Tyrann Mathieu is easily one of the most storied players of the 2012 college football season. And, the guy didn’t play a single game! Mathieu has indeed had an eventful year. 2011 was a stellar year for the young man. He was named the SEC Championship MVP, invited to New York as a Heisman finalist, awarded the Chuck Bednarik Award (given to the nation’s best defensive player), and made an appearance in the BCS National Championship game. Just months after all this, the “Honey Badger” found himself dismissed from the team with serious doubts concerning his future in football. Now, with the 2012 season coming to an end and the next NFL draft quickly approaching, we will take a more in-depth look at Mathieu’s situation.
On November 29, Tyrann announced his intentions to enter the 2013 NFL draft. And, the eyebrows of the country raised in unison. This time last year this young man was projected by many to be drafted about mid-way through the first round. His impressive list of accomplishments from the 2011 season and his all-or-nothing attitude towards playing the game had put him close to the top of the prospects. And, the list of accomplishments truly was impressive. Mathieu was named Defensive MVP of the 2011 Cotton Bowl Classic after recording seven tackles, one tackle for loss, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, one interception, one sack, and one pass breakup. This all-star outing was just the beginning of an outstanding year for Mathieu.
He went on to earn Consensus All American, First-team All-SEC, and SEC Defensive Player of the Year awards along with the awards I’ve already mentioned. Mathieu fueled his team to an undefeated regular season and an SEC Championship. He showcased his plethora of skills, recording 71 total tackles, 5 forced fumbles (including 2 recovered for touchdowns), and 2 interceptions. He was also useful for the Tigers on special teams, racking up 420 punt return yards and 2 touchdowns on returns. Tyrann’s aggressive style of play, knack for making big plays, and blonde mohawk led to his teammates labeling him the “Honey Badger.” The nickname was quickly adored by fans and eventually accepted by Tyrann after he saw some YouTube videos about the ferocious honey badger.
Unfortunately for Tyrann, the good times did not last as long as he would have liked. On August 10, 2012, LSU head coach Les Miles announced that Mathieu had been dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules. It was later reported that this dismissal branched from repeated drug test failures. Mathieu’s fast track to fame was suddenly derailed. Many expected him to transfer to smaller school to help boost his stats. Tyrann instead stayed at LSU, and entered rehab for his drug problems. He withdrew early from the program, though, and was arrested in October for possession of marijuana. Now, barely a month after all that, we find Mathieu making plans to enter the NFL draft.
So what are we to think of all this? Does Tyrann Mathieu deserve a shot at the NFL? Or are his chances up? Does any team even want him? Or is he still a valuable prospect? There are plenty of people who would love to watch the Honey Badger crash and burn. It would absolutely make their dreams come true to see his demise. I, however, just can’t help but root for this young man. I understand why fans have issues with Mathieu, but I have a couple reasons why I would like to see him do well in the NFL:
1. Tyrann Mathieu broke the law. He made mistakes. He was arrested and embarrassed and lost a lot of ground because of his actions. But he would be far from the first player to get caught breaking the rules and still get paid millions in the NFL. I mean if we let Michael Vick keep playing (as we should… he did his time) why shouldn’t Mathieu play? Tyrann is paying for his mistakes now and will miss out on a whole lot of money in the future because of everything that has happened. When he announced he was entering the draft, Mathieu said, “it is time for me to move forward.” He also stated he would do his best to make his former teammates and coaches proud of him. Tyrann at least sounds like he’s ready to leave his mistakes in the rear-view. If he has what it takes to move on, then let him move on!
2. The guy is a baller. He may not be the most skilled player to step onto the gridiron, but there are so many intangibles he brings to the game. LSU definitely showed how much they missed his leadership this season. Tyrann had a way of exciting the guys he was playing with and making them want to play as hard as he does. His specialty was making those big plays that would shift momentum in the blink of an eye. And, what is most impressive about him is that he’s only 5’9″. Weighing in at 180 lbs, Tyrann is a very small cornerback, but he plays SO much bigger than his frame. It’s hard to tell whether or not he would be as successful in the NFL (where everyone is a star), but he was definitely fun to watch last year.
3. He’s controversial. The fact that people are still talking about him just shows how much attention this guy can draw. He would have the ability to flair up NFL games and possibly draw more attention to certain games. He’s a divisive player. You love him or you hate him. So you’re going to look for him to do good, or you’re going to look for him to fail. Either way, it brings viewers, excitement, and profit.
4. In order for Mathieu to be successful in the NFL, he is going to have to solve his personal problems. I think motivating himself to play football may give him the strength to fix himself. I wouldn’t wish him to keep struggling with the same old issues.
5. The nickname “Honey Badger” is awesome. If he fades out in the next few years, so will the name. :(
Look for Tyrann to be a third or fourth round pick in the next NFL draft. And, I sure hope he can live up to his previous expectations. But, whether you love him or hate him, I think we can all agree it would be good for him to continue improving himself. The famous saying was “Honey Badger don’t care!” I’m saying Honey Badger really needs to take care if he plans on living up to what some expect of him.
Let us know what you think of the Honey Badger!