There are few prospects with the overall athleticism and wherewithal to make plays like Jacoby Mathews. Here are two more areas that help Mathews be different, as well as comparing him to the styles of two NFL players.
After watching the film of Jacoby Mathews several times, the question kept coming up. What exactly does he do that makes him such a good football player? Further film study confirmed the answer.
He simply makes the play. Whether playing defense or offense, the Ponchatoula (La.) High School prospect just makes the play. Case in point, Mathews was playing to the wide side of the field as a safety. The ball is snapped and it’s a busted coverage to the opposite side of the field from Mathews. No worries. He ran and deflected the pass at the last moment.
The 6’2”, 205-pound LSU commitment is a special talent. Not just an athlete, mind you, but a football player that’s a talent. He understands how and when to make impactful plays that go behind just his forty time and bench press. He’s disruptive to the opponent and it can happen in different ways.
Timing and Speed
Mathews played quarterback for Ponchatoula last season, and his uncanny ability to run quarterback draws at the speed needed to set up blocks and create an advantageous angle to run by defenders reminds one of a running back. He will hit the gas when he needs to hit high gear, then throttle down to cruise along when it’s best to wait for blocks to develop. It’s uncanny how good Mathews utilizes different levels of speed. Defensively, he’s much the same way.
Whether it is quickly diagnosing a running back screen and beating a blocker to the spot so he can make a tackle, or reaching towards the wide receiver at the last moment to dislodge the football out of the opponent’s hands, Mathews makes unique plays. He tears the heart out of an opponent that can just see a sure first down or touchdown coming, and then Mathews takes that play away in an instant. With his unique talents, two NFL players
The Honey Badger
You will not hear many comparisons to the former LSU Tiger and current NFL safety, but Tyrann Mathieu and his style of play personifies Mathews quite well. They are different heights and played different positions growing up, but the style of play and end result do favor one another.
Remember how Mathieu would time his blitzes for the Purple and Gold? He was a master. Mathews displayed that same type of timing several times as a junior defender. Once he reaches LSU and focuses on playing defense there’s little doubt that he will further develop those minute technical skills to help him make even more plays.
Maybe the most versatile defender college football has seen in the last 50 years while playing for Clemson, Simmons played safety, linebacker and defensive end for the “other” Tigers. That’s just incredible. Now playing for the Arizona Cardinals, Simmons is the type of player an opposing offense must guess where he might line up. That’s something LSU could do with Mathews.
With the intelligence of Mathews, the LSU coaches could provide him with more responsibility. He could be lined up at linebacker in a nickel package, then move to a traditional safety position during the next play, and finally move to a hybrid linebacker at the snap of the next play.
It’s one thing to be an athlete that makes the physical adjustments to switching positions, but yet another level of talent to understand the nuances of learning different positions. That’s complex and not many college coaches would dare give that responsibility to a freshman or sophomore unless it’s a truly special talent. Mathews just might be up for the task. He’s one sharp player and that’s obvious just from watching the tape.
If you like watching highlights. Go watch Jacoby Mathews’ highlights. Whether it’s his offensive film, defensive film, or even his basketball highlights, go watch him play. He’s a dude because he makes critical plays at critical times. That’s a football player. Going to be interesting to see how the LSU coaching staff utilizes his talents once he reaches Baton Rouge.