Wise beyond his years

Upland, Calif., DE Joe Mathis credits his success to playing against older kids

Updated: March 5, 2012, 3:12 PM ET
By Erik McKinney | We Are SC
Few high school football players compete at a higher level than Upland defensive end Joe Mathis. While some would say Mathis plays with a passion that borders on rage, the 6-foot-4, 250-pound, 16-year-old standout likely would argue that he's used to being the bullied, not the bully.

[+] EnlargeJoe Mathis
Courtesy Dave SmarzichJoe Mathis has seen his recruitment take off, as Michigan, Oklahoma and Nebraska are schools that have joined USC in offering him.
Mathis began playing football at an early age. Or, more precisely, he was signed up for football at an early age. At six years old, Mathis joined the Ontario Outlaws, a Junior All-American team in suburban Los Angeles' Inland Empire. But because he was over the weight limit, Mathis could only practice with the team and served as a water boy during the games.