By Paul M. Banks
Fresno State’s Ryan Mathews is the nation’s leading rusher, and by far the best runner that you’ve never heard of. With his durability, balanced running style and explosive bursts, he now finds himself the Fresno State season record holder for rushing )despite missing a , with a game left to play; and #2 on Mel “Helmet Hair” Kiper’s list of running backs in the junior class.
Because he plays in a mid-major conference, Mathews’ amazing season, and collegiate career has been unfairly overlooked. However, Mathews seems to due his best work against the toughest competition, accruing his season high 234 yards rushing against #6 Boise St. and putting up a C-Note against both #4 Cincinnati and a 9-3 Wisconsin team.
He’s set a school record with 10 straight 100 yard games, and being first in the nation in rushing for 10 straight weeks. With a whole year of eligibility left, he’s the Bulldogs career rushing TD leader, and just 300 and change away from the career rushing record. But his most impressive statistic might be his production against Boise St. accounted for 17% of all total rushing yards that the Broncos have surrendered all season.
“I don’t pay much attention to that, it my mom’s business to worry about, she’s all into that stuff,” Mathews said about his personal records. Following Fresno’s 53-52 win at Illinois in the regular season finale, I had an exclusive with Mathews. I asked him what he believed his biggest strengths and weaknesses as runner to be.
“I think my vision, I can see a hole coming when it’s about to be made, and I need to work on my speed and everything,” he said. Mathews will likely declare for the NFL Draft after the bowl game, so I also felt it necessary to ask Mathews how he’s grown over the course of his college career.
“Playing through pain, it’s a mental game in addition to being physical. When you get dinged up, knowing you’re not hurt, you know it’s just part of the game. People are going to get dings and little things here and there, part of football,” he responded.
In the post game presser I asked Coach Pat Hill about what makes Mathews a superlative runner, “He’s got great balance, explosive quickness and his speed is very good, he’s got all the weapons to be an outstanding running back at any level.”