It’s not every day that junior defensive end Joe Mathis (Upland, Calif./Upland) picks up an offer from a high-profile college, but it sure feels that way.
Mathis, 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds, has seen his offer total increase dramatically in the last week as powerhouse schools like Oklahoma, USC and Nebraska have been added to his list.
Last week, OU assistant coaches Tim Kish and Bobby Jack Wright called Upland High to let Mathis know he was being offered. A couple of hours later, the process was repeated with the Nebraska coaching staff.
“I was real excited to get that call from Oklahoma,” Mathis said. “They’re always in the race for the national championship and being No. 1 in the country.”
Mathis added a USC offer on junior day Sunday and offers from Arizona State, Utah and Oklahoma State on Tuesday.
But one thing OU has in its favor is the familiarity Mathis and the Upland staff has with new linebackers coach Tim Kish.
“I’ve known Tim Kish for a long time, and I know he’s going to do a lot for OU,” Upland recruiting coordinator Mike Esquivel said. “When he let me know he was with the Sooners, I told him he should take a look at Joe’s film. He showed Coach Wright, and he was all fired up about it.”
Even though OU hasn’t gone to Upland many times, Esquivel said the Sooners have a good reputation in terms of how they do things. The last Upland product recruited by OU was quarterback Josh Nunes, who signed with Stanford in 2009. He was recruited by quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel. Esquivel said he was impressed with OU’s approach then and doesn’t think anything has changed since.
Mathis originally committed to Washington in the fall, which was a huge shock to the Upland staff. Esquivel said Mathis took advice from a family friend and committed without telling many people.
After coaching changes at Washington, however, Mathis de-committed, admitting he had made his decision too early and wanted to look around. One of those places could be OU because of the Sooners’ history at the position.
“They always have really good defensive lineman," Mathis said. "They had one last year, Frank Alexander, who I really enjoyed watching. He was ridiculous."
Esquivel said Mathis was initially thinking about trying to make OU’s junior day on March 3, but that most likely won’t be the case. However, a visit to Norman, Okla., is not out of the question.
“We’re looking at their spring game [April 14],” Esquivel said. “OU and Nebraska both have their spring game on that day, and I think that would be a better representation of the atmosphere and things like that.”
Esquivel said he hopes to finalize plans with Mathis before the end of February. USC, UCLA and Washington join OU and Nebraska as Mathis’ favorites, with the Trojans having the early lead at this point.