With just a few short months left until National Signing Day, Upland (Calif.) defensive end Joe Mathis is one of the top uncommitted prospects on the West Coast.
With well over fifty offers from conferences around the country, the recruiting process has been a bit of a whirlwind for Mathis, who recently took his first official visit to Utah just a few months after unofficially visiting the Utes' campus.
"I had a really good time on my official visit to Utah. I got to spend some time with [defensive line coach] Chad Kauha'aha'a; he's a cool guy and we had a really good time. I love that it is like a family up there, and that everyone really makes you feel welcome. Utah also has a history for having strong defensive linemen and getting them into the NFL, so I really like that. That's my dream," he said.
Mathis' host for the weekend was receiver Kenneth Scott, who is also from the Southern California region.
"I really enjoyed getting to spend time with Kenneth; it's cool to see that even though he's getting all this attention, he's the same as before and hasn't let the attention get to him. Everyone up there is like that. When [defensive lineman] Star Lotulelei got off the bus, I didn't even realize it was him because he was so humble. He's one of the best players on the field but one of the most humble off. I really liked that," he said.
Though he's considering other programs, including Washington, Florida State, UCLA, Alabama, Texas A&M, Hawaii, Nebraska, and Arizona State, he's not yet sure what other schools will receive an official visit.
"I probably won't take any more official visits until after my season is over," he said.
With so much attention on Mathis, the recruiting process can be a bit overwhelming, but he's doing his best to balance talking with coaches and the media with his most important focus: his academics.
"I've been working hard on school and I've made everything up; I think I actually have around a 3.0 right now. I'm just focusing on all my classes so I can get through the NCAA Clearinghouse. I just wish that I had worked harder earlier, but I'm working really hard to make up for it," he said.
As Upland finished the season 10-0 after Friday night's 57-39 victory over Etiwanda (Calif.), Mathis is also working hard to help his team win the championship.
"Right now, I'm just really trying to get that ring. I don't want to leave Upland without one. Our team and our defense has been playing really well; the highlight was holding Rancho Cucamonga to only seven points earlier this season. Tonight we allowed too many points; we have to get prepared for playoffs, can't have big heads. I'm a team leader and I'm going to talk to the guys about that when we watch film," he said.
Mathis had to make a few adjustments on the field this season; as his reputation as a threat on the field continues to grow, he's finding himself constantly facing multiple coverage.
"My goal for the season was to get twenty sacks. After our third game, where I had eight sacks, the other teams saw what was happening and started using double and triple coverage against me, so it's been really different this season. We've had other guys on defense, like Delvin Batiste, really step up for the team. I think that, with everything that's going on, I've most improved by becoming more focused on the field," he said.
The 6-foot-4, 265-pound player, who lost a good amount of weight over the off-season, had plans to attend Saturday's USC-Oregon match up, and thinks he'll also be at the Rose Bowl in a few weeks for UCLA-USC.
Prior to Friday's game, Mathis accepted his invitation to play in the US Army All-American Bowl and plans to announce his decision during the live broadcast of the game on January 5th.