PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Matthew Eaton can barely mention the name of the Green Bay Packers’ All-Pro quarterback without cracking a smile.
“Aaron Rodgers, an incredible quarterback. Grew up watching him, so I can’t wait to catch passes from him,” Eaton said with tangible excitement.
What was once a childhood dream is now reality for the former Pascagoula wide receiver, signing as an undrafted free agent with the Green Bay Packers.
“It was about 12 teams that was calling me throughout this process, telling me ‘we never know, we could possibly draft you in the sixth or seventh round,’ but nothing ever came," Eaton told WLOX. "But that’s fine, everything happens for a reason. Now I’m a Green Bay Packer, so I’m definitely ready to roll.”
From signing with Temple out of Pascagoula, to transferring to Pearl River Community College for one season before finishing his collegiate career at Iowa State, Eaton’s road to the NFL took a few more detours than expected. However, the former Coast standout never wavered.
“A lot of long nights, a lot of let downs and things like that. Setbacks, injuries, things like that,” said Eaton, who totaled 512 yards and six touchdowns on 48 catches with the Cyclones. “But, just working hard and always believing, staying focused on what my true goal was, to play in the NFL.”
Dating back to his days as a Panther, Eaton was always a hard worker. He plans to use lessons learned in Pascagoula as he approaches life as an undrafted signee with everything to prove.
“Playing under (Pascagoula head coach) Lewis Sims, just the work-man mentality that he definitely embedded in us," Eaton said. "First day I get (to Green Bay), I’m gonna ask as many questions as I can. I’m probably gonna bug all of them to death, just trying to soak up everything and be a sponge to all the information that’s possible.”
Eaton has established himself on and off the field.
At just 23 years old, he’s a budding entrepreneur, inventor and creator of Protecc, a startup company “geared to enhance enterprise mobility through connectivity in public restrooms,” according to their website.
And, on top of all this, he is now an NFL wide receiver.
As other area athletes look to follow in his footsteps, he encourages them to find their own ways to break from the pack.
“My message would be to separate yourself from everyone around you," Eaton said. "Work as hard as you possibly can and compete against yourself every day. Outwork yourself yesterday.”
Eaton flies out to Green Bay on Thursday to begin Packers rookie minicamp.