Josh Kendall

Matrick Belton and his NFL tryout: 'Sit down, this is kind of a wild story'

Former South Carolina receiver Matrick Belton will get a chance to make the Philadelphia Eagles roster.
Former South Carolina receiver Matrick Belton will get a chance to make the Philadelphia Eagles roster. dmclemore@thestate.com

How on Earth did Matrick Belton go from a walk-on college football player who had 11 catches in his career to the Philadelphia Eagles rookie minicamp?

“Sit down, this is kind of a wild story,” Belton told The State.

Belton played for South Carolina in 2015 and 2016, joining the team after a year at Hampton University. In 2015, he posted all the numbers that he would — 11 catches for 121 yards in Steve Spurrier’s final season. In 2016, Will Muschamp’s first season, Belton was on the team but didn’t catch any passes and used up his eligibility.

His football story appeared to be over there, at least to everyone other than Belton. He participated in South Carolina’s Pro Day in 2017 but didn’t receive any interest off the experience, so he spent that fall as an assistant coach at Airport High School while doing a student-teaching internship at the school.

One day, while in the Gamecocks weight room working out, he bumped into Alshon Jeffery, who recently had joined the Eagles.

“I’m like, ‘Hey man, you mind if we train together,’” Belton said. “He’s like, ‘Yeah, no doubt.’”

Rather than being intimidated by a player who would go on to sign a $52 million pro contract, Belton was encouraged by working out with Jeffery, he said.

“That gave me so much confidence, seeing the great things he does is one thing but seeing he’s human, and I thought that I really have a chance to be great. He was real motivational and everything.”

Around that time, Belton also began working alongside former South Carolina quarterback Perry Orth with Orth’s quarterback training academy — QB1 Athletics. While Orth worked with quarterbacks, Belton coached the receivers.

Then another random meeting in the USC weight room really put Belton on his way.

“One day, I was going to work out with Alshon in theweight room, and I was waiting for him and I see (former Gamecocks running back and current Eagles running backs coach) Duce Staley,” Belton said. “Crazy story is Duce Staley played at Airport. Everybody from Airport talks about him all the time. That’s how I approached him. I told him I coached at Airport, and I told him my situation. He was like, ‘Oh man, I’ll see what I can do.’”

However, without any game tape to speak of, Belton didn’t have much to sell himself with, so he signed up for the Spring League, which was organized to help players like Belton try to prove themselves to NFL scouts.

“I completely balled,” Belton said. “As far as showing if I’m good enough, I feel like I’m there.”

He put together a highlight tape from the league and sent it off to Staley, and Monday, Staley called to say the Eagles were giving him a shot. He will travel to Philadelphia on May 10. From that point, he’s not sure what to expect.

“God willing, I do good, and I figure it out from there,” he said. “I’m trying to do everything I have been doing to this point and not let the moment be too big for me.”

And keep relying on fate and his faith.

“This is just confirmation from God that he’s got me,” Belton said. “I can’t wait to get this thing started.”

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