By John Davis, Oxford Citizen
John Davis: I know a lot about you through the recruiting services, but what don’t we know about you as a player? What are the services maybe missing?
Bryce Mathews: One of the big things about choosing Ole Miss was Coach Freeze. He is a man of faith and I think he brings that Christ-like element to the football program. It’s something you really can’t find many places at the collegiate level. I’ve grown up in the church with my family. We’re all Christians, so that was a big part of it. When you got to college, there are a lot of people that turn away from their faith, so I think it’s really cool what he is implementing into the football program. I think it’s really cool that he can bring faith to his players.
Davis: What’s not on your stat sheet? We know you’re 6-6 and your weight and all that, but that doesn’t necessarily define a player. What kind of player would you call yourself? Are you a better run blocker? A better pass blocker?
Mathews: I would say I’m better at pass blocking now. Run blocking is something I’m working on improving this year. I would say I’m a very cerebral player. I think I’m pretty intelligent and pretty good at reading defenses and seeing how they are lining up. I like to use that to my advantage. I like to think I have pretty quick feet, and that helps me out a lot, too.
Davis: Do you believe that you are the top player in the state of Tennessee? That’s a major deal for Ole Miss. I know they have recruited Tennessee very hard. I know Alex Givens is your former teammate, but at the same time, for Ole Miss to get the top player out of Tennessee, that’s a pretty big deal.
Mathews: I can’t really tell how I am as a player. It’s really a blessing to me. It kind of blows my mind. I just go in everyday and do my job and I try not to draw a whole lot of attention to myself. I guess people have seen something in me that makes me look like a really good player. It really is just a blessing.
Davis: Did you see this coming? Did you see yourself as a four-star guy or did you know you were having success at these different camps heading into your junior and senior years?
Mathews: When I started going to camps, schools were looking at me and saying ‘Yeah, he’ll probably be an SEC kind of guy.’ I was thinking ‘Wow, really, me?’ I was pretty skinny at the time and not a very good player, but I kept going to these camps. I knew the rankings would be coming out soon and I was thinking ‘Well, maybe if I’m lucky I can be a three star and get a little bit of attention.’ When they came out, they had me as a four star and that blew my mind. I was like ‘Wow, I guess I have more talent than I thought I did.’ It just kind of stuck from there.
Davis: Did you talk with Alex about coming to Ole Miss? How much of an influence was he?
Mathews: He was definitely a big influence. I was able to hang out with him here in Nashville before he went down there. He is rooming with Dawson Knox, who is a walk-on that went to my high school. Having both of those guys down there, and getting to hang out with both of them before they went down to Oxford, and also being able to stay with them down in Oxford this summer. I hung out with them a lot in their dorm room. That was definitely great.
Davis: Did you come for camp?
Mathews: This summer I just came for a visit. I was there during the camp, but I had basketball going on so I didn’t do the camp. I stayed the night in Oxford.
Davis: And how big are you now?
Mathews: I’m about 280.
Davis: That’s the kind of tackle that Coach (Matt) Luke likes. They don’t like a guy that is too heavy. This style of offense for a tackle is one where you have to be a little faster, more athletic. Is that what you see from the offense?
Mathews: Yes, sir. That’s one thing Coach Luke wants me to do is to not gain too much weight. He said that they would be able to put it on themselves and put it on the right way. I think it helps when you run an up tempo offense, no huddle, you need somebody that moves faster. I think it will be to my advantage to move pretty fast for a big guy.
Davis: What are you expectations? Do you want to try and redshirt? I know for offensive linemen that it’s hard sometimes to crack a starting lineup as a true freshman. So in that regard, do you think you’re going to redshirt because that’s what most offensive linemen do? Or do you take it as it comes and if you get a chance to play as freshman, so much the better.
Mathews: I’m very open to redshirting. I think there are a lot of advantages to redshirting to get stronger for that year and learn the system instead of just being thrown in there. At the same time, if the team thinks they can use me early, then I would be willing to step in early. I think at this point, it’s leaning more towards a redshirt. We’ll just have to see what happens there.
Davis: And what about your team this year? It seems like the program there is on the rise? What are the expectations this year?
Mathews: Every year we expect nothing less than a championship. At BA, we really have a great history of a successful football program. The sad truth is we haven’t had a football championship in almost a decade now. The last one was in ‘06, so we’re really trying to be that team that brings back the glory. We haven’t been there in a while and we want to be back there.
Davis: How much has it helped to have a dad (Jason Mathews) that played offensive line in the NFL?
Mathews: He is my offensive line coach at school and I’ve definitely enjoyed that. He’s been a huge part of the process both as a coach and as a father. He definitely helps in knowing techniques and as a guy who has gone through the process himself, he has been great offering me advice and guiding me on the right path while at the same time allowing me a chance to make my own decision.