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Senior LB Sam Mathews named Texas A&M’s new 12th Man

Like a coach on the field. A real lunch pail guy.

NCAA Football: Sam Houston State at Texas A&M Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

The 12th Man is widely considered one of the greatest traditions in college football. While the moniker applies to all of Texas A&M’s students (the largest student section in college football), it’s personified on the field by a walk-on player chosen by the coaching staff to wear the number 12.

It’s the highest honor a walk-on player can receive (outside of getting a scholarship, of course), and this year, that honor has been bestowed upon senior linebacker Sam Mathews.

Mathews’ college football path included stops at Harding University (Arkansas) and Blinn Junior College before coming to Aggieland in 2021. He earned A&M’s Special Teams Most Improved Award in 2021 before earning the Special Teams MVP and the Strength & Conditioning Specialist Aggie Award in 2022. In that 2022 season, Mathews appeared in all 12 games (mostly on special teams), making 10 tackles on the season. Six of those 10 tackles came against Florida, when Mathews played at linebacker due to a flu-depleted A&M roster.

The 12th Man playing on special teams is an especially important part of the tradition (Cullen Gillaspia was one of the rare position players to wear No. 12), dating back to the 12th Man Kickoff Team under Jackie Sherrill in the 80s. While the all walk-on kickoff team did not last, that tradition was honored by having the 12th Man on kickoff coverage duties. I assume Mathews will continue that tradition.