Former Washington Buck linebacker JoJo Mathis at UW Pro Day

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 17: Linebacker Joe Mathis
SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 17: Linebacker Joe Mathis /

After a season of hard work and dedication, former Washington Football “Buck” linebacker JoJo Mathis competes at 2018 UW Pro Day

Had you ever heard that the hardest part of any journey is the first step?  I would assert it is the second first step.  And right now, it is that step which former Washington Football “Buck” linebacker JoJo Mathis took today. JoJo Mathis is a rare combination of desire and freakish good defensive instincts, a dangerously effective combination when it all clicks.  Unfortunately, the season ending injury from a torn ligament in 2016 was only the beginning of a very long road back.

During the ligament repair, his surgeon inserted nine screws to fuse a foot bone. Then Mathis returned for a second operation to remove the screws. After each operation, Mathis had to relearn everything from the hip down.  What came next? An arduous climb back, of over a year in the making.  A long hard-fought battle of finding strength within.  And now, at the performance of his Washington Pro Day legacy, I stand and applaud the young man whose commitment has brought him back to the point of origin and… closure.

Can Mathis earns another NFL opportunity?

The NFL, like every major organization, has an entrenched and predictable system whereby young men transform from NCAA to NFL football player. And for the number of NCAA hopefuls, it works well enough. But for every system, there is that exception to the rule. That one or two cases where the norm simply is not effective. And so, someone must change the system, or work outside of that system, to connect a prospect with his dream of playing in the NFL.

JoJo Mathis is one such exception. His journey to UW Pro Day was a long one, a personal one, and a very very passionate one. And when he got there, he showed up in full force.

For a young man, today was more than competition. It was closure. And it was an investment in the dream to play NFL football.

Related Story: Patriots acquire former Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton from Browns

The greatest performance of the day.

How did his scores rank among NFL hopefuls? Unless NFL representatives talk (and there is little expectation of them doing so), there is no way to know. But the toughest part of this journey is now behind a young man I hold in the highest regard. And 31 NFL team scouts were on hand to jot down notes, and perhaps more, in their records.

His name still stirs hope and instills the imagination of any NFL fan to the scenario of finding that next great pass rusher.  And that was doubled down today by a man whose travels to this day have taken two years to complete.

The heart of every great athlete is the test within.  JoJo Mathis has passed with flying colors.

Next: The passion of JoJo Mathis

Scouting Summary

Check out the links provided directly below. Read up on the underrated Husky.

* Highlights
* Inside The Pylon Profile
* Bleacher Report Profile
* Sports-Reference Stats
* BehindSteelCurtain Interview

It was a year ago when so many hoped for the young man to land on “their” team. In the end, Mathis landed a “prove-it” opportunity by getting an invitation to audition for the Houston Texans. Not yet 100 percent, Mathis regrouped and is back at it again. Hopefully, there is an NFL team willing to meet him part-way.