Former LSU Tigers defensive back and 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist Tyrann Mathieu has officially entered himself into the 2013 NFL draft (h/t ESPN), but there is still much work that must be done in order to repair his reputation before any team will take the risk of drafting the college star.
Mathieu was suspended by LSU for the 2012 season—and was later dismissed from the team altogether—due to a substance abuse violation. Then, just a few months later, he was arrested on a possession of marijuana charge as well, according to Joe Schad of ESPN.
While Mathieu is not participating at the 2013 Senior Bowl, he is in attendance and is trying to make an impression on the NFL representatives that will be on hand. He knows that he will be grilled with questions, but he’s ready.
Mathieu spoke to the Associated Press at the Senior Bowl about how he feels concerning the intense scrutiny that he’s under and his reason for attending the game:
They have every right to do that. I'm not really looking forward to people trusting me today or tomorrow. Trust takes time, especially when you've done a lot of things for people not to be able to trust you. It may take two years. It may take five years, it may take until I'm 30 years old for people to start trusting Tyrann again. But the truth is, I'm doing the right things and just looking forward to being a football player.
The young star has already dealt with plenty of trouble in his life, so watching him realize his mistakes now and using what he has learned to grow into a more mature adult is what teams will want to see before drafting the talented defensive back.
Mathieu’s words so far have screamed maturity.
There will still be intense scrutiny over the choices that Mathieu previously mad,e which led to the trouble that he got into during his stay at LSU, but the defensive back has already come clean to ESPN about the situation he was in and how he remedied it:
Basically, I just had to take myself out of that situation that I was involved in and get away from all those kinds of people and just really starting hanging myself around positive people, people who are actually doing what I want to do in my life. And that's being a professional football player. I think everything's going very well right now. I feel real good about myself. I just try to keep a smile on.
While there are obvious risks associated with drafting a troubled college standout like Mathieu, the raw talent that he possesses on the field has NFL teams salivating to get him on their rosters.
Add in the impact that troubled cornerback Janoris Jenkins made this year with the St. Louis Rams, and the precedent has been set for a team to snag Mathieu in the second round and cash in with a defensive starter.
As long as he keeps his head in the game and stays out of trouble, Mathieu has the talent to be an All-Pro worthy defensive back at the next level.