Jermaine Mathews came to Ohio State on June 1 last year with one goal in mind — earn an offer from the Buckeyes. After a long day of being put through his paces — and outpacing everybody he went against, he had his offer.
Mathews impressed everybody, even clocking in a 4.35 40-yard dash for good measure. But just because he wanted an Ohio State offer didn’t mean he was done. Mathews also visited an LSU camp later in the month and lit it up there as well, earning an offer from Tigers head coach Brian Kelly.
All told, June was a productive span of time for Mathews as Oklahoma, Cincinnati, Jackson State, Missouri, LSU, and Alabama all offered the Cincinnati Winton Woods prospect.
From early on, however, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day and defensive coordinator Jim Knowles liked what they saw and they locked in on Mathews as a key piece to their 2023 recruiting class.
“Jermaine Matthews, I will say this, I was really impressed right off the bat,” Day said back in December. “I first met him early on in the process, but then when he came to camp, he did a great job at camp. I mean, it was a hot day. It was a competitive day. Coach Knowles was going through the drills, and I mean, he was getting worn slick. At one point, I’m like, ‘man, take it easy on this guy, he’s gonna pass out,’ but he kept going and going and going and competing.”
Mathews took an official visit to Ohio State two weeks later and then committed to the Buckeyes two weeks after that. He then went and had a senior season for the ages, earning Division II Defensive Player of the Year accolades at Winton Woods under head coach Chad Murphy. Mathews finished the year with 51 tackles, four forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, and he returned three of his six interceptions for touchdowns. He also had a touchdown catch, a punt return for a score, and a touchdown on a kickoff return.
He also recently earned a fifth star from a national recruiting services. At a touch under 6-foot-1 and checking in at 180 pounds, Mathews has the length, size, and speed that recruiting services love as much as coaches do. But he proved to be much more than measurables as a senior.
It was a productive fall for Mathews, so much so that other schools continued to come calling. Michigan offered in October, then came Miami in late November. And in the age of NIL, anything is possible, but Mathews remained committed and Day couldn’t be happier to have landed one of the top cornerbacks in the 2023 recruiting class.
“I thought he had a great year this year, just playing really, really hard for Winton Woods and Coach Murph, and I just was really impressed with his ability to go compete every single day,” Day said. “And this is another guy who went through a lot during the recruiting process and fielded a lot of calls. And a lot of people were blowing up that phone. He was loyal to the Buckeyes and I think he’s going to have a great career.”
Mathews is one of 11 members of OSU’s 2023 signing class who are already on campus. Enrolling early will make him a more viable candidate to help out on defense this year, and considering what happened the last time Mathews arrived on campus with a particular goal in mind, he will be one to watch this spring.