September 18, 2011

PHOTOS: Mathers impressive in win

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- I'Tavius Mathers rushed for 192 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries to lead Blackman past Oakland, 42-28, Friday.

For Blackman, a Rivals250 running back who committed to Ole Miss in the summer, it was just another day at the office.

Mathers' outing allowed the four-star standout to eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing mark with more than half of his senior season remaining. Last season, Mathers became the first running back in Rutherford County history to rush for 2,000 yards in a 10-game regular season.

"That 1,000 yards doesn't mean anything to me," Mathers told The (Nashville) Tennessean. "All that I'm focused on are wins and team goals."

Blackman coach Philip Shadowens told Mathers has been "a dominant force in every game we've played. We have other weapons around him, but he's the best player in the state of Tennessee. He proves that about every Friday night.

"He has great vision and then he's so strong. (Friday night) he didn't break as many tackles as he does many times _ he had a run last week where he broke eight tackles and ran 70 yards _ but he runs with great power even though he's not a huge kid. He's so strong and he sees some cuts other kids can't see. Then he can explode through them like not too many people can."

Mathers indicated Friday night his commitment to Ole Miss is very solid. He expects to report to Oxford in June. If he does, he will likely be a candidate for early playing time, as the Rebels lose Brandon Bolden and Enrique Davis to graduation after this season.

"I think he's ready," Shadowen said. "I think what they'll probably try to do in college is bring him down in the summer and put on 10 pounds and get him up to 200. He's around 190 right now, I'd guess. Strength-wise, he fits in good at the college level. He's really, really strong. He's over a 500-pound squatter. He benches over (300 pounds) and power cleans almost (300 pounds), so strength-wise, he's ready at that level, at least as a freshman."

Shadowen, who led nearby Smyrna High School to the Class 5A state championships in 2006 and 2007 before moving to Blackman in 2009, said Mathers is "a better kid than he is a player, and he's a great player. That says a lot about him. I've been blessed to coach a lot of great players in the 22 years I've coached. I've had players go all over the country, and without a doubt, he's the most humble superstar _if you can call a high school kid a superstar _ I've ever been around.

"He's just a wonderful kid. You wouldn't know he's the best football player in the state of Tennessee when you watch him walk down the halls. It's a credit to his folks and how they've raised him and a credit to him."

Click the link below for photos from Mathers' performance against Oakland Friday.

Photo Feature

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