LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu has been one of the most electric playmakers in all of college football over the past two years. The defensive back has often been regarded as a player without a clear cut position in the NFL.
However, just weeks before the start of his junior season, the would-be Heisman
candidate is now a player without a team.
Mathieu first faced significant troubles at LSU in October 2011 when he and a handful of other Tigers tested positive for synthetic marijuana. He was suspended for one game due to that suspension.
Fast forward to 2012, and according to many reports, including KTBS-TV, Mathieu failed a third drug test, the latest of which came during this past week.
Due to privacy rules, LSU can’t officially confirm why Mathieu was dismissed from the team. Head coach Les Miles put it simply: “We did what we could do, but Tyrann Mathieu is not longer on our team”. He went on to say that his dismissal was due to a violation of team rules. Miles’ comments did seem to indicate that this was due to Mathieu’s drug issues, saying that “Mathieu is a quality guy who had a behavior issue”.
Joe Schad reported that people close to Mathieu have been looking for a new place for the playmaker to play football at in 2012. Assuming he wants to play in 2012, he’ll have to transfer to a FCS school.
A likely destination for Mathieu would seem to be North Alabama. The program has often been the first choice for SEC players that find themselves looking to transfer. Mathieu would be following in the footsteps of players like Janoris Jenkins, who dealt with drug issues at Florida before transferring to UNA. Jenkins was able to bring his draft stock up somewhat during his time at UNA, but he still wasn’t drafted where his talent alone would have dictated.
Mathieu could also elect to stay close to home and head to either Louisiana-Lafayette or Louisiana-Monroe.
However, if Mathieu truly failed a third drug test, he may have to look elsewhere if he wants to play in 2012. According to Bruce Feldman, a third failed test would leave him ineligible to play anywhere in the NCAA. He’d have to play in the NAIA or at an HBCU, making schools like Southern University A&M (Lousiana), The University of the Cumberlands (Kentucky), Georgetown (Kentucky), or Cumberland (Tennessee) all options for him. He could also elect to sit out 2012 and enter the supplemental draft in 2013.
Regardless of where (or if) Mathieu plays college football in 2012, his future in the NFL takes a massive hit with this news. He already was a controverial prospect - his size and inconsitency covering receivers made him far from a lock in the NFL. Now that he has serious questions regarding his off the field behavior, he's going to have to work extremely hard at restoring his reputation before NFL teams even consider making a serious investment in him.
For LSU, it’s tough to find a player they could least afford to lose less than the Honey Badger. His dynamic play making on defense and special teams will be nearly impossible to replace, at least in 2012. In addition to that, LSU has now lost 5 of their 6 top defensive backs over the last two season, an obstacle that will be very difficult for the defense to overcome. Only Tharold Simon has any significant experience in LSU’s defensive backfield. Redshirt freshman Jalen Collins will replace Mathieu on defense, but it remains to be seen if the Tigers can find anyone to truly replace his impact on special teams.