NFL opportunity opens doors

Senior wide receiver DeMarcus Mathes holds the record for highest average gain on punt returns at Southern.

Senior wide receiver DeMarcus Mathes holds the record for highest average gain on punt returns at Southern.

Hallie Hocker

Although DeMarcus Mathes grew up a Dallas Cowboys fan, he may be sporting the red and white gear of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Mathes was approached by the Chiefs and the Cleveland Browns for the NFL Draft this year, but his name wasn’t called.

However, he wasn’t disappointed or worried because prior to the draft; he knew he was going to the Chiefs’ rookie camp April 28 through Saturday.

He has an agent and will go through three days of two-a-days along with all the rookies drafted and some second-year players.

He’ll then go back to Kansas City after he graduates and work out with the team before they decide who to sign in mid to late summer.

Mathes, who has been dreaming of this opportunity since high school, thanks God for the opportunity he has to play professional football.

He said his family was also excited that he has the chance to play on a higher level.

“They said to take advantage of the opportunity because you don’t know how many times you’ll get this chance,” Mathes said. “They told me to thank God.”

Mathes’ teammates were also excited for him.

“I was really happy for him,” said junior defensive end Elbert “E.J.” Johnson. “He has hard work ethic and is determined.”

Junior corner Ben Augustin said Mathes has opened the door for other athletes.

“I think he’ll make it on the next level; his work ethic is unbelievable,” Augustin said. “[From what I’ve seen] he’s elusive. That there will give him an edge in the league.”

Mathes doesn’t just focus on life on the field; he wants to be a positive influence on his teammates as well.

“He’s a quiet-type leader,” Johnson said. “His actions speak louder than words.”

Sophomore defensive end Joey Wagner agreed.

“He’s a quiet guy, but he gets the job done,” Wagner said.

Wagner also said Mathes is always positive toward his teammates.

“He’s a good role model,” Johnson said. “A lot of people look up to him.”

Mathes says he wants his teammates to know he’s a Christian.

“I want to be a vessel to everybody that says ‘Put God first and all your dreams will come true,'” he said.

Although he can see himself playing football for 10-12 more years, Mathes, a secondary education major, said he really wants to be a coach and teach the future.

He wants to finish his degree, coach high school football and eventually move up to the college level.

However, right now he’s focused on the rookie camp. Lions’ head football coach John Ware suggested Mathes workout with next year’s team in spring training.

Mathes has also been training and running with track.

“I’m nervous and antsy,” he said. “I’m ready to get up there and show them what I can do.”

Despite the outcome, Mathes remains calm.

“Continue to seek God in everything you do, and everything else will take care of itself, school and football,” he said.