Tyrann Mathieu, nicknamed the “Honey Badger” for his ability on the football field, and three former LSU football players were arrested Thursday afternoon after police found drug-related materials in Mathieu's apartment, including 10 bags of high-grade marijuana. The other former Tigers were Jordan Jefferson, Karnell Hatcher and Derrick Bryant.
According to a Baton Rouge Police Department release, police were dispatched to an apartment complex after complaints that a man, later identified as Jefferson, forced his way through a security gate and entered Mathieu's apartment. Once the police arrived at the residence, they reported smelling a “strong odor of marijuana” and searched the apartment after they said Mathieu gave them consent. Along with the four men, the police reported finding a marijuana grinder, digital scale and 10 bags of marijuana.
Mathieu and Jefferson were charged with Simple Possession of Marijuana. Hatcher was charged with 2nd Offense Simple Possession of Marijuana and Bryant with Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana. All four were booked at the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison.
Mathieu was dismissed from the LSU football program this past August after multiple failed drug tests and checked into a drug and alcohol recovery center in Houston. He was meeting daily with former NBA player and head coach John Lucas, who battled drug addiction in his past. As Rob Rang wrote in August, scouts were encouraged by Mathieu's "mature" decision to enter rehab in an attempt to get clean and turn his life around. According to later reports, Mathieu was out of rehab and preparing to re-enroll at LSU next year.
Jefferson, Hatcher and Bryant had exhausted their collegiate eligibility at LSU, but none were NFL draft picks and aren't currently on NFL rosters.
A talented football player on the field, Mathieu was projected as a possible first round draft pick after a Heisman-worthy sophomore season in 2011. He had a knack for the big play over his first two seasons with the Tigers, recording 20 passes defended, 11 forced fumbles and four interceptions. However, the off-field issues caused some concern, especially after he was booted from the program a few weeks before the 2012 season opener. Mathieu was also in the news recently after he was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated and accused of promoting parties at a local night club through videos and fliers, potential NCAA violations.
The NFL has numerous examples of players who were red-flagged during the draft process for their off-field concerns, but overcame character issues to become contributors at the next level. One o the latest is St. Louis Rams CB Janoris Jenkins, who was arguably the best defensive back in April's NFL Draft, but slipped to the second round because of several drug-related incidents. Jenkins has been one of the NFL's top rookies this season with seven passes defended and an interception thus far.
While no two situations are the same, Mathieu's appears much more serious than Jenkins' (or most others) and his prospects for the next level are in serious jeopardy. It is still too early to speculate whether or not Mathieu will be a part of the 2013 NFL Draft class, but if he decides to give up his two remaining years of collegiate eligibility, he will be one of the most scrutinized and polarizing prospects in next year's class.
Stay tuned, because if the past few months are any indication, this story is far from over.