The short-term emphasis of LSU head football Ed Orgeron on the recruiting trail has been to replenish the safety position.
After landing the nation’s top two safeties – Sage Ryan and Derrick Davis Jr. – in the recruiting class of 2021, Orgeron struck gold once again Friday with a Class of 2022 commitment from Ponchatoula five-star prospect Jacoby Mathews, the nation’s second-rated safety and No. 30 overall player.
“For me, I was locked in on Arizona State with the minority coaching staff and all having NFL experience,” Mathews told Rivals.com. “I liked them a lot, but I just started to think about it more and more. It always was gonna come down to them and LSU, but I was thinking more and more, getting on the phone with LSU these last few days and a lot of emotion went into it … and I started thinking about LSU all day.”
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Mathews gives LSU its 13th 2022 commitment and third five-star prospect along with St. Thomas More quarterback Walker Howard and Neville offensive lineman Will Campbell. He’s also the eighth in-state pledge to join the Tigers’ third-rated recruiting class.
“It’s more relief now than anything, but I am excited about my future,” Mathews told Rivals.com. “To represent Ponchatoula and my town, and how much I excitement I bring to it and the spotlight I put on it, I know they’ll be happy with me staying home. It’s something I didn’t think about with the decision, but it’s something that I love.”
Mathews had accumulated nearly 30 scholarship offers and aside from Arizona State, reportedly was also seriously considering Alabama, Florida and Mississippi State.
LSU gained a leg up over the Bulldogs for Mathews’ commitment on Friday when they hired MSU recruiting assistant Mason Smith – an LSU graduate – to join the Tigers’ recruiting staff.
“I think Mason Smith is a great guy,” Mathews said. “Me and Mason have the closest relationship out of every recruiter I’m close with. He recruits hard and is a hard-working guy. This move definitely brought light to my eyes. The way he works (stands out) and works to get kids over and build relationships and become more of a big brother, that’s important.”
Mathews, the state’s No. 3 prospect behind Howard and Campbell, has been a two-way player for veteran coach Hank Tierney and helped Ponchatoula to a 7-2 record and trip to the Class 5A state regionals in 2020.
He was a first team Class 5A All-State selection at athlete. He started at quarterback and accounted for 1,582 yards and 23 touchdowns last season for the Green Wave.
Mathews has also played wide receiver when current LSU quarterback TJ Finley was at Ponchatoula as well as safety. As a member of the school’s basketball team, he averaged 12. 5 points and 6.5 rebounds.
“I had a lot of Zoom calls with (LSU defensive coordinator) Coach (Daronte) Jones and he showed me how he’d use me,” Mathews said. “Moving forward, I’ll be a defensive back at LSU, anything you can imagine – playing over the top and coming down in the nickel. On certain plays or snaps, maybe come off the edge and blitz the quarterback or rush the quarterback. It’s gonna be a good sight to see.”