FSU receiver D.J. Matthews announces transfer to IU

Former Florida State receiver D.J. Matthews announced a transfer to Indiana on Thursday, adding a former four-star prospect and speedy receiver to the Hoosiers’ future.

Matthews, listed at 5-foot-10 and 154 pounds on FSU’s web site, was once considered the No. 51 prospect in the 2017 recruiting class in the 247Sports composite. The Jacksonville native chose the Seminoles over offers from Alabama, Clemson, Florida, and others.

“Just a big-time playmaker,” said Josh Newberg, a recruiting analyst for 247Sports and publisher of Noles247. “Just speed and elusiveness.”

Matthews announced in September he was opting out of the 2020 season and entering the NCAA’s transfer portal. In August, he had posted — and then deleted — a tweet about testing positive for COVID-19.

At FSU, Matthews had three coaches. He was recruited by Jimbo Fisher, ended up playing for Willie Taggart as a sophomore and junior, and Mike Norvell was hired from Memphis in December.

“At the end of the day, every time you go through transition, there’s some things that fit better than others, and D.J.’s making a decision for his future,” Norvell told ESPN in September. “Fully support him in that decision.”

Matthews caught 36 passes for 355 yards and three touchdowns in 2019, but he also ranks 10th all-time in punt return yards at FSU with 582 on 56 returns.

His 10.4-yards-per-punt-return average ranked eighth nationally among active players heading into 2020.

The biggest play of Matthews’ career at Florida State may have been a 74-yard punt return versus Miami (Fla.) in 2018, where he fielded the ball on a hop, put on a hesitation move, and then zoomed up the sideline for a score. That excited the Seminole fanbase about Matthews’ potential, but it never materialized on a consistent basis.

This could be IU coach Tom Allen just trying to find another gem in Florida, an area of the country he’s recruited well. He has had a knack for finding under-the-radar prospects, whether it’s senior slot receiver Whop Philyor (Tampa) or junior safeties Devon Matthews (Jacksonville) and Jamar Johnson (Sarasota), and cornerback Tiawan Mullen (Fort Lauderdale).

IU quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (Tampa) was at one time a Tennessee commit, and lightly recruited by FSU, but he’s made a name for himself in Bloomington. Now, Penix may be able to help Matthews realize his potential. It’s a low-risk, high-reward move for a Hoosier program that isn’t hurting at receiver.

“I think Tom Allen kind of knows how to get in there and find some value picks,” Newberg said of Allen’s Florida connections. “You only got to hit on one or two and it makes a big difference. Maybe D.J. can be another.”

As a senior, Matthews should have one year of eligibility left as a grad transfer. It’s not immediately clear if he will, in fact, be immediately eligible in 2021, as a grad transfer or otherwise, but the NCAA is expected to institute a one-time transfer waiver for all athletes early in 2021, which may make that a moot point.

It is not immediately clear, either, what receiver room Matthews will be walking into, because all fall athletes have been granted an additional year of eligibility due to COVID-19. If Philyor does leap to the NFL, Matthews could be a veteran replacement in the slot. IU also has another fourth-year receiver in Ty Fryfogle.

Matthews is, regardless, the highest-rated prospect the Hoosiers have ever brought in, as a freshman or transfer. He will be the fourth U.S. Army All-American in program history, following Mullen, kicker Charles Campbell, and safety Antonio Allen.

Mullen and Campbell are both current players and were recruited by Tom Allen, who has the Hoosiers at 3-0 and No. 10 in the country following big wins over Penn State and Michigan.

28 comments

  1. Um…ok. Not sure how good this is for IU but it looks like it helps for a year. Is T.A. enthusiasm and the LEO word getting out?

  2. How could this news be anything but good for IU? Not only are we getting an excellent FB player with speed and experience, but it is a statement that IU is now an great destination. I believe Matthews is the highest ranked and highest profile transfer IU has ever secured, signaling that it’s now “cool” to play for IU.

    My guess is that this will not be the last quality transfer IU gets over the next three months. GO HOOSIERS!

    1. PO, I agree with you that this transfer is good news and IU will see more higher rated players coming to IU, transfers and recruits, due to the past two years. Getting a receiver that Alabama, FSU, and others wanted is good news and he is an experienced receiver to add to IU’s mix.

