Texas A&M center the latest football star from Charleston’s Matthews family tree

Texas A&M's Mike Matthews speaks to the media at the Southeastern Conference NCAA college football media days, Tuesday, July 14, 2015, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

HOOVER, Ala. – Texas A&M senior center Mike Matthews plays in the rugged SEC, but most days the league isn’t much rougher than family football squabbles back home in the Houston suburb of Missouri City.

Both of Matthews’ older brothers, Kevin and Jake, are former Texas A&M offensive linemen who went on to the NFL. Younger brother Luke is a 6-3, 290-pound high school sophomore tackle.

Backyard games often got “too intense,” Matthews said Tuesday at SEC Media Days.

“The biggest bully is the one that’s next oldest to you,” he said with a smile. “I was a bully to my younger brother Luke, Jake was a bully to me and Kevin was a bully to Jake. It’s just kind of down the line.”

The football fun started with Mount Pleasant resident Clay Matthews Sr., a former Charleston High School and Georgia Tech football player who played for the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers in the 1950s before starting a business career. Two of Clay Sr.’s sons, Bruce and Clay, had long NFL careers.

Bruce Matthews, a Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive lineman, fathered the Matthews boys of Missouri City.

Clay Jr. was a star linebacker, most notably for the Cleveland Browns. His family includes sons Clay Matthews III, a Green Bay Packers Pro Bowl linebacker, and Casey Matthews, a Minnesota Vikings linebacker.

Mike Matthews knows all about his grandfather, and that his great-grandfather, Matty Matthews, was a boxing coach at The Citadel.

“That’s pretty cool,” said Mike Matthews, 6-2, 290. “My dad has told me stories about that. My grandpa lives in South Carolina so I don’t get to see him as much as I’d like to but it’s fun to hear stories about my grandfather and his father.”

Matthews has made 23 career starts for Texas A&M and is scheduled to graduate in December. He is on the watch list for the Rimington Award, an honor that goes to college football’s best center.

Being part of the first family of football has its benefits.

“It’s something that’s very useful to me,” Mike Matthews said. “I’ll have practice and then come home and call my dad and tell him what happened and he’ll coach me up and tell me what I need to know. I’ll do the same thing with my brothers.”

Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff