Georgia quarterback D’Wan Mathis fully cleared for game action after MRI
ATHENS — Georgia redshirt freshman D’Wan Mathis has received clearance to take part in games after undergoing an MRI one year after his emergency brain surgery.
A source with knowledge of the situation confirmed the positive results of the MRI on Thursday.
Mathis had been cleared to go through practices since last November, and Kirby Smart indicated he would be a full participant in spring football drills before the COVID-19 pandemic suspended all collegiate sports activity on March 12.
UGA does not typically tackle its quarterbacks to the ground in practices. The Bulldogs go full speed and “thud,” players wrapped up without being taken to the ground to avoid injuries.
The 6-foot-6, 205-pound Mathis was rushed to Piedmont Athens Regional Hospital last May after the UGA medical staff, led by director of sports medicine Ron Courson, diagnosed his symptoms as life threatening.
“The honest truth, waking up in a hospital bed, and seeing my parents, and seeing how my head looked and everything, man, it was humbling,” Mathis, whose skull surgery involved a metal plate secured by screws, said following the Sugar Bowl.
“I was like, wow you are so blessed, be thankful that you are still here.”
Terence Mathis, D’Wan’s father, stated simply that “Georgia saved my son’s life.”
D’Wan was in the ICU unit for days following the surgery and lost more than 20 pounds after his skull was cut open to remove the life-threatening cyst.
It took months for him to gain back his weight and strength, but Mathis was determined to return to practice.
By November and into the bowl season, Mathis was working out with a modified helmet and running the scout team, earning the praise and confidence of Smart throughout the offseason.
“D’Wan’s been scout-team quarterback the last couple of weeks now and has done a tremendous job,” Smart said last November. “He helped with the Bo Nix scout team stuff. He’s able to simulate some of these guys we’ve played, so that has been a big bonus for us.”
Smart indicated during a virtual G-Day Game telecast last month that Wake Forest graduate transfer Jamie Newman had not yet clinched the starting job.
“You evaluate our quarterbacks, and you look at it and you say ‘I’ve got a guy who had a major surgery, I got a guy that just came out of high school, I’ve got a guy that’s been a No. 2 last year, Stetson, and then I have a transfer from Wake that we don’t know a lot about, as far as in our system,” Smart said.
“So we have a lot of unknowns at that position.”
Smart’s assessment of the QB competition wasn’t much different on Thursday, just hours before USC transfer J.T. Daniels announced his commitment to Georgia.
“We don’t even know the threshold or the capacity of some of our players,” Smart said. “We did not get to go through spring ball with necessarily some of the positions, especially on offense, of guys to see what they can handle.”
More than once source close to the team told DawgNation that Mathis was throwing the ball equally well if not better than Newman in the team’s voluntary workouts outside of the supervised winter conditioning.
Mathis ran the 100-yard dash in 10.8 seconds in high school and his running skills and athleticism were on display in the 2018 G-Day Game
Mathis was 15-of-28 passing for 113 yards in the game and caught a double-reverse pass from Matt Landers for a 39-yard touchdown.
D’Wan, he’s explosive,” Jake Fromm said of his former understudy. “I think he converted three or four first downs in a row with his legs.
“The guy can run the ball, he can throw it 70 yards, he’s going to be a great player.”
Investing in Georgia
Mathis made his commitment to Georgia quarterbacking duties clear when he chose to stay in Athens after on-campus activity was suspended.
It provided insight into the trust he has built with Courson and the UGA medical staff, and his comfort in living in Athens.
“D’Wan came back on spring break and told me he loves where he is from, but that he needed to go back to Georgia,” Terence Mathis said in a March 28 interview.
“Georgia could have given up on my son, but instead, Kirby and his staff have treated D’Wan as though he was their own son. They’ve used every possible resource to stay behind him and keep him engaged with the team after saving his life.”
But now Daniels is in play, and there are suspicions the UGA quarterback room may have reached its tipping point.
If Daniels receives a waiver for immediate eligibility, it’s hard to imagine four quarterbacks getting repetitions as Georgia competes for a national championship this season.
Freshman Carson Beck is also expected to be in the mix, along with redshirt junior Stetson Bennett.
Mathis was Ohio State’s quarterback of choice in the 2019 signing class before Justin Fields jolted Georgia by transferring from the Bulldogs’ program following his freshman season.
Mathis determined the Buckeyes were not being forthcoming in December of 2018 when they said they were not recruiting Fields, and he chose to trust in Georgia, signing and enrolling in January of 2019.
It remains to be seen how Mathis’ future will play out, but the Oak Park, Mich., product is once again healthy and ready to compete full-go on the football field.