Adam Matthews won a pair of national titles at South Carolina. He was a three-year starter, a team captain, and a fixture on the Gamecocks' College World Series squads. It should be enough for the Lexington, S.C., native to achieve a measure of celebrity around Columbia.
Sure enough, fans and students stop him wherever he goes. There's only one problem.
They think they're talking to Connor Shaw.
"It's amusing. I can kind of see the resemblance," Matthews said.
As he has humorously chronicled on his Twitter page, Matthews often gets mistaken for the Gamecocks' injured starting quarterback. The problem has only intensified since Matthews returned to Columbia, fresh off his first professional season in the Cincinnati Reds organization. He's enrolled in two courses this semester to complete his Sport and Entertainment Management degree.
"Hey, has anyone ever told you...." Adam Matthews vs. Connor Shaw.
Matthews says he understands the confusion. In addition to nearly identical builds (Matthews is 6'1," 195 pounds; Shaw is 6'1," 207 pounds), both players have buzzed haircuts, sharp cheekbones, and dark, bituminous eyes.
"Me being on the baseball team, I've kind of stood out, but not to the extend that Connor has. When you're the starting QB, people know your name and what you look like. With [his head] in a helmet most of the time, I can understand the confusion, especially when they catch me from the side," Matthews said.
The case of mistaken identity, he says, happens on a weekly basis. Walking around campus. Eating at restaurants. It even happened while in Orlando after the Capital One Bowl. Well-meaning Gamecock fans approach him, offering "Connor" encouragement or asking for autographs or pictures.
Not exactly. (Left)
The run-ins have recently picked up a new twist.
"I was at Chick Fil-A this week when a guy stopped me in a truck and asked, 'Hey, are you back?' I was like, 'Yeah, I'm good to go' -- thinking he's referring to me being back in Columbia from professional baseball," Matthews recallled.
"He then went on to say, 'How's your shoulder feel?' I said fine, though I remember thinking, I haven't had a hurt shoulder. Then he said, 'Why don't you bring Marcus Lattimore and Dylan Thompson with you?'
"That's when I knew."
Matthews' roommate, pitcher Michael Roth, has seen many of the incidents first-hand. For him, it's an unending source of amusement.
"You can see people processing in their minds, 'Is that Adam or is that Connor?'" Roth said. "It's funny, because I've seen Connor around. I can kind of understand how they can mix them up, but there's no way they look that much alike where they think [Adam] is him."
Matthews says he and Shaw have joked on Twitter about their doppelganger relationship. For his part, Matthews - as self-deprecating as he was speedy for Ray Tanner's Gamecocks - takes it with good humor.
"I usually tell them I'm not Connor Shaw, but I do play for another team. Then they say, 'Oh, you're Adam Matthews.'
"So I guess it's not a total letdown."
Danger Ahead? East Carolina hedged its bets on stopping Marcus Lattimore, stuffing 7 or 8 defenders in the box and daring Dylan Thompson to throw.
Thompson happily obliged. The redshirt sophomore, making his first career start, picked apart a young ECU secondary for 330 passing yards in a 48-10 win. Steve Spurrier even commented that "we could have thrown for 600 yards if we were sharp."
May another big "playday" be ahead? Despite his reputation as an offensive guru, the biggest priority for first-year UAB coach Garrick McGee is mending a battered defense. The Blazers allowed quarterbacks to complete 71.0% of their pass attempts last year, the third-worst percentage in the Football Bowl Subdivision. UAB also allowed the most first downs per game in the nation (25.9).
UAB Defensive Statistics - 2011
Category NCAA Rank (out of 120)
Opp. Comp. % 118th
First Downs/Game 120th
HBC vs. CUSA: In six matchups against Conference USA teams, Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks have averaged 39.8 ppg.
And Finally... One last note on Adam Matthews - I mean, Connor Shaw. UAB backup quarterback Austin Brown graduated from Flowery Branch HS in Flowery Branch, Ga., the same program that produced Shaw. In fact, Brown succeeded Shaw as Flowery Branch's starting quarterback.
Check back Friday for our final "pre-snap reads" before the Blazers and Gamecocks meet under the lights.