NEW ORLEANS — It’s about that time.
Phidarian Mathis played his final game in a Neville (La.) High uniform on Saturday afternoon, yet again in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome with a Louisiana Class 4A state championship hanging in the balance.
The 4-star defensive lineman’s season has ended in the Dome each of the last three years, but this one … this represents something a little bit more.
With his senior season in the rear-view mirror, Mathis, a priority LSU target, must now shift his focus from his high school team to his college decision.
“At this point right now, I have to sit back and express myself and talk with my mom,” Mathis told SEC Country. “That’s how we do it and that’s how I’m going to make my decision.”
When receiving his Under Armour All-America Game jersey, Mathis’ mother sported an Alabama key chain.
Naturally, Mom will be a major part of her son’s decision. After all, Mathis is looking for a place that he can call home for the next three or four years.
“She tells me to do what’s best for me,” Mathis said. “I’m going to go where I feel comfortable and where I’m at home, and do what’s best for me and for my family. That’s what I’m going to do.”
This could be a hint, or it could mean nothing. But LSU, along with Alabama and TCU, have separated themselves as finalists for the 6-foot-4, 287-pounder.
Mathis has been in Baton Rouge several times this fall, including games against Ole Miss, Alabama and Florida, and did not hesitate to indicate the Tigers meet one of his most important criteria.
“They feel like home,” Mathis explained. “Especially with him (Ed Orgeron) there as the new head coach and him making that big impact that he made the last few months. I would say that it feels like home if I wind up going there.”
Mathis describes Orgeron’s personality and coaching style as “live.” It’s why the 4-star defensive lineman openly supported Coach O to be LSU’s next head coach throughout the fall.
That “live” atmosphere has captured the Northern Louisiana product’s attention at just the right time in his decision-making process.
“It’s even better because LSU has got him 24-7,” Mathis smiled. “He’s over you giving you directions and stuff like this. Like I said, he’s a live coach. He’s always spry, always happy, and that’s great.”
Orgeron’s live personality was in Monroe, La. earlier this month when he and newly-promoted outside linebackers coach Dennis Johnson went to Neville High to check in on the priority target.
“Coach O stepped in, him and Coach Johnson came to the school last week to check in on me,” Mathis recalled. “They made sure my grades are OK and made sure I was doing my thing. They said, basically, that they need me at home.”
With his high school football career over with, Mathis plans on finalizing his plans and making a decision at some point in January. That’s after the Under Armour All-America Game on Jan. 1 and before National Signing Day.
Mathis has scheduled visits, including ones to LSU, Alabama and TCU, and knows he’ll be deciding between those three powers. He has not ruled out committing immediately after a visit, if he determines he has seen enough to end his recruitment.
“I’m trying to get my official visits in and I might take all of them, but I’ll sit back and wait,” Mathis explained. “I have others set up, but if I feel like I should stop playing with some of these coaches, then I’m going to knock it down and call it a night.”
Decision made for Buggs
It’s finally time for Isaiah Buggs to sign on the dotted line.
Buggs, the top junior college defensive lineman, is going to sign with a college later today at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. For the bulk of his recruitment, LSU has been out in front. In fact, multiple sources have informed SEC Country that he had planned to commit his hometown team, but held back for a variety of reasons.
That set the stage for Buggs to commit to Alabama on Tuesday, justifying what SEC Country had learned in the previous three days.
LSU’s lead was relinquished over the weekend. After making his inaugural visit to Alabama, sources told SEC Country that Buggs was primed to commit to the Crimson Tide.
Like LSU, Alabama is in need of blue-chip defensive linemen to replenish this year’s All-World front. Buggs has been made a top priority, with head coach Nick Saban visiting the 4-star defensive end earlier this month and defensive line coach Karl Dunbar making his way to Ruston, La., to check in on Buggs’ mother.
After convincing Buggs to officially visit Alabama, the Tide have emerged as the favorite to land Buggs.
That leaves LSU in a precarious position, with the aforementioned Mathis becoming an even greater need. Of course, the Tigers are firmly in the race with 5-star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson as well.
All ratings are from the 247Sports composite rankings unless otherwise noted.
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