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Phoebus linebacker is 33rd player to commit to ODU
Phoebus linebacker is 33rd player to commit to ODU

Atavius Matthews, a linebacker from Hampton's Phoebus High, has de-committed from Norfolk State to accept a football scholarship at Old Dominion.

Matthews said ODU had earlier offered to "grayshirt" him, meaning he would pay for a semester before going on scholarship. When ODU upgraded to an immediate full ride, he said he jumped.

"It's been my dream to play football at Old Dominion," said Matthews, adding that he attended six games at ODU last fall. "That's where I wanted to go all along."

Matthews, 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, said he called coaches at Norfolk State, Hampton and other MEAC that were recruiting him this week. He said he had committed to Norfolk State weeks ago.

"I told them I appreciated everything they've done but that Old Dominion is where I want to go," he said.

Former Phoebus coach Bill Dee is ODU's defensive coordinator, and five former Phantoms are on the roster.

Matthews, expected to play linebacker at ODU, has a 3.2 grade-point average and an 850 on the SAT, according to an online highlights video.

Matthews was considered an elite recruit until he tore a knee ligament just before his junior season. He successfully rehabilitated the knee, moved from running back to linebacker and had 93 tackles, five forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries last season. He was all-Peninsula District and second team all-Eastern Region.

Matthews is the 33rd player to commit to ODU, including 11 who enrolled in January.

Sixteen of the 22 players expected to sign Wednesday on national signing day are rated two- or three-star recruits by ESPN or Rivals.com. Eight of ODU's commitments are junior college players, who often go unrated by the recruiting services.

Despite his commitment, Matthews plans to follow through on his scheduled visit this weekend -

ODU houses recruits at a hotel on the Virginia Beach Oceanfront.

"They're going to put us up in a nice hotel, feed us well and I'll get the chance to meet my future teammates," he said. "I'm not going to turn that down."

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