Perhaps no cornerback in the entire class of 2023 has seen his stock rise more over the last month than Jermaine Mathews.
Within weeks, Mathews went from a three-star to a four-star recruit in 247Sports’ composite rankings after several impressive camp performances. Those camps also landed him three premier offers, as Ohio State, Oklahoma and LSU all offered a scholarship to the Winton Woods product.
But once the Buckeyes offered, it’s not like he was going to go anywhere else. Mere minutes before OSU extended an offer to Mathews, the 6-foot, 175-pound cornerback told Eleven Warriors an offer from the Buckeyes would change his recruitment “a lot.”
True to his word, Mathews committed to Ohio State on Friday, cementing that he’d play for the team he grew up rooting for every Saturday.
“Just growing up in Ohio, everybody wants to go to Ohio State,” Mathews said after being offered by OSU. “Everybody just dreams of playing for Ohio State and getting recruited by them. And now, my dream is coming true.”
Besides sentimental ties, Mathews has developed a strong rapport with OSU cornerbacks coach Tim Walton. Walton and Mathews talked frequently in June, and the Winton Woods corner feels he can grow under Walton’s tutelage.
“I like coach Walton a lot,” Mathews said. “He’s upfront, and he’s going to tell it like it is. When he first got here, he introduced himself to us and he came to one of our basketball games. Then I came up here again in March, talked to him again and watched him coach. So we’ve kept building our relationship. I know he knows what he’s talking about.”
On The Field
If what Mathews showcased over the summer camp circuit is any indication, he’s not going to have any problem adjusting to the physicality and speed of Big Ten football.
“I feel like I belong,” Mathews said about playing at the Big Ten level. “I feel like this is where I’m supposed to be. I feel like I'm good enough, I'm as good as anybody in the country is in my opinion. So I feel like there's really no pressure.”
Facing countless other recruits hoping for an OSU offer in one-on-ones, Mathews essentially made Woody Hayes Athletic Center’s practice fields a no-fly zone, never losing a one-on-one rep. He was bolstered by his own personal cheering section of around 10 current OSU players, including Winton Woods alum running back Miyan Williams.
“It was crazy,” Mathews said of his support group. “You just feel good when they’re all cheering for you. I showed my ability to cover and my foot speed (in drills). I think a lot of people don’t know how fast I really am. So running good today, this just shows people.”
Mathews’ frame shows plenty of room to go and he has plus-length for the position. Speed is no issue for the Ohio-raised corner, as he turned in a 40-yard dash of 4.35 seconds at OSU’s camp. A very physical corner, Mathews has a knack for bumping his receiver off their route when pressing and running with them through the play. He maintains an aggressive, ball-hawking style of play, but plays with enough control to avoid costing his team penalties.
Mathews showed a proficiency for jumping routes while playing zone coverage for Winton Woods last season and has a knack for finding the ball consistently. He lined up primarily as an outside cornerback in high school and could guard either outside or in the slot in college.
In The Class
Mathews’ commitment brings Ohio State’s total to 16 in the current cycle. He’s the sixth in-state player the Buckeyes have committed in 2023, joining Luke Montgomery, Joshua Padilla, Austin Siereveld, Malik Hartford and Will Smith Jr. Mathews is the fourth and final cornerback to commit to OSU in the current class, joining Dijon Johnson, Kayin Lee and Calvin Simpson-Hunt.
The Buckeyes might not be done adding in-state talent, as they‘re still pursuing four-star Glenville linebacker Arvell Reese. As of now, OSU has as many players committed in 2023 from Florida as it does from Ohio, a rarity for the Buckeyes. With Mathews' commitment, Ohio State also keeps its hold on the No. 1 overall recruiting class in the 247Sports rankings.
Ohio State beat out the likes of Oklahoma, LSU, Kentucky, Pittsburgh, Boston College, Illinois, Iowa State, Missouri, Purdue, Louisville, Penn State, West Virginia and Virginia Tech to land Mathews’ commitment. He had more than 35 Division I offers in total.