thanks Sam for all you've done here and good luck for whatever the future holds!
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Based on the bowl game, jimbo and the defensive coaches were poor talent evaluators. I know captain obvious.
Just more proof how poorly run the team has been
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Wish more like him came through the system often.

#12 should always be given to the toughest walk-on tackler like he was.

Don't ever give it to a ****ing Long-Snapper again… who transferred in
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