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Joining the team for Peach Bowl has made Jermaine Mathews 'love Ohio State football even more' as he prepares to start his Buckeye career next week

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Jermaine Mathews will officially arrive at Ohio State to begin his Buckeye career on Sunday, but he already got a taste of life as a football player at Ohio State last week when the Buckeyes faced Georgia at the Peach Bowl.

Mathews was one of three incoming freshmen, along with tight end Jelani Thurman and defensive tackle Will Smith Jr., who joined the Buckeyes in Atlanta to be on the team for their playoff semifinals. college football. Ohio State invited its new mid-year enrollees to go through Peach Bowl preparations with the team and watch the game from the sidelines, and although many of them couldn’t attending due to their participation in the All-American Bowl or Under Armor All-America Game, Mathews took the opportunity to experience the CFP with his future teammates.

Being there as the Buckeyes played on the biggest stage – and ultimately came up short in a 42-41 loss to the Bulldogs – made Mathews even more excited to play for the Buckeyes himself.

“That game really motivated me, I could really say,” Mathews said. Eleven Warriors. “It gives you a chance to really see it in person and see how everything unfolds. For example, if I had watched the game at home on TV, it wouldn’t have been the same feeling. It made me love Ohio State football even more.

Mathews, who spent three days in Atlanta with the Buckeyes and was able to go through pregame walkthroughs and all of the game day festivities with the team, said the trip allowed him to bond more close with Thurman and Smith before their arrival. Campus.

“I have to talk to them a lot, just pick their brains,” Mathews said. “Just really just building that relationship with my new teammates.”

The trip also allowed Mathews to bond with returning Ohio State players who are set to become his teammates. And it gave Mathews first-hand insight into how close the ties are within Ohio State’s football program.

“What really stood out for me about being with the team is the real brotherhood that’s involved in Ohio State football,” Mathews said. “A lot of people talk about it, but what the players are saying is real. It really is a brotherhood. Even after the loss, there was a lot of brotherhood going around. There were a few hugs and just tears and everyone was just sharing their love they had for each other.

“Even before the game, all the talk I heard, all the players just giving their motivation before the game, just their wisdom; it’s a real brotherhood and I just can’t wait to be a part of it.

Spending a full game day with the Buckeyes gave Mathews a clear idea of ​​what to expect when he plays his first Ohio State games as a player in September.

“Just being able to be there and see how the players react to things, how they react during a game, how things were going, just really understanding certain things,” Mathews said of how the experience Peach Bowl helped him. prepare for the start of their career.

“If I had watched the game at home on TV, it wouldn’t have been the same feeling. It made me love Ohio State football even more.– Jermaine Mathews joining the Buckeyes for the Peach Bowl

As Mathews signed his national letter of intent with Ohio State on Dec. 21, the Peach Bowl experience has given the impression that Mathews is poised to play for the team he has. watched throughout his childhood in Cincinnati.

“It’s understood now that I’m really part of the team and can really make a name for myself at my dream school,” Mathews said.

Ranked the 16th-best cornerback and 136th overall prospect in the Class of 2023, Mathews will arrive at Ohio State with aspirations of competing for immediate playing time as a rookie. It’s an opportunity that could realistically be presented to Mathews after the departure of two of Ohio State’s top three cornerbacks last season: Cameron Brown, who is entering the 2023 NFL Draft, and JK Johnson, who entered the transfer portal.

Returning cornerbacks Jordan Hancock, Jyaire Brown and Ryan Turner will likely have the first chance to win the starting job against Denzel Burke, but Mathews thinks he’s capable of making an impact quickly in Columbus.

“I’m super confident. I think my technique and just my athletic ability, I think it ranks up there with a lot of people,” Mathews said. “So I really want my body to be good, my mind, to learn defense, really. I think I have a very good chance of making an early impact next year.

Mathews arrives at Ohio State with the will to work to improve every day as he pursues his ultimate goal of playing in the NFL, and he’s confident the Buckeyes can help him get there with his background. development of professional cornerbacks.

“They’ve done it before with other Ohio corners like me and corners that probably weren’t ranked as high as me,” Mathews said. “So I feel like they’re used to doing that, and then I really believe in the ability of Coach (Tim) Walton. And the staff, I can’t forget them, I’m a big believer in that too, so I feel like it’s just a good mix of everything and it’s going to be some fun times in Columbus.

Mathews is particularly excited about playing for Walton, saying his relationship with the Ohio State secondary/cornerback coach has “become stronger and stronger, I think, every time we speak.”

“I feel like it’s a relationship that’s going to continue to grow, but one that I really appreciate, and I just can’t wait to really get started,” Mathews said.

A late riser in the recruiting process, Mathews was just a three-star prospect when he got his offer from Ohio State on the first day of recruiting camps in June. Over the next six months, Mathews received offers from a host of top college football programs, including Oklahoma, LSU, Alabama, Michigan, Clemson and Miami. Even though Mathews committed to Ohio State in July, other schools continued to recruit him, and Miami nearly convinced Mathews to make an official visit in December.

Ultimately, however, Mathews decided that Ohio State was where he wanted to play and the school he felt would develop him best. And he said that NIL was not a major factor in his recruitment.

“I want to be developed, I really want to get to the NFL, that’s my end goal,” Mathews said. “I’m not really worried about NIL right now. I feel like if I go on the field at Ohio State, all the NIL stuff is going to come. So I really want to be developed as best I can. That’s why I chose Ohio State.

Ryan Day thinks Mathews has a bright future with the Buckeyes because of what he saw from Mathews both in his stellar performance at Ohio State camp last summer and in his senior season at Winton Woods High School, where he won Defensive Player of the Year honors. while leading Winton Woods to 12 straight wins before a regional playoff semifinal loss.

“He’s had a great year this year, playing really, really hard for Winton Woods and the coach (Chad Murphy), and I’ve been really impressed with his ability to compete every day,” Day said on the day of the match. signature. “He’s another guy who went through a lot during the recruiting process and took a lot of calls and a lot of people were blowing that phone, and he was loyal to the Buckeyes. And I think he’s gonna have a great career here.

Being on the sidelines as Ohio State lost its second straight game only fueled Mathews’ competitive fire. As he joins a team that has gone 11-2 in two straight seasons with back-to-back losses to Michigan, Mathews is relishing the pressure that comes with trying to turn the tide in the rivalry game and compete for a national championship.

“That’s probably not a better way to really get in,” Mathews said. “We’re down and we’ve lost to them in consecutive years so I think it’s time to really change. So that’s probably not a better way to come in, we have the chip on our shoulders and he is time to really lock down.

Mathews thinks his desire to win will be the first thing that will stand out to Ohio State fans when they watch him play scarlet and gray.

“I’m very competitive and I don’t like to lose at all. So I feel how competitive I am and how hard-working I am,” Mathews said. “I do a lot of plays, so I’m just going to be able to show it in front of thousands or millions of people. They will love this.


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