Rashean Mathis has been a fixture in the north Florida football scene from his days at Englewood High School all the way through college at Bethune-Cookman up to his time as a Pro Bowl cornerback with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Rashean Mathis is a defensive leader and a team captain in his seventh season with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He, along with offensive stalwarts David Garrard, Maurice Jones-Drew, and incoming veteran Torry Holt look to turn around the Jaguars from their dismal 5-11 record in 2008.
Here is my (hopeful) future interview with Rashean Mathis:
Rashean, being a part of the city of Jacksonville’s football history; you played on the 1998 Englewood High team that upset the nationally ranked and defending state champion Raines High School Vikings, which featured another future NFL star, Lito Sheppard.
You were an All-State selection, but unfortunately you were unable to receive a scholarship to a Division 1-A school because of an injury.
1 – How did playing at such a high level and the experience of playing in a big time high school matchup transfer over to playing at Bethune-Cookman; and what did you have to prove by being passed over by bigger schools?
During your time at Bethune-Cookman, you were coached by fellow Jacksonville native and Bethune-Cookman alum Alvin Wyatt. You won the Buck Buchannan Award in 2002, set national records for interceptions, and were part of the winningest team in Bethune-Cookman history. (2002, 11-2, MEAC Champions)
2 – Was it a benefit to have a former NFL player as a head coach in college, and how did Coach Wyatt help you to prepare for the NFL?
After completing a very successful college career, fast forward to NFL Draft Day 2003. You’re expected to be picked on the first day; but there are seven cornerbacks picked ahead of you, and you go early in the second round to your hometown Jaguars. Some of the cornerbacks picked ahead of you are now out of the NFL.
3 – How nerve-racking was watching the NFL Draft process, and what was it like getting the phone call from the Jaguars?
Your first season in the NFL, you’re on a rebuilding Jaguars team, with a defensive-minded rookie head coach, who also happens to be a former NFL player. Jack Del Rio wasn’t a first round pick either, but he did have an 11-year career to go along with an All-Pro selection.
4 – What growing pains were there for you as a rookie, and what did Coach Del Rio do to ease your transition into the NFL?
Your last two coaches, (Alvin Wyatt and Jack Del Rio) are also both known for being fashion-forward coaches. Coach Wyatt could be an extra if they ever do another Shaft movie, while Coach Del Rio’s suits make him look like a stunt double for Christian Bale in American Psycho.
5 – Fashion sense aside, how do the two coaches compare in terms of coaching ability, and what does each one do differently?
You played safety and cornerback in 2003, before converting to corner full-time in 2004; and the transition paid off, as the Jaguars had a winning season in 2004 and were back in the playoffs in 2005.
Quickly becoming one of the leagues’ best at cornerback by 2005, the Jaguars extended your contract through the 2011 season; and you responded with an All-Pro season in 2006.
6 – How did it feel to represent your hometown; and your hometown team in Hawai’i for the Pro Bowl?
2007 wasn’t a typical season for you, as you missed two games of the season with a groin injury (ending a 74 game streak), and only posted one interception during the regular season. The decline in production could be due to the fact that teams didn’t throw to your side of the field as much, because you showed up big time in the playoffs, sending the defending champion Steelers home in the first round.
7. – Describe the feeling of winning a playoff game on the road, especially in a hostile environment like Pittsburgh.
Speaking of Pittsburgh, you have been a nightmare for the Steelers during your time in the NFL. Three Interceptions with two returned for touchdowns; including a game winner in overtime in 2005, and a team playoff record 63-yard return in 2007.
8. – Do you tend to get up more for the Steelers, or is there another team that you look forward to playing?
You have also had a good amount of success (six interceptions) against the Tennessee Titans. The Titans swept the Jaguars in 2008, and they are a favorite to win the AFC South in 2009.
9. – What will it take for a rebuilding Jaguars team to dethrone the Titans and how will your return from injury help the team in 2009?
2008 was a disappointing season for the Jaguars, both on and off the field. Injuries, tragedy, fighting between players and coaches, conflict between coaches, and poor performance quickly derailed any hopes of a Jacksonville Super Bowl run.
10. – What is the most significant change the Jaguars made in the offseason, and how will it affect your desired outcome of the 2009 season?
Super Bowl XLIV will be played on February 7, 2010 in Miami.