Maryland’s new receivers’ coach Chris Beatty has been on the job less than 24 hours, but he’s already hitting the recruiting trail hard. Beatty hadn’t even moved into his office in College Park, Md., yet before he sent off a text to the coaches at North Florida Christian (Tallahassee, Fla.). The former Syracuse and Virginia assistant, who has deep ties in the Sunshine State, had been actively recruiting cornerback Armunz Mathews, and now Beatty wanted the three-star at defensive-back needy Maryland.
Mathews, who pledged to South Florida after his sophomore year, wasn’t inclined to entertain Beatty’s overtures at UVA and for the last month at Syracuse. But UMD’s evidently a different story.
“Coach Beatty literally just got the job at Maryland, and I direct messaged him on Twitter after my coaches told me about it,” Mathews said. “Coach Beatty wanted to get in touch with me, and he asked me if had interest in Maryland. I said, ‘Yes sir.’ And he said, ‘Well, let’s make it happen.’ And then he offered me, and we set up an official visit for January 22. I’m real, real excited about it.”
Mathews has known Berry for almost two years. The Tallahassee native said he “appreciated” how the ardent recruiter stayed on him, even though he was firmly committed to South Florida. Mathews said not many other assistants remained in contact after he made his pledge.
“Coach Beatty is an awesome recruiter and a great guy. I love talking to him,” Mathews said. “And I’m very happy that he’s offering me at Maryland, because that’s a school I really like. They’re brining in a lot of good players, and they’re trying to make some noise in the Big Ten. I feel like they’re trying to build something special there, and they need guys in the secondary to play right away. So all of that meant a lot to me.”
Mathews said he watched UMD several times on TV last year and noticed the breakdowns on the back end. Therefore, he knew Beatty wasn’t giving him “coach speak” when the recruiter let the corner know UMD needed players in the secondary.
“It definitely looks like they could use some help in the defensive backfield. It’s a great opportunity for me to step in and play,” Mathews said. “But also, I know Maryland is rebuilding and building up under Coach [D.J.] Durkin, and that’s something that’s very attractive to me. I want to be part of a program that’s on the come-up, going against great competition in a conference like the Big Ten and just proving people wrong. I want to be part of a program on the rise, and it sounds like Maryland’s on the rise.”
Besides the Beatty connection and the fact UMD needs defensive backs, Mathews said the Terps were a program he actually had interest in prior to the offer. He said he first took note of Maryland when ex-wideout Stefon Diggs burst onto the scene three-plus years ago. And more recently he’s watched standout cornerback Will Likely, a Florida native himself.
“Stefon Diggs and Will Likely – those are my guys. Amazing players,” Mathews said. “Maryland was a school I always wanted an offer from because of those two.”
But what about USF? Would Mathews simply drop the Bulls now that the Terps are involved?
“Well, let’s put it this way,” Mathews said. “My situation got a little more complicated with Maryland coming along. I committed to USF a long time ago, and a lot has been going on since then. When I committed, I didn’t really pay attention to other schools. But now some of these other schools have been coming at me hard because they need corners, and I’m thinking maybe I need to take a look to see what’s out there.”
Even so, Mathews will take his official visit to USF Jan. 15. He’ll hit Maryland Jan. 22 and he might head to either South Carolina or California Jan. 29 if either of the latter two offer. The North Florida Christian product said both the Gamecocks and Bears have been “hitting me up” extensively too, and could offer once they review his transcripts.
“South Carolina and Cal are two of my dream schools, so those offers would be big too. It would make it a very tough decision if I had to choose between Maryland, South Carolina and Cal,” Mathews said. “When I saw Marcus Lattimore, I fell in love with South Carolina, and when I saw DeSean Jackson I fell in love with Cal. And Maryland, like I said, I was all about Stefon Diggs and Will Likely.”
On the field, Mathews said he played mostly receiver this year out of necessity. He explained that his team needed more explosive plays on offense and had an abundance of defensive backs, so he shifted to wideout.
That said, Mathews played both ways against three top teams and, “I shut down my man. I allowed like two catches all year.”
“I’m going to be a corner in college,” Mathews said. “That’s the position I’m being recruited at, and that’s where I want to be.”