Ole Miss revokes scholarship offer to Georgia LB because of knee injury

Ole Miss, under the direction of first-year coach Hugh Freeze, pulled the offer of LB commit Mario Mathis (AP)

Ole Miss, under the direction of first-year coach Hugh Freeze, pulled the scholarship offer of LB commit Mario Mathis (AP)

One of Georgia’s top linebackers had his football scholarship revoked by Ole Miss because “they didn’t like progress of his recovery from knee surgery,” according to his father.

Mario Mathis of Thomasville High School had been committed to Ole Miss for nearly three months. He got a big surprise when he showed at Ole Miss for camp this past weekend.

“They told us he was no longer on the commitment list,” said Mario’s father, David Fletcher told the AJC. “They basically pulled the scholarship offer.”

“It was frustrating for that to happen because we thought we were solid with Ole Miss. Mario loves the place, loves the coaches. We thought it was a done deal. It kind of surprised us. Well, it definitely surprised us. But I know college football is business.”

Mathis tore his ACL before his junior season but played through the pain because it was improperly diagnosed as a knee strain. Mathis underwent surgery on January 17, and later committed on May 3 to Ole Miss over Mississippi State, South Florida and South Alabama after visiting the school. Ole Miss was aware of the injury at the time, and coach Hugh Freeze personally accepted the commitment from Mathis over the phone.

Fast forward to this past weekend: Mathis did a light workout for the Ole Miss coaches and was examined by the team trainer (who said the Mathis recovery was on schedule, according to Fletcher). Then they started getting mixed signals from the Ole Miss staff, and knew something was wrong. They met personally with Freeze, and the news didn’t get any better.

“They said it was strictly because of the leg,” Fletcher said. “If he comes back 100 percent, then they said he would be back on the recruiting board.

“But the offer has been pulled. And if Ole Miss fills up with linebackers before they decide they would take him, then Mario is kind of out luck with them … it’s just very frustrating for this to happen.”

What are Mario’s other options? He’s starting from scratch. After committing to Ole Miss, he cut off contact with the other schools.

“It will all work out,” Fletcher said. “Mario will be healthy when he needs to be. He’s close right now.”

UPDATE: On Tuesday morning, The Clarion-Legder’s Hugh Kellenberger wrote about Mathis, later updating the story with this:

A source has indicated that Mathis’ scholarship offer was dependent on his knee making the necessary progress, and the staff did not see that during the camp. Ole Miss will continue to recruit Mathis.

We went back to the Mathis family on Tuesday afternoon and asked if there was a contingency on the commitment, and his father replied, “You know, who knows? We didn’t understand it that way. Everything from beginning to end was solid. I don’t want to get into a ‘he said, she said’ thing. It was our understanding that it was a solid offer … It is what it is. We’ll be all right. We know everything will work out how it’s supposed to in the end.” Mathis also talked to two Ole Miss coaches on Tuesday. “Mario still likes Ole Miss a lot. They told him they liked him and to get well.”

UPDATE II: In a text message to the AJC later Tuesday afternoon, Mario’s father said: “You asked if the offer was contingent on Mario’s health, I think I’ve answered that but I always assumed Mario would have to get back to 100% to be able sign with anybody, including Ole Miss. We are not mad at anyone, still like Ole Miss. Mario may still end up there. We were just sad the commit was pulled. Thanks.

UPDATE III: Robert Nkemdiche, the No. 1 overall college prospect in the nation who has committed to Clemson but visited Ole Miss earlier this month, heard about the Mathis situation and tweeted, “Messed up what [Ole Miss] did to Mario Mathis.” Nkemdiche even tweeted at Mathis, saying “Keep your head up.” This immediately sent Ole Miss, which has hopes of flipping Nkemdiche, into a panic.

