Get to know second-round pick Yetur Gross-Matos

GTK Gross-Matos

The Panthers kicked off the second round Friday night by continuing to fill out the defensive front by drafting defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos.

Gross-Matos played three seasons at Penn State, where he totaled 111 tackles, 19.0 sacks, 37.0 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. Those 19 sacks rank him 10th in school history, and the 37 tackles for loss ranks 11th.

Before Gross-Matos starts making plays in Carolina, get to know the Panthers' new defensive end.

Turning tragedy to triumph

When Gross-Matos was just two years old, his biological father drowned while rescuing Yetur after a boating accident. Then at age 11, Gross-Matos' 12-year-old brother Chelal was tragically killed after he was struck by lightning.

Two unthinkable tragedies a decade apart. But since then, Gross-Matos has used those losses as motivation.

"I want to do something better for my family and my mother and that's kind of how I approached it," Gross-Matos said in an interview with the LA Times.

He hasn't done it all on his own, though. Following the loss of Yetur's biological father, Robert Matos married into the family and adopted Gross-Matos. The defensive end told Bleacher Report that meeting Robert is actually the first memory he can recall from his childhood.

"He's my dad. I've never known him as anything else," Gross-Matos said.

His mother, Sakinah, said they don't use the word "stepfather." Instead, Robert is their "superhero" for helping guide the family through tragedy and inspiring Gross-Matos' passion for sports.

"My dad is everything to me," Gross-Matos told Bleacher Report. "He didn't have to be part of my life, didn't have to adopt me. He chose me. That's a powerful thing."

The "Fifth Quarter"

Five years before signing with Penn State as a senior in high school, Gross-Matos wasn't playing organized football. But when he decided to quit baseball and pursue football, it wasn't like a switch had been flipped.

Actually, when Gross-Matos first started playing football, he wasn't good enough to play in games, so he had to get his work in during the "fifth quarter" — what his team called the time before warm-ups began.

At a lanky 6-foot-3, Gross-Matos had the frame for success, he just had to grow into it. So Robert, the "superhero" father, invested in a trainer that required two-hour round trips three times a week. But seeing his son bulk up to become a 6'5", 240-pound four-star recruit made the trips worthwhile.

A name with meaning

Yetur Gross-Matos is a mouthful, but the first name was picked perfectly.

A biblical name from the Old Testament, Yetur means "surrounded by family." After learning Gross-Matos' story, it's hard to think of anything more fitting.

View photos of Carolina's second-round pick, defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos, out of Penn State.

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