How tough is outside linebacker Mario Mathis of Thomasville (Ga.)? Tough enough to play the entire 2011 season with a bum left knee.
"I tore my ACL last summer," Mathis said. "It really didn't affect me."
After the season ended, Mathis injured the knee even more in the weightroom. This time, he had to have surgery.
"They did it Jan. 17," Mathis said. "It went great. It's been six weeks. I'm getting ready to get my brace off March 6. I'm going to be 100 percent better than before."
So far, Mathis' recruitment is going well. Ole Miss offered last week to become the second team to pull the trigger. South Florida was the first. The 6-feet-2, 225-pound Mathis recently visited the Bulls, whom he claimed are recruiting him hardest.
"It was amazing," Mathis said. "They send me letters and explain how hard their team works, and that academics are the very first thing they think about. It's a really good program. When I was there, I didn't get to go on campus. We just toured the stadium. I'm going to try to get to one of their practices. Probably in April."
The Ole Miss offer was not expected.
"I was excited to get the second offer, but it came out of nowhere," Mathis said. "I'm definitely interested. It's an SEC school."
According to Mathis, Clemson and Georgia Tech also are showing a good deal of interest. He is visiting the Tigers on Saturday and expects to attend the Yellow Jackets' spring game, along with one at Tennessee. Mathis added there is a good chance he will visit South Carolina in late March, and Ole Miss at some point as well.
"I went to Georgia Tech for their junior day," Mathis said. "It was good. The facilities are so big. It seemed like they treat you real well. Georgia Tech was telling me they would love to have me."