In 2011, Tyrann Mathieu was a star cornerback for LSU, leading the Tigers to a 13-0 record before faltering in the BCS National Championship Game.
It’s been a hard year for the young man, but he’s working to repair his image and is hopeful that he will be selected in the 2013 NFL draft. In a recent interview with ESPN’s Joe Schad, the Honey Badger let his feelings pour out about a number of subjects.
The 20-year-old was candid about his marijuana habit, saying he abused himself with the drug after a poor performance in LSU’s 21-0 national title loss to SEC rival Alabama.
That use continued throughout the spring and summer, ultimately leading to his dismissal from the team in August and his arrest in October.
Mathieu stated that he had an epiphany while sitting in jail, which is a reason he no longer smokes marijuana:
Sitting in that jail cell, it clicked. Looking at those people, just staring at me. 'You don't belong in here.' They wanted to come through the jail cell and get me. I'm scared now. Because it's reality now. I don't ever want to feel like this again. I'm not going to feel like this again.
While the former Heisman finalist seems sincere enough, it’s going to take more than words to get selected in April’s draft.
He is going to have to put together an impressive combine performance to prove to scouts that he hasn’t lost a step despite missing an entire season of collegiate football.
At 5’9”, 175 pounds, Mathieu is undersized for the NFL, but he played with such tenacity that it allowed for tremendous success on the field. It apparently led to similar expectations off it.
Of his nickname, he said:
Once the Honey Badger took off, it's like, you have to be a different person. You have to be fearless walking around school. You have to have this mean look on your face, like every day is a football game.
Mathieu felt he had a reputation to uphold, even if it wasn’t the person he truly was on the inside, when he stepped off the gridiron.
It’s a believable excuse, and we sincerely hope the young man gets another shot at success in the pros. He’s extremely talented and could make a serious impact for a coach willing to give second chances.
Will Mathieu find a home in the NFL?
The New Orleans native hopes his tale turns out to be one reminiscent of Ray Lewis’, describing himself and his dream scenario:
Passionate person on the field. Passionate person off the field. Leader on the field, off the field. That’s how I see my story ending.
We hope Mathieu can find a modicum of the success that the Baltimore Ravens star has achieved during his prolific 17-year NFL career.
The Honey Badger has his work cut out for him, and there is a long, arduous path ahead. We wish him the best of luck.