Vanderbilt quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels underwent surgery for a torn ACL and will miss the Commodores' BBVA Compass Bowl appearance against Houston. Backup Patton Robinette will start, which may not make for a dazzling career finish for NFL draft-bound wide receiver Jordan Matthews.
But if any receiver doesn't have much to prove in bowl season where NFL potential is concerned, it's Matthews. Over the offseason, there were questions about whether Matthews could be as productive with Carta-Samuels as the starting quarterback after the departure of Jordan Rodgers. In the preseason, some questioned whether Matthews could be as productive against the increased double-teaming he faced in the absence of fellow receiver Chris Boyd, who was suspended and ultimately dismissed from the team.
And despite those obstacles, Matthews shredded the SEC record book on his way to 107 catches for 1,334 yards. He eclipsed the 100-yard mark in eight of 12 games to emerge as one of the draft's top prospects at his position.
According to the Tennessean, Vandy coach James Franklin became emotional in describing the circumstances of Carta-Samuels' injury. The quarterback sustained the injury on Oct. 19 against Georgia, but returned to the lineup after missing just two games to play on the injury for the balance of the regular season.
Franklin indicated the surgery was performed as quickly as possible after the season to afford Carta-Samuels as much time as possible to recover to participate in Vanderbilt's pro day workout in front of NFL scouts in March. Carta-Samuels (6-foot-1, 215 pounds) completed 193 of 281 passes for the Commodores (68 percent) for 2,268 yards with 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
Not considered a top pro prospect (he does not appear on NFL Media senior analyst Gil Brandt's Hot 100 Seniors list), Carta-Samuels put slim pro hopes aside to gut out the injury and propel Vandy to bowl eligibility with three straight wins over Kentucky, Tennessee and Wake Forest to finish the season.
That may well explain why Franklin took Carta-Samuels' injury harder than others.