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May 4, 2012

Improved Mathis ready for Challenge

MORE: Five-Star Challenge | Underclassmen Challenge

Joe Mathis is just like most every player that has committed to attending the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge in that he wants to maximize his exposure.

The main difference between the four-star defensive end from Upland (Calif.) High and the rest of the competitors is that he doesn't want to show skills that he has gained, rather he wants to show what he has lost.

"I am probably down to 245 pounds right now," he said. "Some people were telling me I was going to have to switch to defensive tackle with my body type and I didn't want any part of that."

Mathis is listed on his Rivals.com profile at 6 feet 4 and 254 pounds. He said that he had gotten to as high as the mid-260s but has since trimmed back down.

"My dad had me taking a bunch of protein and I was getting big," he said. "But I got off that because I want to stay a stand-up defensive end. I am doing more cardio work now, too.

"At the last camp I went to I balled hard and my body is looking good."

Mathis is currently ranked as the No. 9 defensive end and the No. 93 overall player in the Rivals 100. He committed to Washington very early in the recruiting process but has seen his stock skyrocket and has decided to slow down and open his recruitment.

With more than 35 offers from coast-to-coast, Mathis will have his choice of schools to attend much the same way he has had his choice of camps to attend.

The competition level expected to attend the invitation-only Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge made his decision to go to Lakewood Stadium in Atlanta from June 22-24 much easier than will be his college commitment.

"When (Rivals.com West Coach Analyst) Adam Gorney asked me if I wanted to go and he told me about it, I was excited," Mathis said. "I wanted to show everyone what kind of progress I have been making.

"I have been hitting the hills and training hard. I think there is always room for improvement and I have been working hard."

He has also been working hard to bump his ranking.

"I am still mad about them," he said. "I think I am low and that I am being underrated. I get to go show that I am better than that and doing it against the best around will leave no questions asked."

As his video continues to make the rounds and more offers come in, Mathis said that his time on the phone has to be balanced with working out and staying eligible.

"It is wild," he said. "It is like we are already in the NFL or something. I have homework to do and I am trying to work out and coaches and people are always calling. It cuts into my workouts sometimes but I have to stay focused."

The next thing in his sights is continuing to push towards the body he wants to show off in Atlanta.

"I am close to having a six-pack," he said. "People won't be pushing me to defensive tackle when I am in that kind of shape."

Mike Farrell's take

Mathis could be one of the most talented prospects overall in the country and now that he has re-shaped his body and is a pure end, or some say an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, I want to see how quick he is off the edge and changing direction. He's a competitor there's no doubt about that and he has done very well on the camp circuit so far this spring so this will be his ultimate test. Those big linemen we have coming to the challenge will try to get their hands on him and now that he's lighter, what happens if they do? Or can they even touch him with his added speed and quickness? He's looking to see his stock soar even more and I think he could give linemen a lot of trouble in Atlanta.



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