The choice is a simple one for former LSU standout Tyrann Mathieu.
Either play football for an FCS or lower-division program this fall, or sit out the entire 2012 college football season and risk fading into irrelevance.
The best bet for a successful future in the NFL in Mathieu's case, is to return to the sport this fall, playing football wherever and whenever.
According to ESPN.com via The Associated Press, roughly 20 programs have inquired about potentially providing the one they call the Honey Badger with a transfer option.
Mathieu was dismissed from the LSU football team last week after failing a drug test, and will now have to showcase his talents on a much smaller stage in 2012, if at all.
The danger of sitting out a college football season has been legitimized by the troublesome tale of former Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett.
Clarett was dismissed from the Buckeyes football program in 2003 after a slew of scandals. He wound up entering the 2005 NFL Draft out of shape and far from the dominant player he was during the 2002 season, when he won Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors.
The same disappointing fate could easily await Mathieu if he opts to sit out all of 2012.
Just as Clarett went from Big Ten Freshman of the Year to third-round draft pick and eventual bust, the Honey Badger could go from Bednarik Award (National Defensive Player of the Year) to late-round draft pick and colossal bust.
It doesn't matter that Mathieu forced six fumbles, scored four touchdowns and picked off two passes in 2011, because no one will remember next spring.
The NFL was already skeptical about how Mathieu's skills translate to the next level as a 5'9" defensive back, but after a year of sitting, they would be outright turned off to the idea of wasting a pick on an unpredictable, undersized player.
As long as the Honey Badger is playing football in 2012, he will be on the league's radar.
After all, it was just last season that cornerback Janoris Jenkins completed his transition from SEC stud, to Division II prospect to second-round NFL draft pick.
Mathieu can learn a lot from the lessons taught to players who were once in his situation. With that said, his choice this summer should be an obvious one.
Play football for an FCS program in 2012 and continue to perfect your craft Honey Badger. Do that, and the NFL will come calling.
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