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July 23, 2013
As our pre-camp coverage begins to get into the meat and potatoes portion of the countdown, we turn the page to look at the next member of our Key Coogs series, sponsored by Chastang Ford.
Our Key Coogs series is counting down the top 25 players for the Cougars in the upcoming season by how important their success will be to the team's success. It does not have to do with NFL potential or best player it is more about their performance will play into the team's success.
With that being said, we move to number nine in our countdown and as this is typed the realization that the number may be too high sets in a little but we are going to move forward with it how it is, junior middle linebacker Derrick Mathews comes in at number nine but maybe just because it is just expected for him to excel.
Mathews looked good in the spring, getting used to the move from outside to inside and should benefit from the central location on the field, allowing him to move sideline to sideline and make plays across the field.
Mathews was named a Freshman All-American in his first season with the Cougars as well as being selected to the Conference USA All-Freshman team and for anyone that has seen him play, there is no doubting his playmaking ability. If it is even possible to increase a performance coming off back-to-back 100 plus tackle seasons, I expect a step forward from him in 2013.
He has again taken advantage of the offseason weight program and appears even more bulked up from where he was last season yet doesn't appear to have lost any speed. There is not a lot else to be said other than keep and eye on him in 2013 as he steps into the middle of the defense and takes a little more of a leadership role for the defense as the player calling the plays and making sure alignments are set.