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.