Pamela McMath feared for her son’s safety.

She was concerned about her 3-year-old boy becoming so exhausted from running the block that he would fall and hurt himself. Slow down, she’d say to him.

He kept running full speed, from one end of the street to the other. He was in a race, in a race with “him,” he’d tell his mom.

“He would say, ‘Mama, I’m going to beat him,’ ” Pamela McMath recalled. “I’d say, ‘You going to beat him, baby? Well, beat him.’ ”

Pamela never really understood who her son was racing. She assumed it was a neighborhood boy.

“He would tell me ‘I couldn’t catch him,’ ” Pamela said. “I said, ‘That’s OK, Racey, you’re going to catch him. You’re going to beat him one day.’ ”

“Well,” Pamela says, a smile creeping across her face, “he was running against his shadow.”

Racey McMath

LSU receiver signee Racey McMath and his mother, Pamela, walk into the West Campus Apartments to check in with other freshmen a couple of weeks ago.

Racey McMath, LSU’s rookie receiver from New Orleans, began running well before this. He never actually crawled, Pamela said. He began walking at 8 months old, almost half the time of an average child. He’d go from sitting, to standing and then quickly walk forward so fast that his mother and father thought he would fall flat on his face.

He was running before this, too. He was running in the womb, kicking so hard that Pamela feared for the stability of the pregnancy — hence his birth name, Racey.

No, it’s not a nickname.

“A lot of people think that,” Racey smiles.

Meet Racey McMath, a member of the 25-player, seventh-ranked signing class that, besides defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin, is enrolled at LSU. They’re participating in grueling summer workouts with strength staffers and attending meeting sessions with position coaches.

Racey is different from most of the 2017 signees, solely because of the position he plays. He’s one of just two receivers in the group.

On this LSU football team, that makes him special. Counting Racey, there are just eight scholarship receivers on the roster — on the low side for a major college program. For instance, Alabama and LSU last season were tied for the fewest scholarship receivers in the Southeastern Conference at nine each. The league average in 2016 was 11.

In an offense geared toward the run last year, having so few wideouts wasn’t so much of an issue. In coordinator Matt Canada’s new scheme this year, it could be a problem.

“We need some receivers,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said last week during a function in Jackson, Miss.

Enter Racey and fellow signee Mannie Netherly, a midyear enrollee from Texas who participated in spring practice. The duo represents one-fourth of LSU’s scholarship receivers. The Tigers are low in numbers because of departures. Jazz Ferguson became the fifth receiver to transfer from LSU in the last year in December.

Racey isn’t here only to help with depth.

“I’ve got an opportunity to play, go out and compete and work hard,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll be starting next fall.”

The confidence oozes from this 6-foot-3, 212-pound Edna Karr graduate. A three-star prospect and top-30 player in the state in the 2017 class, Racey helped Karr to a 14-0 record and a state championship last year as a senior. He was a top-100 receiver in the nation, picking LSU over the likes of Texas A&M, Miami and Arizona.

Now he’s here, ready to run. That’s something he’s done all of his life, right up until he moved onto LSU’s campus two weeks ago.

To prepare for grueling summer workouts, McMath ran with his friends nightly along the Mississippi River levee this spring — from Cutoff Park, near his home in Algiers, to the river’s ferry launch. It’s a round-trip run of 40 minutes, he said.

“Mama used to run with them for years,” Pamela McMath said of herself. “I used to kill ’em.”

That stopped when Racey entered junior high. She used to give Racey a head start while the two raced on the Navy base track in Algiers.

“Sixth or seventh grade is when I noticed,” Pamela said. “I realized a couple of times it was getting easy for him to catch me. And I didn’t like that.”

Racey isn’t slow.

At two camps last summer, he recorded 4.4 and 4.3-second 40-yard dash times, he said. He’ll start at LSU playing the outside receiver position. And, yes, he’s thrilled about the Tigers’ new-look offense under Matt Canada.

He’s been studying the playbook since it arrived after February’s signing day. It’s nothing like the offense he committed to.

“You can’t eat when the ball’s on the ground,” he said. “When you’re airing the ball out, it’s your time to shine.”

Racey ran track, too, helping the Cougars’ 4x100 relay team to a third place at the state meet last year. He grew up playing baseball, too. He dabbled in basketball, but he eventually dropped the sport because the court wasn’t big enough, Pamela laughed.

“He thought it was a little too boring,” she said.

He just needed more room to run. This is a family of runners.

The McMaths have another speedy son coming up. He’s 12. He also moved in the womb, just like his big brother. What’s his name?

“Yarun,” Pamela said with a smile.

Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter, @RossDellenger.