Former Alabama offensive lineman Evan Mathis blocks against Arkansas in 2004. / Bryant Museum

Evan Mathis started 47 consecutive games on the offensive line for the Crimson Tide in the early 2000’s and now plays guard for the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals.

The Birmingham native talked with GameDay about his career at UA and what he learned from playing during a tough time for the football program.

GameDay: How were you recruited to Alabama? And did your uncle support you no matter where you went?
Evan Mathis: Former UA wide receiver coach and current Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney recruited me during my senior year at Homewood High School. Even if I had offers from other big schools and not one from Bama, I was still going to Bama. I was fortunate enough to get a phone call from Coach Swinney as Auburn’s O-Line coach was leaving my house after telling me I was too small to play in the SEC. Coach Swinney offered me a scholarship and I immediately committed to Alabama.

GD: What was your favorite play in your 47 consecutive starts at Alabama?
EM: It’s hard to call any one play my favorite. It always felt good to help spring big runs in big games. A memorable moment was when Shaud Williams took the first play of the 2002 Arkansas game 80 yards for a TD to set the tone for a great game.

GD: What team did you always look forward to playing?
EM: Auburn and Tennessee games always carry that natural rivalry mentality with them. I loved being able to play against the best of the best whenever we had the chance to do so.

GD: What was a bigger rush? Running out of the tunnel for Alabama or for the Bengals?
EM: Playing in the NFL is fulfilling my lifelong dream, but nothing beats running out of the tunnel in Tuscaloosa.

GD: What is one thing you take from Alabama that you use in life today?
EM: When I was at Bama from 2000-2004, we experienced a rollercoaster of events. NCAA probation, four different head coaches, and all the turmoil I saw was not what I expected when I committed to the school that I expected to be a national title contender. I learned that anything can happen in life and no matter what the situation is, don’t quit.

GD: Bryant Denny stadium now holds 101,821 people. In your wildest dreams, did you think an Alabama home game would have that many people?
EM: It’s not even fair anymore; 80,000 in that stadium was loud. Now over 100,000 screaming fans really makes it hard for opposing teams. That will always be a key to Bama’s home victories.