MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – “Tough, competitive, laid-back. Fun. I guess you could say that’s about it,” West Virginia wide receiver Devonte Mathis said with a laugh, describing himself in just a few short words.
Behind flashy names like Tavon Austin, Stedman Baily, Kevin White and most recently Shelton Gibson, stands a 6-foot-1 Mathis from Miami, Fla. The former Mirimar standout usually flies under the radar, making productive catches that go seemingly unnoticed when he gets in the game.
This year in particular, Mathis has faced adversity. Finding playing time on a roster stacked full of talented receivers isn’t always easy, and doing so after losing a family member at the beginning of the season makes it even more difficult.
“I take it day-by-day,” he said. “I talk to some of the people on the team and some of the coaches, they kind of keep your mind in the right place and make sure that everything’s going good.”
Mathis lost his father earlier this October.
“Sometimes you’re gonna have bad days, but you just have to bounce back and keep moving forward,” he said.
The redshirt junior has six receptions for 47 yards so far this season. Through his career at West Virginia, he has 13 grabs for 129 yards.
In terms of fitting in with a busy offense, Mathis says he waits for an opportunity to arise and when it does, he makes sure it doesn’t get taken for granted.
“It’s basically if you get in, you make plays,” he said. “Whenever you get the chance, you make the blocks and make plays any way possible… Everyone’s role is different. You have to get in and fit in where you can and just make the best of the opportunity. It all depends on schemes and everything.”
Lately, Dana Holgorsen has been switching things up each week on the depth chart, especially at receiver. Everyone seems to be getting playing time one way or another, even quarterback David Sills who shocked Mountaineer fans with his unforeseen talent in Waco against Baylor.
“I mean, we knew what he could do but the outside world really didn’t get to see it until last week,” said Mathis. “We saw it in workouts, we saw it in speed training, we saw the athleticism and everything… So I guess it was really just everybody else’s first time getting a look at it.”
Mathis, who has family from the Dallas area, says he’s particularly excited for the Mountaineers’ next game, a match-up with the undefeated TCU Horned Frogs in Fort Worth, Texas. He says at least six or seven family members will be in attendance, adding extra incentive.
Mathis and the 3-3 (0-3 in Big 12) Mountaineers will search for their first conference win Thursday night at 7:30.