Dec 5, 2011; Jacksonville, FL, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews (24) during the fourth quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field. San Diego defeated Jacksonville 38-14. Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-US PRESSWIRE

Top 10 Chargers of 2011: #1 Ryan Mathews

The NFL Network is releasing their Top 100 players of 2012 and there just is not enough Chargers action on that list, so the staff at Bolt Beat got together to create a Top 10 Chargers list based off of their performances from last season.  I was lucky enough to get #1.

1) Ryan Mathews

Not many people know that Ryan Mathews started his life homeless.  For the first few month of his life he lived with his 16 year old mother in her car.  Hoping for a better life for her son, his mother started him in football when he was five.  She never missed a game and he made her dreams reality.

As a high school senior, Mathews led the nation with 3,396 rushing yards (9.97 yards per attempt) and 44 touchdowns as a running back.  He also had 851 passing yards and 11 touchdowns as a quarterback.  Pac-10 and Big 12 schools, who had interest in him, backed away because of fears he would not be academically eligible. Fresno State remained in the recruiting scene and eventually Mathews signed with them.

As a freshman, Mathews rushed for 866 yards on 145 carries and scored 14 touchdowns. His rushing yard average and touchdowns led all NCAA freshman.  As a sophomore, he ranked in the top 10 in the NCAA in rushing yards and touchdowns after four games.  Unfortunately, he was injured in the fourth game against UCLA and could not complete the season.

As a junior, Mathews led college football in rushing with an average of 150.67 yards per game.  He totaled 1,808 yards on 276 carries and 19 touchdowns.   His 1,808 yards rushing ranks him third.   Behind  former Charger LaDainian Tomlinson (Mathews wore No. 21 at Fresno State in his honor) and George Jones in the WAC season record books.  Following the regular season, he was given numerous individual awards, including being named first team all-WAC and a second team All-American by CBS Sports, Sports Illustrated, and the Associated Press.

His junior year he was a second team All-American. NFL teams were sniffing around, so he skipped his senior year and declared for the 2010 draft.  Our San Diego Chargers picked him up in the first round with the 12th overall pick.  The 6’, 218 lb Mathews was elated to be a Charger since he grew up a big Chargers fan.

Last year, in his second season, Mathews missed out on key developmental field time as the lockout cancelled all organized off-season activities.  That did not keep the 25 year old cutie from excelling on the field.  Mathews finished with 1,091 rushing yards and six touchdowns and was selected for the Pro Bowl.

He also finished in the NFL’s top 10 for yards from scrimmage.  All that said, he had a few issues with losing the ball, but just like Rivers I expect it was due to the entire team being discombobulated.  This year look for Mathews to break records and not just be in the NFLs top ten, but like he was voted by Bolt Beat writers, number one.

Bolt Beat Top 10 of 2011:

10. Takeo Spikes
9.   Malcom Floyd
8.   Antwan Barnes
7.  Jared Gaither
6.  Mike Tolbert
5.  Vincent Jackson
4.  Antonio Gates
3.  Philip Rivers
2.  Eric Weddle

2011 Stats:

Rushing Receiving
Year GS Att Yds TD Lng Y/A Rec Yds Y/R TD Lng YScm Fmb
2011 13 222 1091 6 39 4.9 50 455 9.1 0 42 1546 5
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/29/2012.

 Bolt Beat Staff Ranking:

[table “15” not found /]

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Tags: Ryan Mathews

  • jimthechimp

    Weddle and Rivers>Mathews atm gotta be honest

  • boltsfan1972

    How does Donald Butler not make this list? How about the unsung hero Tyronne Green who stepped to fill some huge shoes he deserved a honorable mention.
    Shaun Phillips should have been 9 or 10 Takeo should have been higher because I give him 30% 
    of Donald Butlers success for his leadership role in getting him mentally ready on the field .

    • jimthechimp

       @boltsfan1972 I agree about Butler he was great for us last year without anyone expecting it! Problem is I cant see I can see a player who he could replace on the list, next year he should take Tolberts place though

    • RMainwaring

       @boltsfan1972 I disagree about Phillips. He kinda disappeared last year only because he wasn’t 100% most of the year. Agree, Butler did a great job but not in the top 10.

