College football will have to make do without the “Honey Badger” this fall. Former LSU All-American Tyrann Mathieu will not play football this year as he continues to get a handle on the personal demons that have plagued him. Tyrone Mathieu told ESPN on Thursday that his 20-year-old son has enrolled at the Right Step recovery center in Houston, where he is being counseled by former NBA player John Lucas. Lucas battled substance abuse problems during his own professional career and now mentors others who have dependency issues.
“Tyrann is focused on addressing his issues with Mr. Lucas,” Tyrone Mathieu told ESPN. “(Lucas’) story speaks for itself. He can help Tyrann and he can help our family.”
Tyrone Mathieu said last week that Tyrann and his entire family needed “time to heal” and that football was not a priority.
“Tyrann is working on discipline, maturity and character,” his father said. “He’s making life adjustments.”
Roughly 20 schools had already contacted LSU as of last week in the hopes of speaking with the former Tigers cornerback and punt returner. Tigers head coach Les Miles kicked Mathieu off the LSU team last month following a reported violation of the school’s substance abuse policy. Mathieu could have played this season had he joined a Football Championship Series – lower Division I – team. He would have had to sit out a year had he chosen to transfer to another major college program. Mathieu will be eligible for the NFL Draft in 2013.
Mathieu had considered moving down a classification to play this fall and recently visited McNeese State. The 5-foot-9, 175-pounder enjoyed a breakout sophomore campaign last fall, earning the nickname of the “Honey Badger” for his tenacious style, small stature and streak of blond hair.
He quickly became one of college football’s biggest stars in 2011, winning the Bednarik Award that goes to the National Defensive Player of the Year. He scored four touchdowns (two on punt returns, two on fumble returns), intercepted two passes, caused six fumbles and recovered four.