Brianna Campbell / The Collegian
Ryan Mathews heads south as the 12th pick in the first round
When NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell walked onto the stage to announce the first pick of the 2010 NFL Draft, former Fresno State running back Ryan Mathews waited for his name to be called.
In a surprise move, the San Diego Chargers traded up from the 28th pick to select Ryan Mathews at number 12 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City for the NFL’s 75th draft.
“With the 12th pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the San Diego Chargers select Ryan Mathews, running back, Fresno State,” Goodell announced live on ESPN.
The Chargers traded up from the 28th pick of this year’s draft to secure the No. 12 selection from the Miami Dolphins.
The selection of Mathews meets an immediate need for the Chargers. The team chose not to retain running back LaDainian Tomlinson after the 2009 season. Tomlinson is considered one of the best players to ever wear a Chargers uniform. Mathews will be expected to step in as a rookie and contribute right away to a team that struggled to rush the football last year.
The Chargers were ranked next to last in rushing totals last season. With Tomlinson at the helm and sharing carries with running back Darren Sproles, the team finished ranked 31st in the NFL in rushing, with 1,433 yards on 427 carries with an average of 3.3 yards an attempt. Mathews will hope to improve those numbers next season.
During Mathews’ junior year, he rushed for a Fresno State single-season record 1,808 yards and 19 touchdowns. Mathews also caught 11 receptions for 122 yards as a receiver out of the backfield. The junior from Bakersfield led the nation in rushing with more than 150 yards on the ground.
Mathews impressed NFL scouts, including the Chargers front office at the combine in February with his speed and quickness.
“Once he ran that 4.37 at the combine at five-eleven-and-a-half, 220 pounds that solidify a first-round grade,” ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said.
The selection of Mathews by the Chargers was expected after Chargers’ general manager, A.J. Smith, made an appearance during Fresno State’s pro day on March 17.
Mathews will look to continue his success as a football player from the college level to the pro level.
As a Bulldog, Mathews finished his collegiate career as one of the best runners to ever play at Fresno State. He shattered numerous school-records during his three years as a ‘Dog. Mathews left as Fresno State’s all-time rushing touchdown leader with 39 career scores on the ground.
Mathews also set new school records during his 2009 campaign. He holds the record for most 100-yard games in a season with 11 and consecutive 100-yard games with nine.
For his career, Mathews carried the rock 534 times for 3,280 yards while averaging six yards a carry in 31 career games. As a receiver, Mathews caught 19 passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns.
Mathews will look to translate his talents from a Fresno State Bulldog to a San Diego Charger.