Headed to the SEC
I'Tavius Mathers
I'Tavius Mathers
Mississippi Scout
Posted Aug 8, 2011

Some insiders thought South Carolina had the inside track for I'Tavius Mathers, Tennessee's 2010 Gatorade Player of the Year. However, Ole Miss was able to pull off a coup Monday, as Mathers committed to the Rebels.

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“We sat down last night to just kind of go over things about I'Tavius' future,” I'Tavius' father, Ira, said. "He told me that Ole Miss is where he wanted to be, so we called them up this morning to let them know.”

Ole Miss is where I'Tavius felt the most comfortable.

“He just felt more at home when he went on his visit than he did at the other schools. I came down there on his visit with I'Tavius, and I knew after we left campus that there was something different about Ole Miss than the rest of the schools we had visited. I think just the way the coaches talk to I'Tavius was big for him. He felt like they were honest with him from day one.

“He likes what they plan on doing with him. They just want him to help them get to bowl games and get to Atlanta. If that means he comes in there and starts next year, then that's what he'll do. If that means he comes in there next year and takes a redshirt for the betterment of the team and I'Tavius, then that's fine with us, too. We just felt like they shoot it straight with you and that trust factor is what won out for them.”

I'Tavius had been offered by the likes of Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, Kentucky, Vandy, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Notre Dame, Virginia and several other Division-I programs before narrowing it down to the Gamecocks, Kentucky, Ole Miss, and Virginia. Which college came in second?

“South Carolina would be that school. He liked his playing time opportunities at South Carolina. That is what they were looking for. They want someone to come in and fill Marcus Lattimore's spot. He's going pro early, and they need someone to fill his shoes, and they wanted that to be I'Tavius. That was attractive for him, but like I said, he just had that comfort level there at Ole Miss.”

Other factors played a part, as well.

“It's the closest major school to our house so that was big, and another thing is that it's just such a nice campus with great facilities. The other colleges had nice facilities too, but everybody just treated him like they knew him for years at Ole Miss. He just felt at home down there. That's the best way I can put it.”

Ole Miss is graduating both of its big running backs this season and envision Mathers as a player to help pick up that slack.

“They need someone to step up in Brandon Bolden and Enrique Davis' shoes. They think I'Tavius can really help fill those shoes. He's a smart runner that has great vision and reads the holes well, that is also quick and can take it the distance. He's an all-around good back.”

Scout.com's No. 48 rated running back rushed for 2,614 yards and 31 touchdowns during the 2010 season. He was named the state of Tennessee's Gatorade Player of the Year and Old Spice Player of the Year. He also won the District and County MVP award.

Yancy Porter is the Mississippi Scout for Scout.com and he can be reached at yporter@scout.com

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