Being a member of the University of Toledo football team was probably the last thing Mike Mathews had on his mind in high school.
The 2009 Lake graduate was a quarterback for coach Bob Abbey's Flyers in 2007 and '08, although injuries limited his play during his junior year.
As a senior, Mathews completed 37 of 120 passes (31 percent) for 656 yards and nine touchdowns, and he rushed for 243 yards and three TDs on 67 carries as the Flyers finished with a 3-7 record.
"He did a real nice job at quarterback," Abbey said. "We were a triple-option spread offensive team and he had to make a lot of reads on the run. He combined that with solid skills throwing the football. He was a good leader for us."
First-year UT football coach Tim Beckman and Scott Satterfield, the Rockets' passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach, liked what they saw of Mathews as well.
Mathews is a preferred freshman walk-on at UT.
“Mike is a great kid who works really hard," Beckman said. "He’s the kind of kid we need in this program. I was a walk-on myself, so I know the hard work that goes into making a football team.”
Mathews has not, and won't, see any game action this season for the Rockets, who were 4-6 and 2-4 in the Mid-American Conference's West Division heading into Friday's home game against Eastern Michigan. Mathews is one of 11 preferred walk-ons at UT, but his only action has been in practice on the scout team.
“We needed another quarterback, so we called Mike and asked him if he would be a preferred walk-on," Beckman said. "We looked at some (quarterbacks) last spring and decided he would be a good fit for our program. Mike throws the ball well. He’s one of two quarterbacks on the scout team. We’ve also been able to use him at wide receiver.”
Beckman does not allow freshmen to speak with the media. He said current UT freshmen will be available for interviews once spring ball begins in March.
“We needed another guy to help us on our scout team," Satterfield said. "He was a perfect fit being right here in Toledo. He’s a good-sized kid who can run and throw. That’s what we needed for our scout team.”
Beckman said the Rockets add more walk-ons to the roster once the season starts, but preferred walk-ons are generally viewed as players who might be able to earn a scholarship in the future.
“Mike will have that opportunity to earn a scholarship," Beckman said. "We have a number of young men in our program who are on scholarship that began their careers as walk-ons.
“I think this winter and spring will be important for Mike to highlight himself as a Division I quarterback in training and in spring practice. Until then, it is hard to make a true evaluation of his progress. He’s got some talent. It will be interesting to see how he will do when he gets a chance to throw the ball to Eric Page.”
Page, the Rockets' standout freshman wide receiver, was an All-Ohio quarterback at Springfield High School.
The Rockets have four quarterbacks listed on this year's roster - senior starter Aaron Opelt from Fremont, junior Alex Pettee from Santa Clarita, Calif., and freshmen Terrance Owens from Cleveland and Austin Dantin from Tallahassee Fla.