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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Sam Mathews named A&M football’s 12th Man for 2023

Photo by Ishika Samant

Senior LB Sam Mathews (24) reaches to grab the ball in Texas A&M’s game against Miami at Kyle Field on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022.

Graduate linebacker Sam Mathews learned on Tuesday, Aug. 29, he’ll be trading in his No. 29 jersey for No. 12 this football season.
The self-described lifelong Texas A&M football fan will serve as the next edition of one of the program’s longtime traditions. Each season, a walk-on is named the team’s 12th Man, an honor bestowed upon a player that positively embodies the values of the university and program.
“I can’t even put it into words, unexplainable,” Mathews said in an A&M football post on X, formerly known as Twitter. “It feels like everything I’ve worked for is finally paying off.”
Mathews takes the honors after long snapper Connor Choate held the title for the past two seasons. It’s not the first time Mathews has been recognized by the team, as he was named Special Teams MVP and earned the Strength & Conditioning Specialist Aggie Award for the 2022 season. The year prior, he earned the Special Teams Most Improved Award.
The tradition and legend of the 12th Man started in 1922 with E. King Gill, an A&M student called upon by coach Dana X. Bible to stand ready to play versus No. 1 Centre College due to a rash of injuries experienced by the Aggies.
Mathews embodied that spirit to a tee last season against Florida. With the maroon and white’s depth chart taking a hit due to injury and illness, Mathews played a significant portion of the game versus the Gators, picking up six tackles in the process.
“I just felt like I was the next man up, there’s not really a whole lot of time to think about what’s really going on,” Mathews said at the time. “During the game, I just got my name called up and it was time to really lock in.”
Mathews’ path to joining the Aggies wasn’t a straight shot. The League City native redshirted the 2018 season at D2 Harding University as a quarterback before a year at Blinn College in Bryan as a student. Mathews made the roster in 2021, where he played in nine games with one tackle, then played in every game in 2022.
“It got to a point where you start to think maybe football is not the right choice for you, maybe it’s just not going to work out,” Mathews said. “I’m so glad that I fully dedicated myself to the grind, and look where it took me. I have no complaints.”
Mathews said there are Aggies in his extended family, but his love of the school was ignited after attending a game versus Baylor at Kyle Field as a child with his dad and brother.
“You just fall in love with the atmosphere of the stadium, and it was just something that I never shook,” Mathews said. “I just knew I wanted to be an Aggie since then.”
Coach Jimbo Fisher said the decision to name Mathews the team’s 12th Man wasn’t an easy one and called it a testament to the culture built on this year’s squad.
“You really had more guys this year than I’ve ever had to put our mind to and really choose between,” Fisher said. “I think it’s a positive to what this team is and some of the experiences of some of the guys and where we’re going with it.”

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