Claudy Mathieu signed as an undrafted free agent for the Miami Dolphins.
Like many college graduates, Claudy Mathieu is going to head to Miami right after he gets his diploma.
But he’s not going for vacation.
Mathieu, a 2011 graduate of George Washington High School, signed as an undrafted free agent with the Dolphins on Saturday night after the NFL Draft was completed.
He will graduate from Notre Dame College (Ohio) on Saturday and then he’s immediately bound for Miami, where he will begin his professional career.
It’s everything he’s ever wanted and then some.
“It’s really a blessing,” said Mathieu, who plays defensive line. “My phone was blowing up right after the draft. Miami was the perfect fit for me. They have a lot of good veterans who I can learn from, but they didn’t draft a defensive end. They felt they could get one after the draft and they called me.
“I looked at a lot of teams and the rosters, and Miami seemed like a perfect fit. I just wanted a chance to compete and they offered me that. I’m really blessed they’re giving me that.”
Miami didn’t sign him to be nice. They’re getting a football player who is coming off a strong senior season.
In the fall, while playing for Euclid, Ohio-based Notre Dame, Mathieu recorded 58 tackles, 14.5 for a loss, and 8.5 sacks.
He holds the career record in both tackles for a loss with 43.5 and sacks with 26, and ranks in the top five for career tackles and unassisted tackles. Mathieu started his college career at California University in Pennsylvania, but didn’t play in a game before transferring after his sophomore year.
At Notre Dame, everything just clicked.
“I loved the school because it was small and I was given a chance to break out a little bit,” said Mathieu, who grew up in Olney. “It was the perfect situation for me. I wouldn’t be here without all the great people at Notre Dame who helped me.”
Mathieu also credits his time at Washington for his success.
He played three years at Olney, but transferred to Washington for his senior season.
It wasn’t football practice that made him a better player, but the other things that put him on the right track.
“I learned that you have to do things off the field, like weightlifting, working out and working hard,” Mathieu said. “I wouldn’t have gotten to college if I didn’t go to Washington. I just learned there that you have to be willing to put in as much work as possible. You have to outwork people if you want to be one of the best.”
Mathieu never had to search for a role model in that department.
Mathieu’s mom, Monique Jean-Baptiste, sacrificed a lot so Mathieu and his four siblings (two older sisters, two younger brothers) could thrive. Those sacrifices didn’t go unnoticed, and it’s a huge reason for Mathieu’s NFL career.
“My mom did everything for us,” Mathieu said. “She came over from Haiti and raised five kids by herself. She did that by working overtime, working on her day off, picking up shifts, she did whatever she needed to do to help us. I’ll never forget that.
“I came home to be with her this weekend because there’s nobody I wanted to be around more when I signed. My goal is to make it. I have to make it. I have to work hard so I can help my mom retire. I want to take care of her the same way she took care of me.”
His mom was always his biggest role model, but in terms of football, Mathieu paid attention to his hometown team for inspiration.
He grew up in the Brian Dawkins era, and when he did his electrifying entrance, Mathieu was mesmerized.
“I started playing football in eighth grade, but I moved here from Boston in 2004 and that Eagles team was great,” Mathieu said. “I remember Dawkins and Trent Cole and Jeremiah Trotter. Especially Dawkins. I remember him, I don’t want to say dance, but how he would do his routine before taking the field. That really made me want to play football.”
Mathieu now has his shot to play. But if making it is hard, staying there is even harder.
Mathieu is happy, but he’s far from satisfied.
“Miami is getting a player who is willing to do whatever it takes,” Mathieu said. “They’re getting someone who is willing to do whatever it takes to be great. I want to make the Hall of Fame. I want to be great. I want to be a great player and a great team guy. I want to be exactly what they want.”
And when his playing days are over, Mathieu wants to stay around the game.
Football isn’t a job, a hobby or an occupation. Football is life, and he wants to be around the game forever.
“I want to play for as long as I can,” said Mathieu, who will graduate with a sports management degree with a minor in coaching. “After that, I want to be a coach or an agent. I love being around the game.
“Football is the second-most important thing in my life behind my mom and my family. I’ve been very fortunate. God blessed me with a great family and great mentors and coaches. I didn’t have a dad growing up, but I had so many people who looked out for me. I was blessed. Now I want to make them all proud.”
It’s safe to say he already has. ••