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Well-traveled Mattox finds home with Charlotte 49ers

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  • Charlotte 49ers' depth chart
  • Saturday’s game

    Charlotte vs. Campbell

    When/where: Noon, Richardson Stadium

    TV/Radio: WCCB (Ch. 18), WGZV (730-AM)



Martay Mattox appears to have finally found his college-football home.

Mattox, a well-traveled junior safety, will be in the starting lineup Saturday when the Charlotte 49ers play their inaugural game against Campbell at Richardson Stadium. Depending on how the coin toss goes, Mattox might be the first 49er to carry the ball as the team’s kick returner.

The 49ers are Mattox’s third team in three years. Starting out at South Carolina in 2011, Mattox transferred to a junior college in Mississippi in 2012 before moving on to Charlotte this season.

“He’s played college football before, he’s been around,” said Charlotte coach Brad Lambert. “He’s settled in here and has already showed he’s going to make a huge difference for us.”

But it has been a long road for Mattox.

A star quarterback and defensive back at Clark Central High in Athens, Ga., Mattox was one of the country’s top prep prospects in 2010. He reportedly drew interest from Clemson, Georgia, Florida State, Mississippi, Michigan, Northwestern and Georgia Tech before signing with South Carolina.

Mattox enrolled at South Carolina in January 2011. He practiced with the Gamecocks’ defense in the spring, but didn’t have a major impact. Listed as a third-team cornerback before the 2011 season began, Mattox was suspended for South Carolina’s opener against Georgia for academic issues and ultimately red-shirted.

That’s as far as Mattox made it at South Carolina. He transferred to East Mississippi Junior College for the 2012 season.

“There were different things that went on,” said Mattox of his time at South Carolina. “I’m a totally different person now. You live and learn. It’s behind me, in the past. I’m moving on.”

Playing mostly receiver at East Mississippi, Mattox had an impressive season in 2012. In one game, he caught six passes for 152 yards and three touchdowns.

Looking for a second chance at a four-year school, Mattox decided to head to Charlotte to help the 49ers’ start their program.

With two years of college eligibility remaining, Mattox has made the transition, nailing down a spot as the 49ers’ starting strong safety. He will also return kickoffs.

“Right now I’m one of the few older guys we have,” said Mattox (6-foot-2, 192 pounds). “I’m helping the younger players we’ve got, encouraging them not to get down on themselves. They’re doing a good job of staying at the level they’ve gotten to.”

49ers junior free safety Desmond Cooper, who will play alongside Mattox, also began his career at a Football Bowl Subdivision school, Wake Forest. Cooper hosted Mattox when he took his recruiting visit to Charlotte earlier this year.

The two haven’t spoken much about their experiences in FBS programs.

“We don’t really get into that,” said Cooper, who sat out last season under NCAA transfer rules.

Said Mattox: “The focus we have is what’s going on here. Des and I are using some things that we learned in the past. What we’re trying to do is not make it seem like this is a defense that’s in its first year. We want to make it seem like this defensive unit has been playing football for a while.”

Scott: 704-358-5889; Twitter: @davidscott14
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