Dee Mathers will no longer stand under the large shadow cast by his talented older brother.
The Blackman senior athlete spent last season behind older brother I’Tavius Mathers on the depth chart at running back waiting for his opportunity.
However, I’Tavius Mathers is now at Ole Miss. And now Dee Mathers is ready to be the Blaze’s lead running back.
“It feels good now that I won’t have to go by the name of I’Tavius’ little brother,” Dee Mathers admitted. “They are actually calling me Dee now. I kind of like that.”
Dee Mathers rushed for 342 yards with two touchdowns on 60 carries in 2011. He had nearly half of that in a Week 9 loss to Brentwood when he rushed for a career-best 170 yards on 19 carries. It came in his only start of the year at running back after his brother injured his toe.
“That game definitely gives me a little more confidence coming in to this season,” Dee Mathers said.
He will be joined in the backfield by junior fullback Antonio Allen, who is the Blaze’s returning leading rusher with 399 yards on 56 carries. Teammate Cole Notgrass, a junior, will back up Dee Mathers at running back. He rushed for 131 yards on 29 carries.
But Dee Mathers will open the season as the leader in the backfield.
The two Mathers brothers are different styles of runners. Dee Mathers is more of a head down, downhill runner. His brother was more of an elusive back that could cut back and use his speed to make long runs.
Blackman coach Philip Shadowens is confident in the younger Mathers and said he’s ready to be the headliner in the backfield.
“I think he will flourish now,” Shadowens said. “He and I’Tavius are very close. We all wish he was still here because he’s one of the best in the country.
“I’m sure that he’s had a huge shadow to live under, but I expect big things from Dee. I think he will cut loose this year.”
Dee Mathers has spoken to his brother about his expanded role this season. He started at corner last season and will start at free safety this year.
“That requires more work,” Dee Mathers said on the defensive position change. “You’ve got to be able to check in and out of different coverages.”