Mattox’s road to being a Gamecock
By KINSEY CLARK – Editor-in-chief, 2010-11
Originally published September 2010
Six, five, four …
The play clock ticks away as Clarke Central High School senior quarterback Shalonnie “Martay” Mattox calls the play.
… three, two—
The center snaps the ball and Martay, adrenaline pumping, knows he has only seconds to find a receiver and complete a pass before the defense breaks through the offensive line.
“One of the hardest things about playing quarterback is looking at the defense and knowing you’re going to get hit after you throw a pass,” Martay said.
Playing football since the age of 8 and quarterback since sixth grade at W.R. Coile Middle School, Martay knows pressure and pain come with the game. After transferring to CCHS from Cedar Shoals High School as a sophomore, he has led the varsity Gladiator offense as starting quarterback since his junior year and is a senior captain.
“I’m really not like a leader verbally. I just let my actions speak. (When) I’m playing well, the team plays well. When I’m not playing well, it shows,” Martay said.
Martay helped the Gladiators reach the AAAA State Championship game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Dec. 11, 2009. Although the Gladiators fell short of their goal of a championship, Martay’s work on the field led to offers from six Division-1 programs, including three in the Southeastern Conference. Martay chose the University of South Carolina.
“I took three or four visits to (USC), and as far as the schools that offered to me, I just liked it better than the others,” Martay said. “The quarterback situation they’ve got right now will be more beneficial to me.”
With USC’s starting quarterback Stephen Garcia set to graduate in 2012, Martay feels he will be in a position to compete with current second string quarterback, freshman Connor Shaw.
“(USC’s head football coach Steve Spurrier) told me about the current quarterback situation. He said that he was excited about me coming there and that he wanted to see me compete with the quarterback that they have now,” Martay said.
Along with Spurrier, CCHS Offensive Line Coach Forrest Paulson has faith in Martay’s ability to compete for a starting spot at the D-1 level.
“(Martay’s) a very strong quarterback; for a high school quarterback, he exhibits very good skills – he’s fast, he’s got a strong arm, he’s a student of the game (and) he studies film,” Paulson said.
Not only does Martay have the smarts and skills, he’s also got experience with a college-style offense popular in the SEC.
“If he continues to play quarterback at the next level, he’s already working in a college offense that’s very prominent these days,” Paulson said. “It’s the same thing a lot of schools do, including right up the street (at the University of Georgia).”
Hoping to live up to expectations and ensure a smooth transition to D-1 ball, Martay chose to graduate early from CCHS in December and plans to join the Gamecocks for their 2011 off- season practices.
“Since I’m graduating early, I can be there in the spring and get a head start,” Martay said. “I thought about it before I made the choice to graduate early, but I think I (will) benefit more by going, instead of standing around doing nothing.”
However, Martay still feels connected to his Gladiator teammates and does not let his verbal commitment to USC affect his play on Friday nights.
“I try not to think about it. I just want to handle my team right now while I’m in high school, and I’ll think about (playing D-1) after the (high school) season, when I get to South Carolina,” Martay said. “I just play like I haven’t had an offer yet. I’m still here; I’m still a part of the team. I wouldn’t hold back just
because I’m talking to a college.”