sports direct adidas How the recruitment of Travon Mathis intensified and what it could mean for Lanett
Travon Mathis has transformed himself in less than three months from a high school player without a collegiate football offer to the most significant recruit from Lanett in at least the past eight years.
In less than three months, Mathis has gone from one of the best kept secrets in the Opelika Auburn area to one of the top 40 prospects of his class in the state of Alabama.
“Absolutely,” said Cliff Story, who has been the Lanett head football coach since 2009, “he is the biggest recruit here since I’ve been here and probably longer than that.”
It’s easy to understand why and it’s just as interesting to learn how.
Mathis, a junior defensive end, has always had size throughout his high school career; he is 6 foot 3 and 240 pounds. He has been consistent, aggressive and powerful on the field he racked up 93 total tackles, 16 stops for a loss and eight sacks last season.
What Mathis lacked was exposure, a common issue for many athletes who play for small schools.
Still, connections are important in the recruiting world and that helped Mathis pick up his first offer in late November. It came from Louisville. A little before Christmas, Georgia Tech extended Mathis an offer. From there, a couple of more offers from smaller schools trickled in, but Mathis’ recruitment didn’t spike.
That changed when Mathis received a scholarship to the Adidas Showcase in Buford, Ga. on Feb. 14, boosted his Twitter presence last month and developed relationships with recruiters and analysts.
In this month alone, Mathis has received offers from Southern Miss, Jacksonville State, Samford, Western Kentucky and South Alabama. He is now a three star recruit, according to Scout and 247Sports (he was not on either site until this month).
More offers are expected and from major programs, too.
Kentucky, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt and Michigan have all expressed interest, according to Story and Mathis.
“Everybody,” Story said, “is finally realizing what we have been aware of for a while now.”
Mathis is often described by teammates, coaches and scouts when it comes to his recruitment as humble and patient.
“I didn’t even want to be on Twitter,” Mathis said. “I don’t really do the social media thing, but I learned how important it was to communicate with college coaches and show that you’re getting attention so that is why I use it. It’s strictly for football.”
Mathis is being truthful. All of his 31 tweets (many kids have tweeted thousands of times) are related to football, and particularly his recruitment.
It’s apparent that quality beats quantity in the eyes of recruiters at least for Mathis’ activity on social media, that is.
“He has lots of potential,” said one recruiter from a school that offered Mathis. “He’s raw, but I believe his upside could be very good. [He has] Good size and can run and is aggressive. Also, he’s a good student and has great character. I think his best days are in front of him.”
If the first three weeks of February are any indication, Mathis’ recruitment will continue to intensify.
“He attended the Adidas Showcase in Buford and he surprised me he has good feet fluid hips and a strong punch,” said Dexter Tolbert, a recruiting analyst for OTHRecruiting and someone who has helped Mathis gain exposure. “The only reason he didn’t make the top 10 was because he only got one rep in during 1v1, which he won. We just didn’t get to see enough of him in 1v1 to place him. He needs to be a bit more polished to be considered elite.”
Story believes the fine tuning will come in time and wouldn’t be surprised if Mathis landed 30 offers by National Signing Day next year.
“I am proud of myself,” Mathis said, “because I am proud of where I came from.”
And in making it this far, Mathis has proved that it can start at a school like Lanett.
“It is something very unique for us,” Story said. “The perception is the kids at bigger schools can play at bigger colleges and kids from small schools can’t. Travon’s situation has done a lot for the kids’ morale on the team. It makes them think that they have a chance to do the same thing. It shows that Lanett can be on the map, Lanett can have a kid sign Division I. He is going to give us an avenue in our feeder program. This absolutely means a great deal to us.”