NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
Les Miles delivered the unthinkable news early this afternoon, that Heisman finalist and one of the best players in college football Tyrann Mathieu has been kicked off the LSU football team. While the exact cause of the departure wasn’t specified it’s rumored that Mathieu failed his third drug test.
What does this mean for Mathieu’s draft stock and what does it mean for LSU?
The news is shocking. It’s unexpected. The Honey Badger is no longer a part of the LSU Football Program. It’s a big blow to both Tyrann Mathieu and the LSU.
How does this effect LSU?
Last season Mathieu made an impact in nearly ever facet of the game for the LSU Tigers. On defense the “Honey Badger” tallied 67.5 tackles, 2 INTs, 9 PBU, 6 FF, 1 sack and 2 defensive touchdowns. Mathieu was also one of the best punt returners in the country accounting for another 2 touchdowns, both of electrifying fashion. Mathieu seemed to play his best in big games and important situations. Time after time Mathieu could be counted on to impact the outcome of the game. There is no way LSU can replace Tyrann Mathieu, but they can overcome his loss.
LSU will now turn to the cornerback tandem of Tharold Simon, who is a first round talent in his own right and RFr. Jalen Collins who Morris Claiborne called “the most athletic player on the team” last season. LSU also has one of the top safety combos in America in Eric Reid (another first round talent) and Craig Loston. Their secondary will still be good, but will miss the play-making ability of Mathieu. The Tigers defense still has the best front seven in college football featuring multiple first round picks, including Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery. Their pass rush figures to be even better than last season and it will no doubt take some of the pressure off the secondary.
During the press conference Head Coach Les Miles stated that talented Soph. WR Odell Beckham Jr. will replace Mathieu as the punt returner. While Beckham Jr. isn’t Mathieu he was one of the most talented freshman in the country last season and forced his way into the LSU lineup. When your a team like LSU you don’t rebuild you just reload and that’s what they will have to do in thid situation. While the timing of the dismissal is shocking, the Tiger’s still have an entire pre-season to get over the situation and find a way to move forward. They remain the favorite to win the SEC in my opinion, just as they would have with Tyrann Mathieu.
How does this effect Mathieu?
When the news first broke that Tyrann Mathieu had been kicked off the LSU football team one name immediately came to mind; Janoris Jenkins. Jenkins who was an All-American CB at Florida before being kicked off the team for failed drug tests. Jenkins eventually transferred to I-AA North Alabama played one year there and ended up getting drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the 2nd round of the 2012 NFL Draft. One the field Jenkins was an undisputed top ten talent, but his off the field activities cost him millions of dollars. Tyrann Mathieu just became this year’s Janoris Jenkins.
Assuming Mathieu is eligible to transfer to an NCAA school (CBS.com writer Bruce Feldman said earlier that if Mathieu failed his third drug test he would be ineligible to transfer to an NCAA school. That would leave Mathieu with HBCU, NAIA and Junior College schools as his options) he will have to transfer to a division 1-AA or Division II school if he wants to play this year. Mathieu won’t be as visible this season, which is probably a good thing, but he will still be an NFL prospect. (Editor’s note – the transfer situation is still fluid and more clarification will be coming soon)
Where Mathieu hurt himself the most was in the pocketbook. I was one of the biggest proponents of saying that Mathieu was worthy of a first round selection–on the field. After being dismissed from a National Championship contending team and ruining his shot at being just the second defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy I now think that’s highly unlikely. Mathieu will now be more scrutinized than any other NFL prospect in 2013. The red flag has been risen and the questions will have to be asked.
While failing drug test’s for marijuana isn’t the worst thing a prospect can do, it will hurt their draft stock. Janoris Jenkins fell 20-25 spots further than he should of. New England Patriot’s TE Aaron Hernandez probably would have been a 2nd round pick if it weren’t for multiple failed drug tests at Florida. He went in the 4th round. Mathieu will have to stay out of trouble from now until April and not fail anymore drug tests. If he can do that he will be drafted before the end of the 2nd round, in my opinion. His playmaking ability and football instincts are so good that a team will take the chance on him.
Mathieu has cost himself some money, a chance at the Heisman trophy, a National Championship and plenty of embarassment. But, it’s not the end of the road when it comes to the NFL. Mathieu has to change his lifestyle and prove to NFL evlauators that football is importnat to him. No one can do that except Mathieu and only time will tell what his future holds.