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Bear Insider Video: Cal WRs Jonathan Brady and Mikey Matthews

March 30, 2024

The Bears experience significant turnover in their wide receiver room from their 2023 squad, bidding goodbye to four starting or rotational players: Jeremiah Hunter, Taj Davis, Brian Hightower and Monroe Young while welcoming in four new scholarship players along with Colorado PWO transfer Cole Boscia, who could well join them with a scholarship by the looks of his performance through he first four days of spring ball.

Two of the biggest expected contributors are New Mexico State junior receiver Jonathan Brady‍ and Utah soph transfer Mikey Matthews‍.

Both have similar styles - quick off the line and a tough cover for DBs with their shifty styles.

"I haven't seen him really play besides like youth football - we grew up together - so honestly he'd probably be more like a deep threat and I probably maybe work in the middle more," Matthews said comparing their styles and differences. "We both could do everything."

"Little things like that," Brady agreed. "We have similarities in (our) games but I look at Mikey, he has strong hands, very twitchy. We both have similar aspects and the same ability." 

"We both can play outside and slot so we can just be moved around and are very versatile," Matthews noted. "So I think it's gonna be very scary just to see both of us on the field at the same time just because we can do everything."

Both are speedy receivers who are quick off the line moreso than straight-line blazers.

"We have forty times," Matthews said with a smile when asked who’s faster. "He's faster than me in the 40.

"He's twitchy, man," Brady said. "Sometimes that means more than speed. But like I said, Mikey has the twitch and the speeds and when you put that together, it's a deadly combo."

Even though they played high school ball in different states, the duo have history together before Brady made the move to Vegas, playing Pop Warner with and against each other as kids.

"I played on the OC Buckeyes and he played on the IE Ducks," Matthews said. "It was pretty even."

"It was pretty even but the last couple of years, they got us," Brady said with a smile."

 "But the Super Bowl? When the game really mattered, we blew them out," Matthews added.

"I would say the OC Buckeyes were a very disciplined team so they got us," Brady conceded.

"If you look up that OC Buckeye team, oh my goodness," Matthews said. "We had Noah Fifita at quarterback, we had TMac (Tetaroa McMillan) on the outside and me at the slot, we had Keyon Burnett at tight end. We had Jairus Satele - he's at Fresno State now. We had a whole bunch. I could just keep going right down the line. It was crazy."

Brady played with a star-studded roster at Bishop Gorman, making his transition to New Mexico State and now Cal an easier one than for many.

"I will definitely say Bishop Gorman, it gets you ready for big-time football, even though this is still a big-time university," Brady said. "So there's always gonna be adjusting and change. But (playing at) Gorman has definitely helped out a lot."

Matthews also played for a talented program at Mission Viejo which just like Brady at Gorman prepared him well for the next letter.

"It was a pretty easy transition for me," Matthews said of the jump to Utah. "I feel like Chad Johnson really prepared us well for this college experience with the workouts and the practices and all the stuff we did with him at the program at Mission Viejo really prepared me for Power-5 football."

Matthews lined up next to new WR teammate Mavin Anderson at Mission Viejo and the due have remained close since then.

"We're both real tight," Matthews said. "He played outside and I played slot. So again, if we get on the same field, it's gonna be scary. It's a lot of speed on field."

So far, the new Bears receivers like what they see in their wide receiver room.

'Yeah, the receiving corps man, I just came in but we're very tight already," Brady said. "We hang out outside of football and in the meetings, we're always competing. It's a fun group to be around. I think we brought in six new guys. The old guys, they welcomed us in and they brought us into the family so that was very appealing. I appreciated that a lot. Coach Toler, his standard in th room, he just brings it all together. When you have guys like that, that you know has your back, it makes you go harder on the field."

Both receivers have established chemistry in the offseason with both Cal QBs, with returning starter Fernando Mendoza and UNT senior transfer QB Chandler Rogers.

"It's been phenomenal," Matthews said. "Both quarterbacks are really versatile and they both have really great arms. They're both great leaders. They're gonna lead us and you could tell that they want to be there and they want to get us better and they want to lead us to the ACC championship. They take control of our offense and they know what's going on. They're telling us where to go if we're messing up so it's good to have both of them on the field leading us. One, we've got Chandler - he's been there. He's been in the in the system that Coach Bloesch runs with the UNT offense. And then you have Nando who's been here and is getting established and he's balling out. So just having them lead us is really, really good."

"To piggyback off Mikey, those guys are just like on-the-field coaches," Brady noted. “Even on day one, they were calling everything out - adjusting linemen, adjusting tight ends, adjusting players, receivers, just adjusting everyone. They were taking charge, and they were just being that alpha guy and that's that's what we need. Those quarterbacks, those guys are real leaders."

Brady comes to Cal with two years of playing time under his belt at NMSU, with 38 catches for 624 yards (16.4 ypc) and 4 TDs as a soph.

"The two years that I had there were pretty fun," Brady said. "I learned a lot. I'm coming into this new situation, really just being a sponge and ready to learn and just having fun with my guys. Winning some games - that's what I'm looking forward to."

Both receivers have been fielding kicks and punts in the spring and are just the type of quick and shify returners the Bears could use to boost their sagging punt return game. Both are hoping to get the shot during the season, particularly Matthews, who saw success in kick returns with 15 returns for 309 yards and punt returns (17-75).

"Yeah, hopefully," Matthews said. "It's always a goal. Me and him, we're both probably gonna be back there returning kicks and might even have dual returners. That's gonna be real scary. You don't know who to kick it to. So it's just gonna be real fun year. We've got a lot of weapons, a lot of scary weapons that can do a lot of things. So we've just got to get the balls and you gotta get the ball in the guys' hands and we're just gonna make plays.”

Both receivers are not only making a transition on the field to a new program but they’re both going through substantial changes on the educational front in a far more challenging academic environment.

"For me, it was pretty difficult because Utah is online," Matthews said of the transition. "So coming here, just gotta go to class. It's all like the same busy work so you've just got to do it."

"It's definitely been exciting," Brady said. "At New Mexico State, I really had the majority online. So just to go to class, it just makes it a little bit tougher, but it makes you stay disciplined. You get to meet new people, you get to network, make friends. And this being the number one public school and all, it's very exciting. And every day I'm just looking forward to meeting new people."

Despite the more rigorous academic atmosphere and increased time demands, both are enjoying the transition as student athletes, surrounded by teammates who excel on the academic front.

"It's pretty crazy to see people on our team...we have a kid who is majoring in some kind of neuroscience," Matthews said. "It's crazy how they go from practicing here just to go do some crazy science stuff. It's really crazy and props to them. I don't know how they do it. I'm already tired and they've got to go work on some neuroscience."

Stay tuned for more interviews from Cal’s 2024 portal class coming up throughout spring practice.

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