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After a long year, Mathis is finally ready for his opportunity

This season, the majority of West Virginia’s success on offense is based off their running game. Now, without their top running back in Leddie Brown, West Virginia’s Tony Mathis is ready for his time to shine.

In West Virginia’s regular season finale, Tony Mathis rushed for 118 yards on a team high 22 carries. Now, with Brown opting-out of the bowl game, Mathis feels beyond ready for this moment and for his opportunity to lead this team.

“It feels good. [I’m] just ready for it, been working for it, we all have,” Mathis said on the opportunity of being the lead running back against Minnesota in the bowl game.

As fall camp ended, Mathis knew the season was off to a rough start. Last spring Mathis asked running backs coach Chad Scott what he can work on, and Mathis spent all summer working on those things.

“I wanted to be here, so I just wanted to do what they needed me to do. So I got better at everything they said was my weakness and turned it around,” Mathis said. Breaking tackles, showing my ability to run routes and I did that very well.”

As the summer winded down, Mathis found himself facing an even more difficult challenge right before the beginning of the season — an injury.

Mathis was injured and played limited time until the bye week in the middle of October, when he said he felt like he was able to full rehab his injury and get back to where he needed to be.

“The bye week I rehabbed a lot, ten times more. It was a time frame for my injury how I should be very back. I wasn’t really ready LIU game, but I knew after that I was going to be ready,” Mathis said.”

Mathis’ expectation of being fully healthy were met by an increase of production. Mathis finished with 256 yards on the ground this season, and 231 of those came after the bye.

Now Mathis is preparing to be the go-to guy in Arizona next week when West Virginia faces Minnesota, but the entirety of West Virginia’s coaching staff is excited for what Mathis brings to the table and expect him to be able to pick up right where Brown left off.

Offensive coordinator Gerad Parker said Mathis has prepared the right way all season and now that his opportunity has arrived, he expects Mathis to make the most of it.

“The good thing for Tony is he’s not surprised by it. He’s worked his tail off to get to this point and he got a flash of that in the last game,” Parker said. “I’m sure when you’ve prepared the right way like Tony has, he just slides right in and takes a higher role and runs with it and we expect him to and I’m sure he does as well.”

To think there was any doubt Mathis would make the most of this opportunity or yield this opportunity to someone else does not fit who Mathis is. Mathis said he has always continued working to get better and wants to finish what he started at West Virginia.

“Just keep doing what I’ve been doing. Head down and grind, that’s the motto,” Mathis said. “I want to be here, I love it here. This is home for me and my family.”

Photo by Dale Sparks, All Pro Photography

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