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Like Father, Like Son

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James Wilder, Jr., hopes to enjoy the same success as his father, who rushed for 6,000 yards in his NFL career. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images.
James Wilder, Jr., hopes to enjoy the same success as his father, who rushed for 6,000 yards in his NFL career. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images.

What do you get for the father who has everything?

Tickets to a ballgame?  Golf-ball retriever? A set of personalized grill utensils? A tie?

(Hint: don’t go with the tie)

Proud papa Bruce Matthews is due to receive the most unique of gifts, although it won’t be ready for him this Father’s Day Weekend. He won’t get to claim it until the early evening hours of next May 8th, but he shouldn't mind waiting for something only a special son could give him.

A new line for his bio.

Few resumes compare to Matthews’ – 19 NFL seasons, 14 consecutive Pro Bowls, nine first-team All-Pro honors, a spot on the 1990s All-Decade Team and a bust in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But he’s about to add a distinction currently enjoyed by one person on the planet.

By next spring, when Jake Matthews leaves Texas A&M for the NFL, Bruce Matthews will become only the second former first-round pick with a place in the Hall of Fame and a son in the first round.

That’s an honor not enjoyed by the First Father of Football, Archie Manning (who isn’t in the Hall) nor by Howie Long (a Hall of Famer who’s had two sons drafted in the first round – but he was a second-round pick out of Villanova).

To date, only Kellen Winslow (First Round 1979, Hall of Fame Class 1995, son Kellen taken sixth overall in 2004) owns such bragging rights among the 208 fathers who have had sons follow them into the NFL (including Bruce Matthews’ own father, Clay Sr.).

Matthews, of course, already has a son in the NFL; Kevin Matthews is a reserve center for the Redskins. He also has a couple of nephews in the league.

But only Winslow, Long and six other Hall of Famers (Bobby Bell, Tony Dorsett, Bob Griese, Russ Grimm, Don Shula and Jackie Slater) have had sons drafted. Which makes Jake Matthews’ almost inevitable first-round selection an historic and very nearly unprecedented gift.

Other former NFL players are likely to enjoy the 2014 draft even more than they did when their own names were called. Here’s a look at a few prospective Gen-Nexters who could follow their father’s footsteps into the NFL next spring:

Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA

Before making the switch to defense, Barr was the Bruins' F-back, a multi-purpose running back/tight end hybrid. Now, he's become one of the premier pass rushers in the pool (probably the best one not named Clowney). And with a couple of NFL sacks, he'll someday surpass his father's statistical achievements. Tony Brooks spent two seasons with Philadelphia. He was drafted out of Notre Dame as a running back but he never had a carry or a catch in the NFL. His career statline consists of one kickoff return for 11 yards.

Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas

Jeffcoat returned to the Longhorns after a 2012 season cut short by a ruptured pectoral muscle. He's likely to play himself into the first round, just as his father did during his final season at Arizona State. Jim Jeffcoat was taken by Dallas with the 23rd pick of the legendary 1983 NFL draft. He played 15 NFL seasons (12 for the Cowboys, three for the Bills), during which he racked up 102.5 sacks and 11 fumble recoveries.

James Wilder Jr., RB, Florida State

James Wilder Jr. needs only 262 rushing attempts to give him 407 in his Florida State career -- or the amount of carries his dad had in the 1984 season alone. At the time, that was the NFL record for attempts in a season, a mark that lasted until it was surpassed by Jamal Anderson (410 in 1998) and Larry Johnson (416 in 2006). Wilder remains the all-time leading rusher in Tampa Bay history. In the '84 and '85 seasons combined, Wilder had 772 carries, 2,844 yards and 23 TDs. 

Tevin McDonald, FS, Eastern Washington

After being dismissed from UCLA for breaking undisclosed team rules, the Bruins' starting safety the last two seasons transferred to Eastern Washington, where he can play immediately. He hopes to play his way into a Day Two selection, as his brother, T.J., was in 2013 (he went to the Rams in the third round). Their father, Tim McDonald, was a second round pick in 1987. One of the top safeties in the league, McDonald was named to the Pro Bowl in six of his 13 NFL seasons and won a Super Bowl with San Francisco. 

Austin Collinsworth, S, Notre Dame

A part-time player and the team's Special Teams Player of the Year in 2011, Collinsworth was expected to take on a larger role in 2012, only to suffer a season-ending shoulder injury during the spring game. At this point, he's a longshot to be drafted in 2014 -- he'll still have a fourth year of eligibility. His father, Cris Collinsworth, was a second round pick in the 1981 draft and went on to have four 1,000-yard seasons as a receiver for Cincinnati.

Nick Montana, QB, Tulane

Montana has thrown 42 passes in his FBS career, and he has all of one start. All of which came at Washington before he yielded his playing time to Keith Price. He spent 2012 playing JUCO ball for Mt. San Antonio College. He likely to become Tulane's starter (he did throw two TDs in the spring game), which will set give fans something to talk with him about other than his famous father, Joe Montana. Strictly for the story, it'd be great to see a team draft Nick Montana next year as well as Jerry Rice Jr., who announced this week that he plans to transfer from UCLA to UNLV.