Freshman Brandon Matthews didn’t have Temple on the top of his recruiting list when he was in high school. Instead, he had his eye on schools such as LSU, North Carolina and Texas, which were all expressing interest in him.
But when none of those schools made the 2010 Pennsylvania State High School Golf Champion a concrete offer, Matthews selected Temple.
Temple, to Matthews, is a local school with a team led by coach Brian Quinn – someone who built a relationship with Matthews early on in high school.
“Philadelphia is close to home and it’s a great place,” Matthews said. “I love it down here, I can’t ask for a better place, coach or team.”
Matthews’ relationship with Quinn started when he was still in high school at a tournament he was playing in during the summer. Matthews said that the two instantly had a connection and he even began taking lessons from Quinn.
“I just loved the way he taught,” Matthews said. “[Quinn] never pressured me and said he would help me out with anything I needed.”
“I only want kids interested in coming to Temple University,” Quinn said. “I’ll help [the recruit] in any way, shape or form with anything you need. I’m not one of these guys pressuring kids into coming to my school.”
Eventually Quinn made a scholarship offer to Matthews, and while schools such as LSU, North Carolina, Charleston Southern, Mercer, San Diego State and Texas all showed interest in Matthews, none of them were committed to an offer that was set in stone.
Matthews’ high school coach and close family friend Len Benfante said many of the big schools such as Texas and North Carolina look for kids who play national tours all across the country from the time they are in seventh grade.
“We did a video and sent it to all the schools and we basically waited,” Benfante said. “It seemed to be a tough sell because he didn’t play a major national schedule which can be very expensive.”
Benfante said he sat down with Matthews and his family and asked them to consider Temple’s offer.
“We discussed it and said Temple would be a good fit for [Matthews]. I think he came to the realization that, without the national schedule, big schools weren’t interested,” Benfante said. “I sat him down and said, ‘We’d all like to see you stay close to home and consider Quinn’s offer.’”
Matthews came on an official visit to Temple and said he enjoyed Philadelphia, Quinn and the players who would eventually become his teammates.
During Matthews’ senior year at Pittston Area High School in April 2012, he was informed that he was accepted to Temple and gave a commitment to Quinn. It was a long recruiting process for Matthews, but he said Benfante and his family were with him every step of the way.
“[Benfante] was behind me 100 percent. He left it up to me and gave me his honest opinion about everything,” Matthews said. “He’s like a second father to me.”
Through five collegiate tournaments, Matthews has two individual wins. He outlasted 18 other teams at the Big 5 Invitational for Temple’s home tournament and won the Hartford Hawks Invitational by making an eagle on a playoff hole. Matthews’ score of 64 during the second round of The McLaughlin was the second-lowest round in school history and the lowest since 1973. Quinn said Matthews’ success early is not only good for the athlete, but for Temple as well.
“Anyone that performs well is great for the university as a whole,” Quinn said. “[Matthews has] been all over the media. It’s great for golf and the university. I have a lot of pride in Temple. Kids want to go somewhere where they can succeed and I want that to be Temple.”
Benfante also said he’s happy to see the spotlight Matthews is taking on after rocketing onto the collegiate golf scene.
“Until now [Matthews] hasn’t really gotten any national exposure,” Benfante said. “Hopefully it leads to bigger and better things for [him].”
Matthews has exceeded the expectations of everyone, including Benfante, who said he learned early after meeting Matthews that he could never doubt him when there’s a golf club in his hand.
“I knew he’d compete but I never thought he would do this well this soon. He’s proven me wrong once again,” Benfante said. “I’ve been coaching golf for 20 years and Brandon Matthews is the best I’ve ever seen.”
Anthony Bellino can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Bellino_Anthony.