UPDATE IV: On Tuesday night, Mario’s mother, Denise Fletcher, offered further clarification to the Memphis Commercial-Appeal, saying, “Ole Miss has never been anything but honest with Mario. He’s not guaranteed a scholarship anywhere unless he can play on that leg. You can’t give a scholarship to someone who can’t physically play. It’s ridiculous to think otherwise.”

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197 comments Add your comment

Unodawg

July 30th, 2012
10:59 pm

Did Coach Freeze ever work for Saban? Just saying….

Grayson Man

July 30th, 2012
11:05 pm

Freeze is just holding space for Nkemdiche and his gang

By the way, Robert’s parents hated Clemson. He’s an Ole Miss “lock” because his brother is there. Plus, his doctor dad will be moving out there for a big $$ job and will be close by in case Rob has to go to JUCO first.

It will all go down just before national Signing Day because Robert doesn’t want to take the heat all year. Book it!

Marcus Dupree

July 30th, 2012
11:10 pm

Is it true that Nkemdiche’s dad has been offered a job near Ol’ Missy?

Drago

July 30th, 2012
11:14 pm

Well, OM deserves whatever they get for as long as Freeze is there.

Dad

July 30th, 2012
11:14 pm

They are just opening up spots for nkemdiche and his crew trust me on that. They probably wont take any more commits because they have about 20 right now,and nkemdiche will be bringing in 3or4 with him. I hope this kid nkemdiche lives up to the hype, I don’t think NO player is worth 4 scholarships I’m sorry

olderdawgthanu

July 30th, 2012
11:16 pm

Wow! Talk about giving a kid the cold shoulder. You would think if Ole Miss had cooled on the kid, they would have put him on ice before the kid decided to drive to Oxford to chill for the weekend.

Dad

July 30th, 2012
11:17 pm

Marcus Dupree Nkemdiche dad is a doctor do unless ole miss needs a team doctor they won’t be offering him a job

Marcus Dupree

July 30th, 2012
11:20 pm

Rumor is that he’s not been offered a job by Ole Miss but by a hospital in that area.

Roll Tide Roll

July 30th, 2012
11:22 pm

I don’t even think Mark Richt would revoke this kid’s scholarship.

Butch league act by Freeze and Old Siss.

chaz

July 30th, 2012
11:23 pm

This smells like a Saban to me.

Tdawg

July 30th, 2012
11:24 pm

What I want to know is what planet is this loser jerk, Freeze from? He must be one arrogant SOB to think that Mario would give Ole Miss the time of day after this BS. A losing school with a loser coach. Go figure. Count your blessing young man. Unlike that other buffoon at least this buffoon showed his true colors before it was to late.

Dad

July 30th, 2012
11:25 pm

Mark Richt wouldnt do that because Reginald Carter has the same issue and Richt hasn’t pulled his offer.

Stephenson Supporter

July 30th, 2012
11:31 pm

reggie carter should have stayed at stephenson. i personally dont think he would have gotten hurt.

boots

July 30th, 2012
11:43 pm

Ole Miss sucks and karma will get them. What a jerk thing to do to this kid who is recovered and working hard. If you commit to them, you are locked in with the student-athlete. Disgusting.

Boll Weevil

July 30th, 2012
11:45 pm

Processed………………..

Boll Weevil

July 30th, 2012
11:46 pm

Processed………. Freeze pulled a Saban………….

merlins

July 30th, 2012
11:53 pm

Bucky is trying to make room for that Robert nkemdiche package deal

Bigboy

July 31st, 2012
12:02 am

--- Bitter Spoiled Recruits---

July 31st, 2012
12:06 am

ole pi$$ —strikes with a saban look-a-like—-another GRAYSHIRT B/S

Coach richt is looking better every day to the average recruit

So its up to you bitter recruits—-go with a winner–call Coach Richt

————–GO DAWGS

Madavis4

July 31st, 2012
12:08 am

I feel bad for the kid. I really do. But it seems okay for kids change their mind by committing, then de-committing, then committing somewhere else, but it is not okay for coaches/schools to change their minds. Hypocritical at best.

budfudlacker

July 31st, 2012
12:12 am

Jesus Christ, check out those wood stained chompers behind Freeze’s lips! Those teeth are so big he could draw up basketball plays on them when he’s coaching girls basketball again in a few years.

