Mattox making smooth transition

Martay Mattox talks to reporters.

The second commitment of the 2011 South Carolina recruiting class was athlete Martay Mattox. The 6-2, 207 pound quarterback/defensive back committed to then-recruiting coordinator Shane Beamer back in May 2010. Mattox enrolled early at Carolina and has been participating in spring practice.

"My transition has been pretty smooth - I'm liking it right now," Mattox said after Tuesday's fifth practice of the spring. "I'm still adjusting to the speed from high school to college, but it's been pretty good and I'm liking my chances on offense and defense."

In high school, Mattox turned around a program that had suffered in recent years - Clarke Central High in Athens, Georgia. As a senior, Mattox set school records in passing yards (2075), touchdown passes (23), and completions (131). However, with Stephen Garcia returning for his senior season, Connor Shaw entering his sophomore year, and highly regarded Tanner McEvoy entering the program this summer, Mattox has made a transition to the defensive side of the ball. Mattox sought out the advice of someone that was in the same situation two years ago, Stephon Gilmore.

"When I first came in I talked to him a little bit about it and he kind of persuaded my decision to go play defensive back," Mattox said. "He's been pretty successful at it so I wanted to give it a shot."

It seems like he made the right decision, already catching the eye of many including defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward.

"(He's) real smart and athletic," Ward said. "We moved him from corner to safety because he has a long stride and can cover some field. With our defense we're planning on playing a lot more man free coverage this year so we'll try him out at free safety and see if he can help us there. I've been impressed for the five practices he's been here."

Mattox entered the spring listed fourth on the depth chart at corner behind Gilmore, Cadarious Sanders, and Victor Hampton. As Ward said, due to the depth at cornerback and the lack thereof at safety, Mattox has made the transition to back up DJ Swearinger.

"We have a lot of depth at cornerback right now and we're kind of slim at safety so I just want to help those guys out," Mattox said.

Mattox says it has been a fairly smooth transition from quarterback to safety, mainly because of the leadership responsibilities.

"They're kind of similar because - besides the 'Mike Linebacker' - the free safety is kind of like the quarterback of the defense," Mattox said. "I think the quarterback leadership has transferred over to the defense and it's going pretty good for me right now."

It seems Mattox is catching on quick with the help of Swearinger and Assistant Head Coach Ellis Johnson is hoping that will be a permanent home for Mattox on the defensive side of the ball.

"Nothing is ever permanent but it was not an intended move just to try him there a couple of days," Johnson said. "We hope it's ging to work and he's going to be there the rest of the time. We're trying to get as many guys in that safetey position as we can competing for those jobs."

While Mattox says learning the plays and adjusting to the speed of SEC football, he expects to contribute this fall.

"That was my main point in coming in early," Mattox said. "I wanted to get with the team and coaches and try and learn the plays to get to play in the fall."

Mattox - who was literally in SEC East rival Georgia's backyard - doesn't regret his decision to come to Columbia.

"A lot of people talk to me and tease me about UGA but I'm a Gamecock and I love Columbia," Mattox said. "I think this is the best school for me."

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