It’s all about staying in the moment for Cardinals rookie CB Christian Matthew

May 5, 2022, 3:29 PM

Christian Matthew #9 of the Valdosta State Blazers looks on against the Ferris State Bulldogs durin...

Christian Matthew #9 of the Valdosta State Blazers looks on against the Ferris State Bulldogs during the second quarter during the Division II Men’s Football Championship held at McKinney ISD Stadium on December 18, 2021 in McKinney, Texas. (Photo by C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

(Photo by C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

It’s been a long run with a lot of different stops along the way for Arizona Cardinals rookie cornerback Christian Matthew.

After beginning his college career at Georgia Southern, Matthew transferred to Samford for two seasons before eventually ending up at Valdosta State.

In a program that had seen just five players make it to the NFL upon his arrival, on top of COVID-19 restrictions and cancellations, Matthew had to keep his head down and hang onto his dream that he’ll eventually break into the league.

On Saturday, that dream became a reality, with the Cardinals taking Matthew in the seventh-round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

“(It’s) a path that forced me to stay in the moment, forced me to stay present,” Matthew told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Thursday. “There was so much uncertainty. … It was the path that led me to be focused and present and appreciative of each moment because I didn’t know what was going to happen next.

“It just makes you more appreciative of your opportunity,” the cornerback added. “It’s extremely hard … to be drafted from that program in that lower level, so once you make it you have a tremendous appreciation for it and you want to just put your best foot forward to kind of stay in this position.”

In order to put that best foot forward, Matthew understands the mission ahead. In addition to learning from coaches at the highest level, the cornerback knows he must be a sponge among the veterans already in the room.

And above all else, Matthew needs to compete at the highest level on a daily basis.

In combining those three things, Matthew feels he can become a major contributor for the Cardinals.

“First thing’s first, you got to learn the playbook as good as possible because coaches have to trust that you know the system, know the scheme and you won’t blow any coverages, things of nature, and have mental errors,” Matthew said. “And then the second thing is just you have to play fast.

“I always say it’s a no hesitation league, you can’t hesitate out there. People are too good. I feel like rookies kind of hesitate a little bit because it’s new, they’re going against better talent, they have a little bit more on their plate as far as the playbook.”

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It’s all about staying in the moment for Cardinals rookie CB Christian Matthew