Da Truth

July 31st, 2012
12:14 am

Actually, word is spreading quickly that Robert’s dad has accepted the job at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. That’s right….the University of Mississippi (as in Ole Miss). You better believe this will happen and Robert will take those Grayson boys with him as well. Freeze is showing his true colors and will do anything to win. They also recently pulled the scholarship of a kid in Louisiana for academic reasons. That kid has 3.5 GPA. Fishy indeed!

UGA76

July 31st, 2012
12:19 am

He was NOT one of Georgia’s top linebackers. My goodness just another drummed up drama story. ZZZZZ SNOOZE ZZZZZ

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

Duncan

July 31st, 2012
12:33 am

Freeze is cut from the Saban cloth.

Bob

July 31st, 2012
12:34 am

Agree with Madavis4. It’s an unfortunate situation, but check this kid’s offer sheet – Mississippi State, South Florida, South Alabama, OM has to maximize every scholarship to get out of that mess. If they can pick up the #1 player in the country, I see no problem. Plus, it’s only July. If the player makes a recovery, he’ll find himself on a team (with a scholarship).

straight dope

July 31st, 2012
12:35 am

All my life, all I ever wanted to be was Nick Saban. But now I realize all I’ll ever be is Hugh Freeze.

Rumor

July 31st, 2012
12:55 am

I know one of the Grayson players who is friends with Robert and tells me that he is 100percent comitted to Clemson hands down. Although I want him at Georgia. The friend also said he will be taking several of the others there with him. I’m not sure ole miss wants to dabble in a cam newton redux…but if they do I hope the NCAA is all over a potential back door deal to land him. Disgusting.

CPA Charlotte

July 31st, 2012
1:05 am

Seems like Richt should do the right thing here and offer the kid. Would be the right thing to do

CPA Charlotte

July 31st, 2012
1:15 am

Never know both sides of the story. And then the truth. Maybe there was a scholly if the kid was at a certain area of improvement by now. May Richt can offer the kid to do the right thing, which he lives his life by. Allegedly. I understand the author’s job is to create a controversy whether it exists or not, in order to create the most web hits here. But as he had to backtrack in the Nkmedeche saga, let’s remember there’s usually a lot more to the story than what’s written here. Some known by the author and some not known by the author.

Blackoutanyone?

July 31st, 2012
2:10 am

Saban asked a player to delay enrollment six months. If one of you leg humpers can provide a link that states he pulled a kids scholarship, please do so.

Ole Miss is the first D1 school to offer all of the Grayson 5. I’ll lose all respect for Dabo if he gives in and offers Carter.
http://www.clarionledger.com/article/20120729/SPORTS030103/207290318

Andrew

July 31st, 2012
2:14 am

If a recruit can change his mind for any reason so should a school. especially with 6 months left. The kid will be fine. Freeze did the right thing. Why would he want to be at a school that doesn’t want him anymore? Also those comparing Richt to Saban must not like winning NC’s.

Columbus

July 31st, 2012
2:38 am

Ole Miss is ALL about committment. Brainwash the kids to be “committed” to them but this coach obviously doesnt know what it means. Certainly doesnt work but one way.

@blackout….pull, delay, put on hold. ALL the same thing. The original COMMITTMENT/DEAL was pulled off the table. Rescinded. No longer a deal. We ALL know Saban had BETTER prospects and he needed more room and he found more room. At the expense of the recruit AFTER A LONG COMMITTMENT.

Hugh Freeze is making a bad name for himself in the state of Georgia in his FIRST year and I hate to tell him but he is no Saban and kids will not be blinded by his record, like they are Sabans. He dont offer the good possibility of championships.

