The Honey Badger is changing his course.
ESPN reports that embattled former LSU defensive star Tyrann Mathieu has announced his intentions to enter the 2013 NFL Draft.
“It is time for me to move forward,” Mathieu said regarding to his decision to leave LSU. Mathieu has been suspended this season due to failed drug tests.
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He was dismissed from the team in August and entered into a rehabilitation program run by former NBA player John Lucas. In October, Mathieu was arrested for marijuana possession. To make matters worse, Mathieu's NCAA eligibility was brought into question when Sports Illustrated exposed that his likeness had appeared in an advertisement for a party.
Instead of transferring to a lower-division school to play this season, Mathieu re-enrolled at LSU, but not to play football. He was apologetic and thankful for the opportunities the school gave him.
“I am sorry that I was not able to complete my journey at LSU, but I will always support LSU in any way I can,” Mathieu said in a statement. “To my teammates, you are my brothers. You have kept me going. I will do my best to make you all proud of me.”
Already, NFL experts are debating the Honey Badger's draft impact. In college, he was known as a big-time defensive playmaker, snatching 11 interceptions last year and making 76 tackles on his way to winning the Bednarik Award for the NCAA's top defensive player and becoming a Heisman Trophy finalist. Mathieu finished fifth in Heisman voting last season, the third-best finish for a defensive player in the last 20 years.
How will Mathieu's relatively small stature (5'9, 175 pounds) translate in the NFL? Teams wonder how effective he can be guarding man-sized NFL receivers, though franchises are understandably giddy about his versatility and big play ability. Surely, a team will take a risk on Mathieu, but it most likely won't be until the second day of the draft. From now until the draft, Mathieu is out to prove he can be a well-behaved NFL playmaker.