Penn Hills grad Hollis Mathis makes impact as freshman at William & Mary

Friday, December 20, 2019 | 6:56 PM

Heading into his freshman season at William & Mary, Hollis Mathis wasn’t sure how his game would translate to the collegiate level. A record-setting season provided answers to his doubts.

Mathis, a 6-foot-2, 170-pound quarterback, threw for 976 yards and four touchdowns for William & Mary (5-7, 3-5) this season. On the ground, Mathis was second on the team with 546 yards rushing and had a team-high eight touchdowns.

“We’re heading in the right direction,” Mathis said. “It doesn’t mean I’m where I want to be, but it gives me an incentive to keep going. I’m hitting some of those marks, and I’m making a little bit of progress. I have a benchmark now so I can keep it going.”

Mathis set a Tribe true freshman record in total offense (1,522 yards), passing yards, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns.

“It’s really a storied program,” he said. “It was an honor to be able to hit some of those records over some really good players.”

Mathis was named as the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Rookie of the Week for two of the first three weeks of the season.

The best game statistically for Mathis was when he went 11 of 19 for 189 yards with a touchdown and rushed for 62 yards on 13 carries and another score to lead William & Mary to a 38-10 victory over Colgate on Sept. 14.

Later in the season, Mathis rushed for a season-high three touchdowns in a 34-25 loss to Maine on Oct. 26.

Mathis learned a lot about his toughness as he battled through a grade 2 separation of the AC joint in his right shoulder. The injury limited his ability to throw in a 39-31 loss to Albany on Sept. 28 and forced him to sit out the 35-28 loss to Villanova on Oct. 5.

Mathis was itching to play and help his teammates win. The Tribe had a bye week after the loss to Villanova, and that’s when Mathis decided to practice at wide receiver to showcase his playmaking abilities. Mathis lined up at receiver and caught two passes in a 38-10 loss to James Madison on Oct. 19.

“It was a rough experience trying to deal with injury,” he said. “I did prove to myself that I was tough because I wasn’t really sure. In high school, I was always upright and won a lot of the games. I didn’t have to deal with injuries.

“After the season, I proved to myself and a lot of my teammates that I’m tough and I could take those hits and still be able to play.”

In his freshman year with the Tribe, Mathis was thrust into a leadership role as his playing time increased. Mathis was challenged with figuring out how to lead older players, which was a role he didn’t need to fill at Penn Hills.

Mathis knows he needs to continue to work on his craft as he prepares himself for even a bigger role in his sophomore year. Mathis will continue to work on his throwing mechanics but will most importantly work on his body.

He wants to hit the weights as he looks to play at 185 pounds next year so he can take the hits but still be explosive.

“The best ability is availability,” Mathis said. “I’m trying to make sure my body is ready and built to take the hits to help us get some wins.”


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