Saban CAN do that but you cant Hugh!

cheryl

July 31st, 2012
4:40 am

Should Peyton Barber worry…he had that ankle injury as a junior…a lot can happen between now and signing day…Ole Miss pulled one for medical reasons…

Blackoutanyone?

July 31st, 2012
5:35 am

“@blackout….pull, delay, put on hold. ALL the same thing. The original COMMITTMENT/DEAL was pulled off the table. Rescinded. No longer a deal.”

These schools invest a lot of time, money and resources into these kids. On top of that, with the limit at 85, coaches are forced to make tough decisions in order to manage the roster. Unless your warden Richt and you don’t mind self imposing scholarship reductions on your own program. Asking an athlete to delay enrollment for six months to allow said athlete to rehab an injury is NOT the same as revoking his or her scholarship out right. Only a complete and total milk dud would confuse the two. I wont even get into “the original commitment/deal” as it relates to these kids switching commitments before signing day.

tenn.DAWG

July 31st, 2012
5:59 am

That will come back to bite him,what goes around comes around.

Bad Dawg

July 31st, 2012
6:32 am

Sadly this is the only way to compete in the SEC especially at a school like Ole Miss. Good thing there is plenty of time for him to look elsewhere. Will Richt ever learn or will he continue to self impose sanctions on his team?

Paddy

July 31st, 2012
7:06 am

DaTruth……If a scholly is pulled from a player for academic reasons, as you suggest, how is that any coaches fault? The success or failure of an academic record lays at the feet of the student not his future head coach in college!

Don’t like the policy of not standing by your word as a coach over an injury. Red shirt the player and give your staff a chance to get him back on the field. Don’t see CMR pulling this stunt.

[...] it didn’t take Hugh Freeze long at all to master the intricacies of SEC roster management. One of Georgia’s top linebackers [...]

TJ

July 31st, 2012
7:09 am

Saban part 2…and once again a player and his family are treated like pieces of meat by a coach, yet nothing ever comes of it because the players and their family never think it will be them that it happens to. I wonder if they’d still love Nkimdiche as much if he tore up a knee?

Beast from the East

July 31st, 2012
7:09 am

Hope he goes to Missy State and lays it on the Rebs for 4 years. Now THAT would be a fitting end to this story.

Kerryb

July 31st, 2012
7:18 am

Beast from the East

July 31st, 2012
7:09 am

Hope he goes to Missy State and lays it on the Rebs for 4 years. Now THAT would be a fitting end to this story.

_________________________________________________________

That’s exactly what I was about to post. This is pretty pathetic. Ole Miss is not loaded with players that they couldn’t take a chance and see if this kid is okay when he has time to rehab it to 100%. They could have red shirted him this season and give him time.

poopdawg

July 31st, 2012
7:24 am

Good comment Beast.

LakeDawg

July 31st, 2012
7:43 am

This is just a reminder that college football is cutthroat. All that talk of family and commitment is total bullsh^t. Recruits should be reminded that Richt is special. He lives his recruitment speech. Very rare. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth if he offers.

Browncoat

July 31st, 2012
7:49 am

Good ole college football, it’s all about the kids. LOL

Browncoat

July 31st, 2012
7:49 am

Good ole college football, it’s all about the kids. LOL

Mike

July 31st, 2012
8:03 am

That’s football in the SEC, son.

It’s a business, not about education at all.

Miamidawg

July 31st, 2012
8:10 am

I guess you dont have to be good to do stuff like this. Case of a know nothing do nothing program trying to act like the big boys.

Cleo

July 31st, 2012
8:11 am

Most of you don’t seem to understand that this kid is STILL IN HIGH SCHOOL. There were no binding offers made and the fact that Ole Miss took him off their commitment list only means that he needs to show that he can play during his senior year of high school. Every other coach would have done the same thing. They didn’t pull his scholly when he showed up for college. Sheesh.

gt4ever

July 31st, 2012
8:14 am

Stupid Asinine thing to do Coach…. Ole Miss is a JOKE anyway…