      1. BP I agree! This is just the beginning of sustained success. It starts with the relationships TA is developing with his players. They genuinely love him. There are 2 types of coaches, transactional and transformational. Transactional coaches are like Harbaugh and Saban, and Kevin Wilson in my opinion where it is more what can you do for me to get more wins. On the other hand a transformational coach works to instill values and traits that build character and from everything I’ve seen from TA he is a transformational coach. Players see this and appreciate it and that is why they kept coming. Our players are going to be our best recruiting tool because they are going to be reaching out to their old teammates, thus the pipeline we are building from FL. Now that the team is getting results it just makes selling the program that much easier. This has the potential to become a sustained level of competitive successful football. Awesome!

  3. Based on the little I’ve read today, FSU’s FB program is in free fall. It’s like a ship that’s taking on water, and so far 17 players have jumped. In the case of Matthews, FSU’s loss is IU’s gain. Now let’s just hope that FSU doesn’t target Tom Allen to fix the FB program’s “cultural problems,” which some experts believe is the primary problem with FSU FB.

    I was relieved to learn that there is not too much difference between T.A.’s compensation package and what FSU pays Mike Norvell.

  4. Faith is Tom Allen’s first and foremost marriage. Loyalty to anything else is always secondary. He’d be nuts to not take some very inviting offers under consideration. The Lord would understand.

  5. Why?
    More money, more pressure, Alabama, LSU, OSU, So Cal (weather), ND, etc type atmosphere = greater challenges = ego power Satisfaction VS Things are going pretty comfortable including comfortable living and ego is satisfied at IU and ego is in check VS Getting and Going for opportunity while T.A. is hot.

  6. Too many IU fans can’t just enjoy success but have to find something to worry about. Enjoy today because tomorrow isn’t guaranteed to us. I have learned this tough lesson – I lost the job I loved not due to my own choices. I can’t explain how much I loved coaching football and teaching teenagers to you but I found my life purpose when I changed my degree choice. I fought hard for more than 20 years to keep doing the job. My wife once asked me why I could be so positive when I dealt with so much pain and surgeries. I told her I focused on the day not what might happen in the future.

    Lets enjoy this team and wait to see what the future brings.

    1. Enjoy today because tomorrow isn’t guaranteed to us.

      Exactly right, V. But you’ve got to consider just how hilarious your statement sounds when applied to IU Football. Remember that 83-14 shellacking Wisconsin gave us up in Madison? Losing 40 games in a row to OSU? Winning one every 50 years to Michigan? The only thing most IU college students and alums have ever enjoyed during their versions of “today” was recalling the occasional nice weather on a fall day.
      Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me 50 years, shame on me.

      It’s all Michael Penix. Without Penix, we’re 0-3. Enjoy the today of Michael Penix.
      Those of you who have “enjoyed” IU Football for 50 years of the most dull marriage a fan could ever have to a program have finally been blessed with a one night stand. But think of all those poor souls who never got to lust in the pleasures of this rare break from the monotony.
      Pain is still being alive. IU football fans long put pain behind them as decades turned to a loveless marriage where the program had little respect or passion to recognize the fan…and the fan had little respect or passion to embrace the program.
      I don’t see today as the culmination of a great marriage. It’s more a one night stand. Some of you can’t help yourselves….You’ve become teenagers again barely on the fringes of puberty. It’s prom night. Straighten that bow tie. It will all be over soon.

  7. This is a 10 of 10.
    Coach Allen isn’t going anywhere. He’s got things percolating in Bloomington.

  8. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. There are considerations regarding the totality of a situation. What one has may be what is best. Unless it’s not.

  9. V13, IU FB’s success, aside from the love of my family, is about the only thing I’ve had to celebrate this year.

    A couple of consecutive winning seasons in FB, while thrilling, isn’t going to be enough. We Hoosier fans have seen that before, only to then be disappointed by IU Administration’s incompetent mismanagement (the Mallory years) or terrible misfortune (losing Hep). I want to see IU build a winning FB program, one that has staying power. I love the job TA is doing, and I appreciate the support he’s gotten from IU’s Administration, so far. I have confidence TA will continue to do a great job if he continues to get the support he needs. But college FB is a highly dynamic and super-competitive business, and if IU wants to sustain this success, IU Administrators need to be vigilant and protect the investment they’ve made in TA and his program. The Hoosier Nation, after suffering for so many decades, deserves nothing less. TA is on the cusp of building something special, at least in relative terms. Many people, even the most loyal Hoosier fans and alumni, thought that having a successful FB program was impossible for IU. So IU’s Administration has to realize that it’s one thing to achieve success, but it’s another thing entirely to sustain it. IU Administrators should be on the look out for threats that could derail the enormous progress TA has made. They can’t afford to do otherwise, because only one thing is certain; the competition will always be trying to take you down.

