GAINESVILLE – College programs looking for an intelligent quarterback need to turn their attention to Luke Matthews.
The son of former UF star and 14-year NFL veteran Shane Matthews, Luke took a huge step forward as a junior. He completed 60 percent of passes for 2,391 yards, 25 touchdowns and only six interceptions as Gainesville went 8-3 and appeared in the Class 6A region quarterfinal.
A two-year starter, Matthews has seen time under center dating back to his freshman season. The 5’10”, 175-pounder is fresh off baseball season, where he batted second in the lineup.
Baseball is a sport he played at the recreational level but he was asked to suit up for the varsity team this season. He says it is nice to be able to play in games and compete during his football off-season.
Gainesville’s spring football game is coming up here on May 27th at West Orange.
Matthews talked about his progression from sophomore year to junior year, stating that he cut down on some mental errors.
“My coach was very patient with me,” Matthews told Prep Sports Scouting. “I was learning how to read defenses as a sophomore. He stuck with me and it led to a very successful junior year.”
As for the region quarterfinal loss, 34-14 to rival Vanguard, Matthews believes that game will help them bounce back this season.
“We were excited to play Vanguard again and beat them. We didn’t show up to play that day, unfortunately,” he said. “We have a lot of returning guys and we are all eager to get that No. 1 seed in the district, win the district and make a deep run in the playoffs.”
Football started in the 3rd grade for Matthews. He’s always been a quarterback simply because he’s been able to spin it.
Matthews truly values his father, Shane, a former Heisman candidate and current offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach.
“If he wasn’t my coach, I don’t think I’d be the player that I am,” Matthews said. “He’s an enormous impact on my playing abilities.”
In terms of a role model that he looks up to, Matthews pointed to former Oklahoma star and No. 1 overall pick Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield.
“I model my game after him. He’s a competitor and he loves to win,” Matthews said. “He has a quick release, he spins it well and I have to run it like him more next year.”
His current offers are from Tusculum, Valdosta State and Kutztown. Matthews also has a preferred walk-on from UF and interest from Notre Dame College and Jacksonville.
Being from Gainesville and having the connection with his dad, Matthews really loves the idea of playing for the Gators in college.
“The swamp is part of my life, it is my hometown and I’ve grown up here,” he said. “I think it would be cool to be part of the team and the atmosphere.”
As for his biggest strengths, Matthews pointed to his decision making, accuracy and running ability. He’s aiming to keep his interception total under three this season.
His head coach Mark Latsko stepped down on April 1 and defensive coordinator Patrick Miller has now taken over the sidelines. A former UF linebacker, Miller was the team’s defensive play caller the past two years.
“I think our offense will stay the same, but I think coach Miller won’t take any bs,” Matthews said about the coaching change. “He’s to the point and he’ll get the best out of us.”
In terms of his goals, Matthews made it clear he wants to play college ball but isn’t overwhelming himself with his chances of making it to the NFL.
“I want to play college football because I think it would be a great experience,” he said. “Along the way, you can meet a bunch of great people and connections that can set you up in life.”
Matthews was born with football in his blood, he takes advantage of his high IQ with pre-snap reads and scanning defenses. He simply loves the game and thrives in high competition situations. It doesn’t matter that he’s undersized because he continues to make plays.
Favorite players to watch – Drew Brees, Tom Brady
Playlist before games – Canesville, Put On
Favorite movies – Step Brothers, Black Panther
Favorite TV shows – The Office
Fun fact that nobody knows – “I’m a big hunter and fisherman. The biggest redfish I’ve caught is 38 inches.”
Nickname from teammates or friends – “Lukie”, “Quarterback”
Photo credit: Swiphoto.com
Jake Perper is the founder of Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @JakePerper.