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"But I was like, 'You do your thing, and I'll do mine, and hopefully we'll meet up in the end.' But seriously, who knew?" For Matthews, the 2010 NFC Defensive Player of the Year, making the NFL's All-Pro team twice in two years as an outside linebacker for the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers was far from preordained.What happens next, however, when the kid in question is William Clay Matthews III, the latest in an unbroken line of football royalty dating to the 1950s, is a declaration. The University of Southern California was, in 2004, home to Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart, and dozens more future NFL players—a team that would win an eventually vacated national championship the year Matthews arrived armed only with a bad haircut and a dream."I don't even think Clay shaved at that point," says New York Jets linebacker Joey Larocque, Matthews' high school teammate and best friend since grammar school.Sounds pleasant enough, only Capretta's client list consists primarily of NFL A-listers like Matthews and New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie, and his preferred destinations include spots like the sand dunes off the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu and the 189—stair Santa Monica Steps—places where Capretta can readily unleash conditioning hell on his charges."The road trips are something new I've been doing with Clay and the rest of the group this year," Capretta says.
Remove their mini-camps and organized team activities and the only thing NFL players have left is their workouts."We were both little guys coming out, so for me to think he'd be one of the best players in the NFL wasn't something I could foresee.We just knew that if we kept working, good things would happen." Capretta calls them "Road Trip Fridays," mornings when he takes his clients on group training excursions to various scenic points in the greater Los Angeles area."We've got veterans like Keith Bulluck and looser young guys like Taylor Mays, but Clay's the big personality here.He grinds, he gets after it, and he calls people out and talks shit." Just as Matthews maintained his own wildly divergent ideas about where his football career was headed, he also differed with Capretta initially when it came to training.