|Mark Humphrey / AP Photo|
|Vanderbilt wide receiver Jordan Matthews led the SEC with 94 catches last season.|
HOOVER, Ala. -- Plenty of wide receivers idolize legendary San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice.
Far fewer have ever met him. And far fewer than that consider him family.
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So when Vanderbilt wide receiver Jordan Matthews told reporters at SEC Media Days that he modeled his game after the Hall of Famer, few were surprised. Then Matthews revealed exactly how strong the connection is -- his mother and Rice are first cousins.
"Back when he was with the Raiders, me and my family took a trip to Oakland, we watched him play. He gave us tickets -- this is before I was a college player that he gave us tickets, so y'all can write that down," Jordan joked in reference to NCAA rules. "We got to see his house. A really cool guy."
Matthews said he is not in regular contact with Rice, but figures "If I keep doing what I'm doing and improving my game, we're definitely going to cross paths again soon."
If his production with the Commodores is any indication, Matthews is well on his way to another meeting. The 6-3, 206-pound senior caught 94 passes last season -- which led the SEC -- for 1,323 yards, an average of 101 yards per game. He played some of his best games against Vandy's toughest competition as well. None of the top three teams in the SEC East -- Florida, Georgia and South Carolina -- could hold him to less than 100 yards. Ole Miss couldn't even hold him under 150.
And all the while, Matthews was working to mimic Rice in every way.
"(Rice was) a technician when it comes to routes, catching the ball, but not only that, he was also extremely humble and a guy in the community that you could look to," Matthews said.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.