ShareThis Page

Harlan on recruiting: Penn Hills' Mathis building a resume

Chris Harlan
| Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017, 6:06 p.m.
Penn Hills' Hollis Mathis looks to pass during the Indians' game against Plum on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017, at Newman Stadium in McCandless. Penn Hills won 26-0.
Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
Penn Hills' Hollis Mathis looks to pass during the Indians' game against Plum on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017, at Newman Stadium in McCandless. Penn Hills won 26-0.
High school football camps are coming to a close and area teams are gearing up for the first game of their season.  Penn Hills quarterback Hollis Mathis (wearing #12) during practice drills on Tuesday, August 15 at Yuhas-McGinley Stadium. Lillian DeDomenic  |  For The Tribune Review
High school football camps are coming to a close and area teams are gearing up for the first game of their season. Penn Hills quarterback Hollis Mathis (wearing #12) during practice drills on Tuesday, August 15 at Yuhas-McGinley Stadium. Lillian DeDomenic | For The Tribune Review

Penn Hills quarterback Hollis Mathis might have the arm strength, the height and the athleticism to someday play college football, just not the physical bulk.

At least not yet.

“We definitely need to put some weight on him,” Penn Hills coach Jon LeDonne said with a laugh. “He's probably 6-2 or 6-3 right now. We'll put some pounds on him this offseason.”

Hollis weighs around 165 or 170 pounds, but that doesn't mean he's weak.

“People see this tall, lanky kid,” Mathis said. “But if we need 2 yards, then I'll put my shoulder down. I am a good bit tougher than people give me credit for.

“This past year I wanted to work most on quarterback mechanics,” he added. “This offseason is all bulking up.”

Mathis' television debut comes Friday night when his Indians visit North Allegheny. The AT&T Sports cameras aren't there for him, like ESPN's cameras were for Pine-Richland's Phil Jurkovec in Week Zero. But for Mathis, a junior with an FCS offer, any attention could be a boost for a first-year starter who ranks among the WPIAL's top passers.

If they watch, LeDonne says, recruiters should like what they see.

“His mechanics are there, his arm is there, he has the range and the knowledge,” LeDonne said. “It's just a matter of putting more stuff on film in significant games against other Division I caliber players.”

Mathis ranks fourth in the WPIAL with 1,353 passing yards. He's thrown 13 touchdowns and only two interceptions. His first scholarship offer came from Howard, a Division I FCS team.

“I see him being possibly FBS,” LeDonne said. “If not, then FCS for sure. I know when we were up at Penn State camp, there was a lot of interest in him.”

Mathis showed his athleticism last week against Seneca Valley. He completed 14 of 20 throws for 265 yards and a touchdown to win 44-28. He also rushed for 111 yards and three touchdowns with a 54-yarder included.

“Since we've got here in June, he's been one of the leaders on the team,” said LeDonne, a first-year coach. “You'd never be able to tell he had never played a meaningful varsity football game the way he approached the game. He's had the team on his back since we got here, holding guys accountable.”

LeDonne credits part of Mathis' early on-field success to quarterbacks coach Matt Flaus, a Thomas Jefferson grad and former backup quarterback at Pitt. Flaus is part of LeDonne's first-year staff that's heavy with Pitt alums. Among them are Cam Saddler, Steve Buches and Brandon Ifill.

Flaus, a walk-on behind Tyler Palko, has sharpened Mathis' footwork and mental approach.

“Coach Flaus, he's a real ins-and-outs kind of guy,” Mathis said. “He says that I have a lot of the (physical) talents I need to play at a high level. He just takes me to that next level with the little things, the things that make the game easier.”

The biggest change, Mathis said, is his improved ability to read defense. His natural preference was to throw deep, and why not when Michigan State commit Julian Major is one of your wideouts?

“I've definitely become a better decision maker,” Mathis said. “Before I always thought: throw it deep, we'll make a play, I can make that throw. Now I (consider): who's supposed to be covering that area? Nobody's there? OK, let's throw it there!

“Now I'm playing a higher mental game than I was before.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.