An NFL Star Among Us


Kylie Tarver and Katelyn Morrow

Former Blackman football player I’tavius Mathers is sharing his skills with our freshman football team. After six years of being away from Blackman, he returned to where it all started.

Mathers went to Blackman high school and won the Mr. Football award in 2011. Winning this was a great achievement that he worked hard for.

“I wanted to set a goal for myself to win that. It meant a lot once I actually got to win it,” Mathers stated.

After graduating in 2012, he spent three years playing for Ole Miss. He expressed how he “learned a lot of stuff from college and from coaches there as well.” His experiences there taught him a lot about life and football, as well. Once three years passed, he transferred to MTSU and finished college.

As Mathers traveled on to the NFL, he injured himself at a Jaguar’s practice. He experienced a “cervical spinal cord injury” and was carried off of the field on a stretcher.

Unable to stay away from his love of football, he returned to Blackman to help coach the freshman football team.

“Listen to the little details. That’s a big part of everything. Doing the right thing on the field and off the field,” Mathers stated when asked how he wants to impact the aspiring football players.

As he works with the team he hopes to “show them how you’re supposed to practice and play the game and teach them everything that I know.” His young age along with his quiet hands on teaching techniques have shown the players a new way of being coached then they are used to. Helping the running backs and linebackers have given the players and Mathers a new experience.

“It’s an interesting question because he’s never been a defensive player or coached defense, so it’s kind of been a learning experience for him,” head football coach Kit Hartsfield stated. The players are taking his coaching and advice and applying it to the game.

“He’s helped our running backs and our linebackers a lot. He’s taught us many things that we didn’t know before,” Blackman linebacker Cole Reed stated. Mathers is described by the team as a chill person who can be strict when he needs to. His hands on and visual coaching technique has improved the team’s footwork and skill as a whole. As the team improves, he hopes to have the best effect on them on and off the field.

The Blackman football coaches are also seeing a great improvement in the teams playing ability as well as their attitudes. Hartsfield described Mathers’ attitude as a very positive when dealing with the team.

“Just having him around. You know he’s such a nice person, a positive person. Anytime he walks in a room, it’s just a positive energy he puts out. Being a Blackman Alumni just adds to it,” Hartsfield stated.

Mathers has also expressed his hope to be seen and go back to playing professionally.

“Hopefully, I get picked up soon. I have a combine to go to Sunday, and if I impress someone, hopefully they’ll sign me. That’s the plan but if not I’m fine with it. I still made my dream come true. I can live with it,” Mathers stated.

Mathers elaborates on his hope to go back by explaining his hope to become a firefighter if he doesn’t go back to the NFL.

“I hope to keep coaching, but also, I’m in the process of becoming a firefighter, so hopefully we’ll see how that goes. With my schedule being set up and everything I should still be able to coach,” Mathers stated.

Our freshmen are learning and gaining many important skills from Mathers for their future football careers. They are taking in his advice and skills, making the most of the experience, and putting it towards their careers in football.