      • CindiSpears

         @RMainwaring Exactly.  Philips is a great player.  I hope to see him on next years list.

    • @kencaminiti21

       Good points on Butler, Green and Phillips… we were limited to 10 players so we had to leave out some good players.  I guess you could probably make a case for leaving off Malcom Floyd.  Gaither was just as valuable was Green, I think.  Butler was left off because clearly we are biased against rookies and he doesn’t have a sexy mohawk like Ryan Matthews to entice the ladies here at 

  • boltsfan1972


  • boltsfan1972

    where did my comment go????

  • BoogaP

    Great, great article.
    Remember how Ernie set this up.  We all voted and he took the average of all of our votes.  I understand the arguments for Weddle and, in my opinion, Rivers, being in the number one position.
    I expect Rivers, Mathews, and Weddle to all have career years this season.

    • jimthechimp

       @BoogaP Very diplomatically answered! Just wondering who you had at three above Mathews (assuming u had Rivers and Weddle 1 and 2)

      • BoogaP

         @jimthechimp  @BoogaP

  • RMainwaring

    Good article. Very informative. I just read a STUPID article on another website about Mathews and the writer said Ryan Mathews won’t amount to anything. Needless to say, I told the writer what a dumb article it was!

    • CindiSpears

       @RMainwaring Who wrote that?  He is a future HOF! 

  • RMainwaring

    It figures the girls are gonna have Mathews at #1! lol

    • CindiSpears

       @RMainwaring ha ha

    • epadaon

       @RMainwaring HES SEXY! hahahhaha

  • LeonardoVelazquez

    First, I LOVE Mathews.  I think he is underrated, I think he needs to be put in on third downs, I think they need to let him try to score, I think he has INCREDIBLE potential, if he is given the opportunity (and stays healthy).  
    But he does not deserve to be number one.  He was in the top ten rushing, but it was a very off year for runningbacks this year, with MJD at number one with 1600 yards, and second Ray Rice with 1364.  It was an underwhelming year for runningbacks.  
    More important than that, is the fact that Ryan Mathews was only good, when the team was good.  He put up stats when either the team was already winning, or when it did not matter.  Big reason for this, is that in the “harder times” the Chargers were passing the ball and so they had Tolbert in most of the time.  Again, he was not part of important plays, such as goal line/redzone plays, not his fault, but still.
    I love Mathews, but he is not better and did not play a more important role than Rivers this year.  Rivers #1.

  • Bolts_NFL_music

    Wow that are very interesting facts. Didn´t know he grew up that way and the stats all in one article – cool. But as I already mentioned on the “2) Weddle” article – for me Weddle was #1 in 2011, but I love this great RB too. Mathews – I think we can accept great football moments from this guy. Again it would be nice to have LT as 3rd down back and mentor for Mathews in San Diego for at least one year, but Mathews will also do great without him. Charger4life!

    • jimthechimp

       @Bolts_NFL_music  agree with every word you saud there!

      • jimthechimp

         @Bolts_NFL_music *said

    • @kencaminiti21

       Weddle was probably the most consistent Charger but it’s hard for me to rank a defensive player #1 considering how crappy the overall unit was, especially on 3rd downs.

  • @kencaminiti21

    The fact that Matthews — who wasn’t even the Chargers primary back until almost mid-way through the season — was ranked #1 shows how inconsistent and crappy the rest of the Chargers roster was.
    Thanks for reading and commenting everyone!  Next year I’m going to talk EP into expanding this list to Top 25.

  • CindiSpears

    For those of you who haven’t seen it, here is the Sports Science on Mathews.

  • Pingback: Top 10 Chargers of 2011: #1 Ryan Mathews |

  • tank58

    I totally Agree with this!, I almost met him saturday at the Chargers eye doctor but I was a hour to late lol oh well 

    • CindiSpears

       @tank58 That’s too bad.  Next time you make your appt ask when he will be in!  #boltup!