After Les Miles kicked Mathieu off the football team after repeatedly failing drug tests prior to the start of the 2012 season it was thought that he would transfer to a lower-level school to play football this season and then go to the NFL, but Mathieu decided to stay at LSU and pay his way through school this season.
I actually commend Mathieu for having the strength to make this decision, because it must be agonizing to be a celebrity on a campus where everyone knows about your biggest failures in life and feeling thousands of disappointed eyes affixed on you while you walk into a lecture hall, the cafeteria or through the quad.
Mathieu hit rock bottom when he was arrested in October following a short stint in rehab, when marijuana was found in his apartment, and he knows he has used all of his second chances so in order to make it in the NFL he has to regain the trust of NFL scouts, coaches, and most importantly the front office personnel who ultimately will pull the trigger on drafting him.
He is not the first high-profile college star to experience troubles with the law or drugs, and he won’t be the last, but the majority of those players didn’t have the NFL close its doors to them–especially ones as talented and skilled as Mathieu.
Prior to his dismissal from the team the 2011 Heisman finalist had doubters whether the 5-9 cornerback was big enough and fast enough to match up with the ever-increasing size of NFL receivers. Adding the character concerns and a year away from football and still being 5-9 there will be even more skeptics whether the Honey Badger will have success in the NFL.
I’m a believer in Mathieu and he is at the Senior Bowl this week hoping to meet with NFL teams and show them he has changed and he is a much more mature and disciplined person first and foremost. He will get an opportunity later at the combine to show his speed and skills and interview with teams, but the sticking point between being a day two pick and a late-round pick is his ability to convince teams he learned from this experience he put himself in and show how he has learned from it and won’t succumb to that lifestyle ever again.
He has the instincts and big-play ability on both defense and special teams to be a valuable contributor for a long time in the NFL and has been training with former college teammate, Patrick Peterson, but one more failed drug test and Mathieu will never be the Honey Badger ever again.
Sadly, he will be another young man to waste his enormous potential.
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