A PLACE TO FIT IN

John Matthews, one of college football's most prolific receivers a year ago, caught 21 touchdown passes for San Diego as a senior. He signed with the Colts as a collegiate free agent shortly after the 2009 NFL Draft because he believed he might be a good fit for the franchise.

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Free Agent WR Matthews Says Colts a Logical Place to Begin NFL Career

INDIANAPOLIS – John Matthews knew late April might not go as he hoped.

And Matthews, a prolific collegiate wide receiver, said if that were true, he had another hope – that if he wasn't drafted he could sign with the Indianapolis Colts.

The second hope came true.

Matthews (6-feet-0, 197 pounds), a wide receiver from San Diego who caught more than 3,500 yards worth of passes in college, went unselected in the 2009 NFL Draft on April 25-26, but soon thereafter he signed with the Colts, a team with which he was familiar, and a franchise he said makes perfect sense for him.

"Heading into the draft I knew there was a chance I would go undrafted," Matthews said during the Colts' recent three-day rookie mini-camp at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.

"If that was the case this is where I wanted to be."

With reason:

The Colts, in addition to being one of the NFL's best-drafting teams of the last decade, are not only one of the league's most productive passing teams, they have a reputation around the NFL as one of the top teams utilizing collegiate free agents.

Gary Brackett. Dominic Rhodes.

Melvin Bullitt. Eric Foster.

Josh Thomas.

All have signed with the Colts as collegiate free agents in the past decade, and all have played significant roles. Brackett is the team's starting middle linebacker and defensive captain, while Rhodes rushed for more than 100 yards in Super Bowl XLI.

Rhodes, Brackett and Thomas all played in that Super Bowl, while Bullitt and Foster each played key roles last season, starting extensively for a team that finished 12-4.

There's no guarantee Matthews will become the latest Colts free agent to make a huge impact, but Matthews said the Colts do offer the next best thing to a guarantee.

A real opunity.

"One thing I think they stress is the best players will play, so it's good to know that no matter what you will get least get a fair shot at it," said Matthews, who averaged 134.4 yards per game as a senior. "They've had a lot of undrafted guys be solid, important contributors in the past, and I think that will continue in the future."

Matthews, who played extensively in all four collegiate seasons, finished his career with 195 receptions for 3,615 yards and 50 touchdowns. He served as a team captain as a senior, catching 102 passes for 1,478 yards and 21 touchdowns.

His senior season was the second consecutive season he set the San Diego record for touchdown receptions in a season.

He finished his senior season with five games of 10 or more receptions, and in eight different games he caught two or more touchdown passes. He had three games with more than 150 yards receiving as a senior, including a game against Azusa-Pacific in which he caught 10 passes for 231 yards and three touchdowns.

That's productivity, and Matthews said it came not just from one receiver position but from both the inside and outside positions.

He said he believes he can play both spots professionally.

"In college I played pretty much everywhere," Matthews said. "I feel like I can play the inside and outside, run routes effectively from different places."

Matthews, who caught 47 passes for 1,088 yards and 16 touchdowns as a junior, said while he had options after the draft that the Colts – a team that has finished regularly in the Top 10 in the NFL in passing offense since the arrival of nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback Peyton Manning in 1998 – seemed the perfect fit.

"I came out on a pre-draft visit here and felt comfortable, liked the people, liked the situation and felt like if I was going to fit in anywhere, I felt like this was as good a fit as any," Matthews said. "I'm definitely excited about the opportunity."

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