It is a two-word phrase that carries the weight of his heart, refreshes his memories and focuses his goals.

Continue on.

Before every Utah football game Luke Matthews walks on the field a couple of hours before kickoff with a pin featuring a picture of his deceased mother, Becky, and the words "Continue on."

It's a way to honor some of her final sentiments to her son when he was a freshman, just a handful of months out of Desert Vista, trying to balance being a student athlete at a Football Bowl Subdivision program while knowing his mother was struggling with her battle with lung cancer before dying on Oct. 31, 2008.

"It was really tough, wishing I could do more," Matthews said. "She always told me the best thing I could do was work hard, handle my business and make her proud by continuing on with my life."

The next stage of his football life comes Saturday when the Utes (2-2, 0-2) host No. 22 Arizona State (4-1, 2-0) at 12:30 p.m.

It's a chance to play against the team he grew up watching, a newly anointed conference foe that wasn't part of the equation when he signed with Utah after helping Desert Vista to the Class 5A Division I state title game in 2007.

He would love nothing more than having Utah's first Pac 12 win come against the Sun Devils.

"Any time you lose it is frustrating, and we have not started like we wanted," Matthews said. "We are handling it and looking forward to (the ASU game). We have some things to work out and we will get them taken care of."

Continue on.

The 6-foot-2, 206-pound Matthews will do his part from his wide receiver spot in Utah's new offense under the direction of coordinator Norm Chow, although that wasn't the plan for Matthews when the Utes headed to spring ball.

A position change had Matthews getting reps at fullback while also having "slash"-type (think Kordell Stewart) responsibilities. By the end of the experiment he was back at the top of the wide receiver depth chart.

"It was great for me because I was going through the line instead of bouncing to the corners," he said. "It helped my game and I have a better idea of what the entire offense does."

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said they realized Matthews was most valuable on the edge of the offense instead of the backfield.

"He is a big body and can be a slasher, but he's going to spend most of his time as a receiver," Whittingham told reporters about the decision to keep Matthews at wide receiver.

Matthews, who has six catches for 49 yards in three games after missing one game with a shoulder injury, was happy to be back in his familiar role.

"It's where I am most comfortable," said Matthews, who had 18 catches for 289 yards and three touchdowns as a sophomore in 2010. "I would have played anywhere they asked me, but this is where I am most comfortable."

Continue on.

There may be only one thing more important to Matthews during games than his mother's pin - his insulin pump.

He was diagnosed with diabetes during high school at Desert Vista, where his father, John, is a counselor and wrestling coach, and his mother was a track coach.

Using the insulin pump has become such a part of his daily routine that Matthews doesn't think twice about it, until he can use it to inform others diagnosed with diabetes that they do not have to limit what they can accomplish in life.

"If people can look at me as an inspiration then that's great," Matthews said. "If I can give some exposure to it, or help people deal with it after hearing my story, then it is a good thing. I know it was hard when I was first diagnosed, but my mom was there to help get me through."

Continue on.

Getting through his mother's passing brought him closer to his two sisters, Janelle and Nadia, and his father.

They lost their leader, their sounding board and their biggest fan. They all turned to each other and found a level of comfort.

"It's a tough situation and you deal with it the best you can," Matthews said. "It made our family tighter and more open with each other. We all had our time with her, and our memories. She wouldn't have wanted us to sit around and let it cripple our lives. She wanted us to keep growing and live our life."

Continue on.

Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or jskoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.

 

 

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