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Oregon's Casey Matthews hard to miss because of name, hair

It's hard to imagine Oregon's Casey Matthews being overlooked in the world of football.

His father Clay and uncle Bruce combined to play almost 40 years in the NFL.

His brother, also named Clay, can be seen anchoring the Green Bay Packers' defense this weekend in the NFC championship game against Chicago.

His grandfather, Clay Sr., played four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers in the 1950s.

Still, Casey Matthews will arrive in Mobile this weekend to begin preparing for the Under Armour Senior Bowl with a chip on his shoulder.

"I guess I've always felt a little under the radar, and (brother) Clay was the same way somewhat," Casey said. "It's important to me to come down and showcase my talent against the best seniors in the country."

Casey's admits his perceived lack of notoriety probably arises from the days when he was being recruited as a senior in high school.

Though Bruce and Clay Jr. both played their college football at USC, neither Clay III nor Casey was originally offered a scholarship by the Trojans. Clay walked on and eventually earned a scholarship at USC. Casey decided to accept a scholarship to Oregon.

"I guess that worked out pretty well," he joked Wednesday afternoon.

Casey, a 6-foot-2, 235-pound linebacker, finished his career by leading the Ducks in tackles (73) as a senior. He was one of 15 semifinalists for the Butkus Award (nation's top linebacker), and one of four finalists for the Lott IMPACT Trophy (defensive IMPACT player of the year).

He helped Oregon to an undefeated regular season and a berth in the BCS championship game, where the Ducks fell 22-19 to Auburn.

"It was a tough loss, obviously, especially with it being the last game of my career," said Matthews, who will play for the North next week. "But I feel like we accomplished a lot. Oregon was 7-6 when I arrived and had just been blown out in a bowl game. So to play for it all against a great team like Auburn was an amazing experience."

Matthews had 6 tackles in the BCS title game and also made one of the Ducks' biggest plays when he knocked the football away from Auburn quarterback Cam Newton late in the fourth quarter. Oregon recovered and eventually tied the game at 19-19 with 2:33 left before the Tigers drove for the winning field goal.

"We had been talking all game about how we needed to get the ball back," he said. "I was trailing him (Newton) when I saw him cut up the field. I just went for the ball, and the timing worked out for me.

"That guy is so big, it's hard for him to tuck the ball when he's running because he has such long arms. It was a big play for us. I just wish we could have finished better."

Matthews said he congratulated some of the Auburn players after the game and told fellow Senior Bowlers Josh Bynes and Lee Ziemba that he would see them in Mobile. Matthews said he knows Bynes from a recruiting trip both took to Tennessee.

Casey Matthews also can seek Senior Bowl advice from Clay, who played in the game two years ago.

"We haven't talked too much about it yet, but we probably will before I get to Mobile," said Casey, who finished his career with 245 tackles and 9 sacks. "I just know I can't get down there and get rattled. I remember Clay telling me that he was pretty nervous at the beginning of the week, but he loosened up when he started practice. I'm sure I'll be a little bit like that."

Matthews should be easy to recognize at Senior Bowl practices next week. Not only will he be wearing his familiar Oregon helmet, he'll also be sporting the familiar Matthews hairstyle.

"Yeah, I guess that is kind of a trademark thing," he said. "My dad wore his long some, and Clay does know. I cut mine in high school, but started growing it out after my sophomore year at Oregon. Just kind of a tradition ... plus it looks good coming out of the helmet."

Matthews is one of 13 Pac-10 players scheduled to participate in the Jan. 29 game at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

The others are Arizona's Brooks Reed (DL), California's Cameron Jordan (DL), Oregon State's Stephen Paea (DL), Stanford's Owen Marecic (RB) and Sione Fua (DL), UCLA's Kai Forbath (K) and Christian Yount (DS), USC's Ronald Johnson (WR), Kristofer O'Dowd (OL) and Shareece Wright (DB) and Washington's Mason Foster (LB) and Jake Locker (QB).

 

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