When Matthew Craig was a baby, Craig’s mother noticed he wasn’t much of a talker and just liked to hit things. Because of this, she nicknamed him “Bam” after her favorite cartoon character on the Flintstones.
It’s only fitting that Bam plays a position where you get to hit the opponent on every play. The 6’2″, 275-pound junior can play both offensive guard and defensive tackle.
Bam Craig’s football career started in Jacksonville, Florida when he was just five years old in Tiny Mite for the Mandarin Athletic Association. During his first year of football, his coach, Don Behlin inspired him to continue to play the game. Craig says that coach Behlin was always encouraging him, and they maintained a close relationship throughout Pop Warner. To this day, Bam still communicates with coach Behlin, taking the lessons he’s learned about aggressiveness and confidence with him.
Bam is truly a student of the game. He is constantly watching film to improve his skills as a lineman. His never quit attitude and determination to get better is what allowed him to play on the varsity football team in the 8th grade.
Not only is Craig a student of the game, but he is also an aspiring student of medicine. At Mandarin High School, Bam was accepted into their medical program where he hopes to gain knowledge and experience moving forward to pursue his dream of being an anesthesiologist. His favorite subject is currently anatomy.
Playing high school football is something Craig looks forward to every year. He loves the environment of his high school and believes it is a place where he can succeed and be himself. Friday night games under the lights are always a highlight of high school football, and Bam thrives with the energy of the atmosphere. Although he loves Friday night games, he remains focused on the task at hand and isn’t easily distracted.
He describes his current coach as an amazing leader and “someone who knows what he is doing”. The team won the state championship last year and plan to continue the winning culture.
What sets Bam apart from the rest is that he believes he sees the field differently. He trusts in his abilities to make plays by working smarter not harder. He says he “tries to use technique more than muscle”. He is a confident and selfless player who believes that you play better when you’re having fun. He is a versatile player who is willing to play whatever position is needed to help the team.
Other than football, Bam plays baseball and has played multiples positions including pitcher, first base, and third base. On his free time, he likes to go fishing, and he frequently trains with former Coastal Carolina defensive end, Ronnie Mason.
Blue 57 is a college football scouting company with a focus on Georgia and Florida recruits. They build relationships with players and understand who they are as people, outside of football.
Blue 57 realized there was a void between college recruits and college coaches – coaches many times don’t know the personalities of the players they recruit. Therefore, the company combined aspects of psychology and football recruiting to bridge the gap between player and coach.
Kaela Harmon, a Blue 57 sports psychologist says that Craig is “easy going guy but laser focused competitor. He is a very likable person, intelligent and team player. He always wants to see his friends succeed and has high goals for himself outside of football”.
Blue 57 Scout and Analyst Kevin Hemmings describes Craig’s game by saying that:
“On defense, Bam is explosive off the ball. He does a great job of resetting the line of scrimmage and reading the block by the offensive linemen. Bam pulls his rip and swim moves quickly and finishes with violence which allows him to clear the block and get to the ball carrier as quickly as possible. Bam does a great job of engaging the offensive lineman while keeping his eyes in the backfield and using his hands to read the block. The offense has to double team Bam and even then, it usually isn’t enough”.
“On offense, Bam plays with good pad level, keeps his feet running and wants to finish his blocks every time. Bam is an extremely physical, nasty blocker who routinely opens holes for his running back. Bam has great quickness on pulls and is always looking to the block that springs his running back for a big play.”
Craig can’t do it alone and credits a lot of his success to his support system at home. His parents are big influences in his life and he is grateful that they support him and push him to be his best.
He is thankful for the role his dad plays in his football career, from coaching him to making sure he stays focused and surrounds himself with the right people. Because of his parents, he knows when to work and when to play. He is consistent in his efforts to get better every day.
Matthew “Bam” Craig is set to graduate from Mandarin High School in 2021, and after graduation he says he is willing to play anywhere in the country that will allow him to continue his football career. He believes football makes him mentally and morally stronger because of how the game translates to life off the field.
Bam wishes to leave behind a legacy of a good reputation at his high school. He wants his teachers to remember him as a great student who always worked hard, and his peers to remember him as a mentor and someone who was always looking to help.
Alexandria Wright is a contributor for The Subway Alum and sports writer for the Blue 57 Scouting network. Alexandria follows college football recruiting and the impact of psychology on football in Florida, Georgia and Texas.