A Deep Dive Into the Development of D'Wan
What's the old adage? Behind every good man is a better woman? Well, behind every good quarterback, there's a trainer that's shaped that young man's craft more than likely. In this profession, you learn pretty quickly — or at least you should — that apart from the parents of an athlete, the person that trains the athlete is often times the best source of information. Sure, there may be some bias on their part, but it's far less impactful than that of the parent, and they know the areas of improvement far more in depth.
D'Wan Mathis has been working with Donovan Dooley since he was 12-years old. Dooley owns Quarterback University in Detroit, Michigan where he trains some of the finest quarterbacks in the area, including Mathis to this day whenever he's home. Dooley sat down for an all-encompassing interview headed into what we presume to be Mathis's first career start to detail how far he's come, and just how good this 19-year old phenom will be.
If you asked every member of a Divsion 1 football team, especially the caliber of Georgia's their finest memories of recreational football, it's rare you'll find one that wasn't the best player in their hometown. Mathis' story is no different. Sheer domination.
"So when D'Wan was 12 years old, playing in the Detroit PAL Football League, he was a young, slender, you know, slim kid with a lot of athletecism. And at that time, he was looked at as obviously an athelete. So, he could play receiver quarterback and whatnot. And start training, like, you know, early, all the way through high school is still to this day in college. "
According to Dooley, D'Wan has always been a talker and one that hasn't been afraid to let you know exactly how he feels about a play he just made.
Yeah, he was a little bit of a chatterbox early on. So, he will make a throw and he was going to let you know about it. He was doing that stuff at an early age. If you ever watched him, play youth football game, he was dominant. So, obviously it was his athleticism. Scoring touchdowns, making plays, extending plays off schedule. He was doing that early on. You know, obviously, he didn't always know what he was doing, wasn't reading anything early on. As far as coverages and whatnot. He was just making plays. And a lot of times you look for who's the dominant guy on the football field, he was the biggest and the fastest. So he just had total command of the game.
That dominant athletic ability carried Mathis for quite a long time, it even to some extent is still carrying him to today. It wasn't until his senior season at Oak Park High School where Mathis truly began to study the craft of the position. To begin to read defenses as opposed to taking off the moment the first, and only at the point, read appeared to be covered
Well, when he was younger, you know, and when he got to high school, I was huge on him in terms of impressing the whole quarterback craft. D'Wan really didn't truly embrace the quarterback craft until his senior year of high school, and certainly understood that, at some point, his athleticism is going to run out. Meaning, you know, when you get to college guys are just as athletic. They are bigger, faster, stronger, and more cerebral in terms of understanding the scheme. So throughout this process, it was, you know, a tough fight early on, but he started to embrace the craft and understood understanding the process and stuff to be able to speak the language. And now he's more mature within the position, and he'll tell you about that growth process as well.
Mathis ran a verified 10.84 in the 100-meter his senior year of high school. For reference, Arian Smith who's often considered one of the fastest recruits ever runs a 10.39. Dooley expounded upon just how athletic Mathis is.
"If you've ever watched D'Wan play basketball you know he can windmill dunk, he's freakishly athletic. D'Wan is a true 4.48/4.49 forty guy, at 6'6 and he's 227 pounds right now. The craziest thing I've seen D'Wan do is take total control of games, you know, if you leave five guys in the box, he's gone. You know what I mean. And he's, he's definitely gonna make somebody miss. He's not a straight-line runner. He has a little bit of wiggle tool. And he's strong. He has little hesitations across the field, almost like when you see what Lamar is doing, Lamar is probably a little bit faster than D'Wan. But when you talk about shiftiness, there along the same lines."
You read that right, 227 pounds. If you recall, Kirby Smart said that following Mathis' surgery he lost a considerable amount of weight. Dooley believes he dropped all the way down close to 190 pounds.
At the time of D'Wan's diagnosis and subsequent brain surgery, Dooley was dealing with a cancer diagnosis of his own. The two confided in each other and continued to fight their own battles with a constant line of communication. Now, both on the other side of their diagnosis, both have a new perspective on life and football.
"I talked to him two days ago, and D'wan was just saying, you know, right now, he just looks at life differently. He treats every day like Saturday, right? You never know when it's your last. And he really appreciates the opportunity to play the game. And he's got to own that."
As for why it should be D'Wan Mathis to make the start for Georgia on Saturday, Dooley said it's the dynamic ability that Mathis brings to the table:
"He's gonna bring you a different dynamic. D'Wan is a defensive coordinator's nightmare. You know, any quarterbacks that utilize his legs and also, you know, deliver football on time, and understand how to change certain protections, like I said, and just embrace the craft and be a coach on the field. And Diwan is a sponge right now. So he's, he's trending very high right now. He's out in the playbook. You choose D'Wan because he's dominant. And obviously, you got three years left with him. You know, he's a young man, and when D'Wan gets 21-years old, look out. "
For a 19-year old young man, with this type of talent, there really isn't a ceiling for him. There's really no telling just how great he could ultimately be. And that, if you're a Georgia fan considering the story of the kid from the Motor City, just might be the most exciting part yet.
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