COVINGTON, Ga. — A little less than a month after decommitting from Chattanooga, and just two days before National Signing Day, Newton’s Mike Mathison decided that Akron was the best fit for him. And Mathison makes no bones about why it is so.
Mathison says it was Akron’s hiring of former Chattanooga coach Tom Arth that paved the way for Mathison to make his move further north to Ohio. Arth offered Mathison a scholarship while still coaching at Chattanooga, and Mathison committed last summer before decommitting last month after the coaching changes.
“His move to Akron is the reason I’m there,” Mathison said. “I wouldn’t have an offer from Akron if he didn’t get the job there.”
As has become the custom with most athletes, Mathison took to Twitter to express his thanks and to share that he would be joining the Zips’ program.
Mathison chose Akron over a plethora of schools, including Georgia State, Austin Peay, Mercer, Southern University, Western Carolina and Eastern Illinois, among more than a half dozen others.
The Zips are a NCAA Division I, FBS program that competes in the Mid-American Conference’s East Division, often with a steady diet of Power Five opponents on their schedule — a fact that was also appealing to Mathison.
“I had a lot of opportunities especially after I recommitted from UTC,” he said. “With Akron, I already had a relationship with the entire coaching staff, and playing at the FBS level is a huge opportunity for me to improve my game and compete against really good Power Five teams in the next couple of years.”
The 5-foot-10 receiver had said that he wasn’t feeling the same connection from Chattanooga’s new coaching staff. And although National Signing Day is fast approaching, Mathison said he literally couldn’t afford to wait another 48 hours to decide.
“I really had to make a decision before (Signing Day), or a lot of teams would’ve moved on,” he said. “College football is a business, and they have to do what they need to do to feed their families too.”
Mathison caught 40 balls for 558 receiving yards and six touchdowns for the Rams in 2018. He also was second on the team, behind Robert Lewis, in kick return yards with 233, and one he brought back for a touchdown — that during the first kickoff of the season opener with Alcovy.
The two-sport standout — Mathison also plays basketball for the Class AAAAAAA No. 8 Newton boys basketball team — is planning to major in sports management or exercise science. He said he credits his time at Newton for thoroughly preparing him to succeed on the next level both academically and athletically.
“I couldn’t thank coach (Josh) Skelton enough,” he said. “Really just the mindset he instilled in me to go out and work harder than others, and that you can do anything you put the work in. And coach (Camiel) grant and (former head coach) Banks also taught me a lot to prepare me for college and the real world. The college coaches love when they are teaching something, and I’m already a step ahead.”