NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews says he’s just fine and he never had any concussion symptoms.
The receiver said he vomited in last week’s season opener because he had been hit in the stomach.
Cameras showed Matthews being ill twice on the field a play after being hit hard by Ole Miss safety Cody Prewitt, leading to questions the receiver suffered a concussion. The senior receiver then sat out a play before returning. He wound up matching his personal high with 10 catches for a career-best 178 yards despite being double-teamed all night.
“If you look at the hit, I definitely got hit in the stomach,” Matthews said. “I think people were worried that I went back out there too fast, but we have a top-notch training staff. They knew that there were no concussions symptoms. They saw that I felt fine. My eyes weren’t dilated and I wasn’t looking crazy, so they knew I was ready to play.”
That didn’t stop people from being worried. Matthews said his grandmother was upset that something might have happened to him but that he wasn’t going to let a little “throw-up” sideline him.
“People try to make a big deal about it, but I think any of my teammates would have done the same thing,” Matthews said.
Matthews had a very busy and physically stressing night in the opener. He went to the locker room for intravenous fluids early in the third quarter after his body cramped up, and the receiver credited strength coach Dwight Galt with helping him be mentally tough after all the offseason workouts.
Vanderbilt coach James Franklin says concussions have been a hot topic all year. He also said he heard the decision for Matthews and other players to return to the game has been discussed too, and Franklin made it very clear Monday that coaches at Vanderbilt do not make that call.
“That is a decision that is made by the medical staff, and I believe we have one of the finest medical staffs in the country …,” Franklin said. “I want everybody to understand that we will never do anything to put any of our players in jeopardy.”
Matthews was first-team All-Southeastern Conference last season when he caught 94 passes for 1,323 yards. He now leads all SEC receivers in both catches and yards after his performance against Ole Miss.
“I don’t think there’s any argument that you want to try to eliminate Jordan Matthews, if possible,” Franklin said of opposing teams.
The Commodores, who host Austin Peay (0-1) on Saturday night, are playing without their second-leading receiver last season. Chris Boyd was suspended Aug. 16 when charged with allegedly advising one of the defendants how to cover up a rape in a campus dormitory in June involving four players dismissed later that month.
That leaves Jonathan Krause as the only other receiver with experience, and Krause caught only nine of his 56 career passes last season. He had six receptions against Ole Miss. Freshman Jordan Cunningham played but did not catch a pass.
Matthews sees the extra attention as a sign of respect.
“That’s not something I had when I came into college, so it’s something I worked for,” Matthews said.
The receiver also appreciates the challenge of proving he can be successful even with more defenders on him.
“It helps me realize, `OK, I’m getting better as a player but it also shows that teams are respecting me, not just me but also the passing game that we have,” Franklin said. “It’s kind of exciting when you think about it.”