Penn Hills quarterback Hollis Mathis commits to Howard, says it ‘felt like home’

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Saturday, May 26, 2018 | 1:42 PM


When he started playing football for the Penn Hills feeder program at 7 years old, Penn Hills junior quarterback Hollis Mathis dreamed what the moment would be like when he made his college decision.

Now, the moment has come, and it couldn't have been any sweeter as Mathis announced his verbal commitment to Howard on May 18.

According to 247sports, Mathis is a three-star recruit and is ranked the 63rd pro-style quarterback in the nation.

“I've been through a lot of these unofficial visits, and I felt at home at Howard. I felt when I went down there I could see myself living there for the next four to five years, getting an education and becoming a better man. That was one of the selling points for me,” Mathis said.

“I liked the direction the football program was headed, and I loved historic and educational value the school has.”

The 6-foot-1, 180-pound quarterback passed for 2,435 yards and 27 touchdowns last fall when Penn Hills reached the WPIAL Class 6A playoffs. Mathis, who visited Howard in mid-April, received his first Division I offer from the Washington, D.C., university last May.

“When I was 7 years old, I started to play football for the fact that I loved playing the college football (video) game,” Mathis said.

“The goal was always to go play some college football like I played on my video game, but I never thought it would be this fun actually. It's been a blast. I'm happy I was able to enjoy the process. I had this goal in mind, but I didn't think it would be this sweet.”

An FCS program, Howard competes in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. In 2017, the Bison finished second behind North Carolina A&T in the MEAC with a 7-4 overall record and 6-2 conference mark.

Howard's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach is Brennan Marion, a Greensburg Salem graduate who recruits Pennsylvania. Mathis' conversations with Marion in regards to the quarterback's role in the Bison offense played a significant role in his college decision.

“He told me how the quarterback has a lot of control in the offense and how he thinks that I can fit that really well. The offense plays to my strengths as far as what I like to do in the game,” Mathis said.

“I felt like when I was down there, they didn't have to tell me very much other than what they like to do and what kind of guys they wanted.”

The Bison found success with another Pittsburgh quarterback recruit a few years ago. Perry Academy's Greg McGhee was the MEAC Co-Offensive Player of the Year in 2014.

Mathis wrestled with the timing of his verbal commitment as he tried to hold out for possible offers from Kent State and Akron. At the end of the day, Mathis couldn't shake the good feelings Howard provided him.

With the college decision out of the way, Mathis looks to focus on his senior season as he builds off a junior year when he led the Indians to an 8-3 record with a 3-3 mark in the Class 6A Northern Seven. The Indians made their deepest playoff run since 2008 after losing to Central Catholic, 17-8, in the semifinals of the WPIAL Class 6A playoffs.

“I liked it so much down there that I don't know if I would still want to go to those schools if I would've gotten those offers from the bigger schools. Howard just felt like home to me,” Mathis said.

“It lifts a very heavy weight off your back. All you have to do is be yourself and go play football now. I just want to go out there and play football, which is something I love to do.”

Andrew John is a freelance writer.

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