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"If you don't have a junior season, you don't get a lot of offers," Wegher says.
"Clay hadn't developed into what he is now, so he didn't get much attention, but when I asked him whether he wanted me to contact schools for him, he turned me down.
Sounds pleasant enough, only Capretta's client list consists primarily of NFL A-listers like Matthews and New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie, and his preferred destinations include spots like the sand dunes off the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu and the 189—stair Santa Monica Steps—places where Capretta can readily unleash conditioning hell on his charges.
"The road trips are something new I've been doing with Clay and the rest of the group this year," Capretta says.
In Matthews' unique case, it's the late-blooming type whose genetics suddenly kick in one morning late in his college career, supplying him with an NFL-ready body to go along with the work ethic of a player accustomed to fighting tooth and nail for what scant playing time he could secure.
When it happens, it's football's version of the perfect storm.
In fact, he didn't start a game until senior year, and although he holds down his position competently, it's obvious he doesn't have the size, speed, or strength necessary to get on the national college recruiting map.
You like the kid, though, and you're trying to figure out a plan for him to play ball in college, but pragmatism keeps taking over. Kids like this don't play on ESPN on Saturdays in the fall.
He grinds, he gets after it, and he calls people out and talks shit." Just as Matthews maintained his own wildly divergent ideas about where his football career was headed, he also differed with Capretta initially when it came to training.
"We were both little guys coming out, so for me to think he'd be one of the best players in the NFL wasn't something I could foresee.
We just knew that if we kept working, good things would happen." Capretta calls them "Road Trip Fridays," mornings when he takes his clients on group training excursions to various scenic points in the greater Los Angeles area.
Ironically, despite his obvious limitations, Wegher says Matthews was better prepared for his future than any of his USC teammates.
"Clay's parents have done a terrific job of getting him ready for his career by keeping his head on straight," he says.
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There was no doubt in his mind where he wanted to go." Getting into USC wasn't a problem for Matthews, a gifted student who'd always excelled academically. I always knew I was destined for way bigger things at USC." Matthews climbed steadily up the depth chart at linebacker and defensive end, backing up Houston Texans star Brian Cushing his junior year and sharing USC's Special Teams Player of the Year award two years running.