Thunderbirds to Retire Cannon's Number Nine

Published: September 29, 2009 | Read Time: 4 minutes

Former all-American quarterback Matt Cannon will be Southern Utah University's guest of honor Saturday, October 3, when his number, nine, will be retired in a ceremony scheduled for halftime of the Thunderbird football game against Texas State in the Eccles Coliseum. 

Cannon was a four-year starter for the Thunderbirds, from 1997 to 2000, playing slotback, quarterback and punter. He left quite a legacy at SUU when he graduated in 2001. Not only did he set or equal 10 SUU records during his four years in Cedar City, but he also set four NCAA Division I (FCS) records and was listed in the top-five in another NCAA statistical category. 

Cannon set NCAA records for career rushing touchdowns (69), career rushing yards by a quarterback (4,852), rushing yards by a quarterback in a single season (1,602) and career points scored (420). He also finished his career ranked fourth among all FCS players in rushing yards with a total of 5,489 after playing most of his freshman season at slotback. 

Cannon still holds the records for career rushing yards and career rushing touchdowns by a quarterback and he is one of only five players in FCS history to gain over 3,000 yards rushing and 3,000 yards passing in a career. 

SUU records Cannon held when he graduated include total offense in a season (2,693 yards), rushing touchdowns in a season (23 in 1999), points in a season (138 in 1999), total yards in a career (8,930), rushing attempts in a career (757), net rushing yards in a career (5,489) and rushing touchdowns (69). He also set the scoring record with 416 career points and was on the receiving end of the longest pass play in SUU history, a 96-yard catch and run hookup with then-quarterback Joe Dupaix. In addition, Cannon co-holds the SUU single-game rushing TD record with four, a feat he accomplished three times. 

His SUU records for rushing touchdowns and points in a season and in a game, as well as his career records for total yards, rushing attempts, rushing yards, rushing touchdowns and points scored still stand, while his single-season total yards mark is second. 

Cannon made an impact off the field as well as on the field. Valedictorian for the Class of 2001, he served as Chief Justice of the SUU Student Court and graduated summa cum laude. As a result of his success on the field and his service off the field, he was a recipient of the prestigious NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship Award as well as the American Football Foundation's Post-Graduate Award. 

Cannon went on to play professional football in Germany, where he earned MVP honors at the 2001 German Bowl. 

Following his retirement from football he attended Brigham Young University's J. Reuben Clark Law School where he served as senior editor of the BYU Law Review and graduated magna cum laude. He currently practices law in Salt Lake City with Ray Quinney & Nebeker. 

"I'm deeply honored to have my number retired and am grateful for my time as a Thunderbird," Cannon said. "Not a week goes by that I don't think of my time and my friendships down at SUU and in the community of Cedar City. 

"I'm reminded of Terry Bradshaw's Hall of Fame induction speech," he added. "He said something to the effect of 'you don't get elected to the Hall of Fame by yourself. In football you don't ever get anything that you don't share with others,' and that is how I feel about this honor. You don't get your number retired by yourself. I was fortunate to play on four wonderful teams and be surrounded by incredible players and friends. It's really because of them that I had the success that I had. I want to share this with my teammates." 

"Matt is truly one of the most accomplished student-athletes ever to play for SUU," SUU Director of Athletics Ken Beazer said. "He has been a great ambassador for SUU, and SUU athletics, both on and off the field." 

Cannon joins an elite group who have had their number retired at Southern Utah. He will be just the third football player to receive the honor, joining SUU's first four-year all-American, Rick Traasdahl (60) and its first National Football League player, Lenny Walterschied (27) with retired jerseys. 

Cannon also said he would like junior receiver Fesi Sitake, who currently wears No. 9, to continue to use the number. 

Kickoff for the Texas State game on October 3 is slated for 1 p.m.

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