As the 2013 Senior Bowl practices opened on Monday, there was a player on the sideline, just hoping to get noticed - and potentially drafted - by any NFL team. He was not at the practice to work out, but there to make teams know, he was ready to put his past mistakes behind him, and he would be an asset to a team. Working the sidelines, and meeting with teams, was former LSU Tigers defensive back, and former Heisman finalist, Tyrann Mathieu.
"Tyrann has been training in Florida and with Patrick Peterson Jr. for two weeks in Arizona and he is back here now to meet with the coaches before the combine," said Mathieu's agent, Pat Lawlor of Galaxy Sports Advisor. "This is an informal area and the coaches are much more relaxed and he can see and talk to them."
Mathieu was kicked off of LSU's football team for violating team rules. Various media reports stated that Mathieu, also known as the "Honey Badger," failed repeated drug tests. Mathieu briefly entered a drug rehabilitation center in August of last year, but then left the program to re-enroll into LSU. He was arrested for possession of marijuana in October.
"I think people will be skeptical of me and if I've changed," the Honey Badger told the media on Monday. "I said in an interview last week that I'm not looking for people to trust me. Trust takes time, especially when you've done a lot of things for people not to trust you. It may take two years, it may take five years, or it may take until I'm 30 years old for people to trust Tyrann again. The truth is that I'm doing the right things and I'm really looking forward to being back on the football field."
Mathieu, who is hoping to receive an invitation to the NFL Scouting Combine February 20-26, has spent the first two days of the Senior Bowl sitting down with team officials, taking the first step in rebuilding that trust. According to the Palm Beach Post's Ben Volin, the Miami Dolphins meet with Mathieu Monday night:
Source says Tyrann Mathieu met with the entire #Dolphins staff last night for an interview. Honey Badger has spent time w/ 15 teams already— Ben Volin (@BenVolinPBP) January 22, 2013
Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland was asked about Mathieu yesterday during his annual Senior Bowl press availability. "You've just got to gather it all in and, at the end of the day, you're going to ask yourself, ‘Is he what you want on your football team or is he not what you want on your football team?' That's going to be a collective decision between really Joe and I and our staff. You have to keep an open mind. You're going to gather the information. You're going to talk to the young man and you're going to find out there's two different sides of the story."
Lawlor continued to talk up his client. "Tyrann is a very interesting guy in the draft," he stated. "Everyone is questioning where he will go because of the special athlete he is. Me personally, I think he is absolutely first-round quality because it's a very weak draft this year. Nothing against all the guys in the draft, because they are all quality good football players, but with the charisma and the type of player he is, there aren't many out there like Tryann.
"There will be a lot of speculation about what he will run but he is really a special football player and he will do some special things at the combine. The team that takes him, 10 years from now will be happy as hell they did because he will do some special things out on that field just like he did in college," Lawlor added.
Where Mathieu actually lands will be an interesting wrinkle in this year's draft process. Can he score the NFL Combine invite? Will some team take a chance on him early in the draft, or at all? Has being out of football for a year eroded any of the Honey Badger's skills?
Would you take the chance on Mathieu? Does it remind you too much of the difficulty the Dolphins had with running back Ricky Williams?