Parody surprises, amuses Matthews

ATHENS, Ga. -- Although they haven’t even played in a G-Day game yet, Georgia early enrollees Tray Matthews and Ryne Rankin have already received the same treatment as some of their better-known coaches and teammates.

Much like coaches Mark Richt, Mike Bobo and Todd Grantham and players like Aaron Murray or Isaiah Crowell, the two freshman football players have been parodied online in fake Twitter accounts that exaggerate some of their personality traits. In some cases, the parody accounts actually have more Twitter followers than the person they are mocking.

“I didn’t even know until one of my friends said, ‘Man, you know you’ve got a fake Twitter?’ It was like, ‘Oh man, you’re going big-time on us already,’ ” said Matthews, who guessed that a friend from his hometown, Newnan, Ga., or a new teammate was the wise guy behind his now-inactive online alter ego, @NotTrayMatthews.

Why? Because whoever it was knew a bit too much about his likes and dislikes, as well as some of the details of his new living arrangements such as living in UGA’s East Campus Village and riding the university’s Orbit bus line around campus.

“It’s got to be somebody [I know] because they said something about Famous Amos and I love Famous Amos cookies,” Matthews laughed. “I don’t know how somebody here knows that because don’t nobody know I love Famous Amos cookies except for the boys in Newnan. But then again, I know it can’t be nobody from Newnan because Newnan boys don’t know about the ECV and East Campus and the Orbit.”

People in the public eye often become the subjects of silly parody accounts. Search for Richt’s name on Twitter and you’ll find more than just Richt’s personal account. There are at least 10 users who attempt to mimic the coach in occasionally amusing fashion.

It’s a bit more unusual when the subject of gentle ridicule has yet to participate in his first college practice. Maybe that’s why even Matthews’ family members were surprised to learn that he was already the subject of a fake Twitter account.

“The funny thing is my dad texted me the next day and said, ‘What’s this thing on the Internet I hear about you, the fake Tray Matthews that everybody’s talking about?’ ” Matthews said. “I was like, ‘Man, daddy, I didn’t do that. I don’t know who did it. But it was saying some crazy stuff. But it was funny, though.”

As with most college newcomers, Matthews’ Q rating is not particularly high yet, but he hopes to change that within the next few months. The freshman safety enrolled early in order to try to start this fall -- and he has every expectation that he will be able to achieve that goal by the time the Aug. 31 opener against Clemson arrives.

“That’s my biggest goal. That’s exactly why I came here early,” Matthews said. “If I knew I didn’t have the ability to do that, then I would have stayed at Newnan [this winter] and played basketball.”

If he’s successful in the attempt, Matthews will enjoy significantly greater name recognition this fall. Maybe even enough to justify a parody account with more staying power than the short-lived one that accompanied his arrival on campus.