MONROE, La. — You can bet that LSU interim coach Ed Orgeron is a big fan of warm tea.
After all, not too many coaches in the country yell on the sidelines with the authority of LSU’s head man. Phidarian Mathis has noticed — and he’s a huge fan.
Mathis, a 4-star defensive lineman from Neville High School, is a priority target for LSU in its 2017 haul. When LSU made the change in coaches at the end of the summer, he paid close attention as his primary recruiter made the transition to, potentially, his next head coach.
“LSU is still a great team and they’re improving. LSU is always going to be LSU,” Mathis told SEC Country after receiving his Under Armour All-America Game jersey.
“They made an impact with coach O coming on and I hope everything goes all right with them. He makes it more live for them. He’s a live guy and I think it makes it live for that team. He’s a live defensive line coach and now (LSU) has got a live coach. That would be good.”
Like many recruits from the northern part of Louisiana, Mathis is weighing both LSU and Alabama — along with TCU — at the front and center of his recruitment.
The 6-foot-4, 287-pound defensive lineman hears from both coaching staffs on a daily basis. He plans on committing after his senior season wraps up, but before he heads to Orlando, Fla., for the Under Armour All-America Game.
That means December, which gives Orgeron and Bradley Dale Peveto, his primary recruiters, more time to deliver their message.
“They tell me to stay humble, to play the game I love … they’re always telling me the same thing,” Mathis said. “It’s all going to make an impact on everything I’m doing right now.”
Peveto made the pitch in person earlier this month.
When LSU’s road contest against Florida wiped away due to Hurricane Matthew, the Tigers’ special teams coordinator made the trek to Monroe to check in. That visit did not go unnoticed.
“That was big,” Mathis laughed. “I had to go out there and show out and not disappoint. That’s what it’s all about.”
Two of the biggest pulls in Mathis’ recruitment are his family and his former teammate along Neville’s defensive line.
Alabama and LSU are making the strongest pushes for the 4-star recruit. His mother carried a Crimson Tide keychain, but good friend and former teammate Rashard Lawrence now wears an LSU jersey.
“She loves all of the teams that are giving me a good opportunity to come and play for their schools. It’s nothing but a keychain,” Mathis said.
“Whatever happens, happens,” he added in reference to teaming up with Lawrence in Baton Rouge. “It can be my own path, but I don’t know. It would be good to have him by me. I can be my own man and he can be his own man.”
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