Every season there are student-athletes who are either suspended or kicked off their football team only to transfer to a lower division school to play out the season before trying their hand at the NFL. You hardly ever hear of someone staying at the school that penalized them.
Enter LSU’s Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu. Tyrann dominated the last season of college football last season as the Tiger’s all-everything defensive back. Fellow Southeastern Conference teams hated seeing #7 on the field because it meant trouble. Tyrann scored four touchdowns ( 2 punt returns, 2 fumble returns), garnered All-American honors, and became the first defensive back since Charles Woodson in 1997 to be a Heisman Trophy finalist.
It’s even more incredible when you consider Tyrann is not your prototypical cornerback. Smaller than a majority of defensive backs (5’9, 175lbs) and even smaller than the receivers that he faces, Tyrann embodied what it means when one says “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.” Tyrann has a helluva big heart and fight in his soul.
But like each of us, Tyrann has his demons. Off-the-field battles with drugs have threatened to derail a promising football career. After being suspended one game in 2011 for failing LSU’s drug policy, Tyrann was suspended for the entire 2012 season by head coach Les Miles for “violation of team rules” and rumored failed drug tests.
But instead of transferring to nearby Football Championship Series (formerly Division I-AA) McNeese State, Tyrann chose to face the music and stay at LSU. Tyrann enrolled in a Houston drug rehabilitation facility in August and then returned to Baton Rouge in early September for the start of classes.
It’s unknown whether Tyrann will be allowed to return to the LSU Tigers in 2013 or not, but the young man showed signs of great character in choosing to face the consequences of his actions rather than run. For now, all he can do is focus on his studies and compete every day for a life of sobriety.
It’s very obvious that the Honey Badger does care about his future and is committed to making the most of it from this point forward.