  10. It’s never gonna be the SEC. IU is experiencing a bright spot in a conference that rarely stands up “competitively” to the South.
    This is basically Loyola of Chicago making a Final Four. As V said, enjoy it. It’s not coming around again for another 50 years.

    And aren’t we getting a bit ahead of ourselves? We’re 3-0 not 13-0. We’ve had one road game. We’ve been lucky with the low Covid infections. A lot of season to go. Tom Crean was once thought of as a ‘hot commodity…..Our basketball program was sold as “We’re Back”…and then it wasn’t. Tom Allen may turn into much the same cartwheel sideshow. Doubt if we’ll see him hold up cue cards, but you get the point.
    Let’s quit acting like he’s the next Knute Rockne when he’s won 3 quality games in a very disruptive/unusual pandemic season which will always have an asterisk.

  11. Well you can’t go 13-0 unless you go 3-0 first. As far as the asterisk? Let’s not pretend all the other teams have had to go through the trials of this season and IU didn’t. It s an equal playing field and circumstances for all teams in the B1G this year. Seriously, if you can’t get excited about what TA is doing at IU then leave everyone else alone to be happy about it. BTW Tom Crean is the coach at Georgia now. That tired, repetitive, take on IUBB is in the past. Just let it go. Swear to God if I have to read about cue cards again I might shoot myself in the head. New material please.

  12. Cute screen name. What did it used to be?
    Some programs are used to 100,000 fans screaming for their traditional powerhouse team. Some teams (a.k.a. a notorious bottom-feeder from Bloomington) are used to 10,000 zombies in the stands leaving by halftime.
    Games are being removed from the schedules that will never be made up. It’s not equal for all teams. Yes, there will be an asterisk before all is said and done.

    No big deal..Much of college football is already a farcical voting contest with over 45 bowl games so all get blue ribbons. It’s not like there isn’t already ‘unwritten’ asterisks. The only difference is this year will have one printed next to its history entry.

    Cue cards.

  13. Also, I’m very excited about what IU Football is doing. All Tom Allen? That’s very up for debate…as was a couple seasons of success for Tom Crean as a result of landing Cody Zeller.

    I would say Michael Penix is changing what’s easily 0-3 to 3-0. His health is what all future potential wins and losses hinge upon. Everything hinges on Penix. Next comes a DVD called ‘Hoosier Football Rising.’ Cue cards follow later. “Call out blitzes!”

  14. Sorry H4H didn’t mean to provoke you. You are absolutely right in everything you say. I really am sorry. Carry on.

  15. Since major SEC and some other major college football winning programs are so use to winning….I wonder if they would catch Tom Allen after he gave his team victory speech and jumped on top of the team? Would the team he was yelling/speaking to be in such shock that they would let him land on the floor?

  16. That’s funny, t. He’s already knocked out his teeth and gashed his cheek. Maybe a broken nose is next?

    Well, sports fans, it appears we’re learning a lot more about 0-3 Penn State now getting completely spanked by Nebraska. And how on earth did Michigan lose to this absolutely terrible MSU team and their atrocious qb?

    Allen’s off-the-charts enthusiasm makes him the perfect coach for scrimmages (a.k.a. games with no fans). It appears most Big10 teams are just sleepwalking through the season of scrimmages. *

  17. I’m beginning to actually believe IU football players love their coach more than they’d love having fans in the stands. Is this The Love Boat or The Love Each Other Cult? A love cult don’t care about 100,000 empty seats. “Fans? Take ’em or leave ’em.” Hell, it could be the end of the world and Allen’s sideline would look like a parade of circus performers at a pandemic parking lot morgue.

  18. A smart head coach puts Jack Tuttle into the game now. Keeping Penix from injury is far more important than a higher ranking because you won 52-7.

    1. This isn’t Pop Warner or a CYO league where you’re trying to get every kid into the game for X number of plays. A smart head coach realizes that, in a constricted practice schedule, live reps are like gold. It’s why you rarely see players pulled even when teams have comfortable margins. You get live work against a live defense that isn’t your own. That’s how you work on parts of your game in which you aren’t proficient. It’s what nearly every coach does in this situation and what you would expect from a coach like Allen who knows the game.

  19. IU is not going to win 52-7. Rather, currently Michigan State is losing 24-0 or whatever the score is going to be.

    Is IU going to play with this OL next week against OSU?

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