INDIANAPOLIS -- Former LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu was an uninvited guest at the 2013 Senior Bowl, but he showed up anyway in an attempt to repair the damage he did to his own reputation in college. Kicked off the Tigers' defense before the 2012 season started for violating the team's substance abuse policy several times, Mathieu came to the scouting combine officially invited, but still answering all the same questions about how well he'll be able transition to the NFL as a person and as a player.
"I hold myself accountable for everything I've done," he said on Sunday. "This past year has been tough, but at the end of the day, I want them to know I'm a football player. I'm not totally asking them to trust me right now. But what I am asking is for them to give me the opportunity to play the game again. I've had a lot of time to reflect on it, especially without football. It's really given me a different outlook on life."
Mathieu, who said that he last used an illegal substance last Oct. 26, was awakened Sunday morning at 4:00 a.m. for his combine drug test, and recalled later that day just how far he'd fallen after he was unable to control his demons.
"I thought [the] bottom was when I got kicked out of school," Mathieu said. "When I got arrested in October [for marijuana possession], that was a different bottom. So, I decided to go to rehab. I just wasn't going to it for publicity or because my school told me to go. I actually wanted to get my problem corrected."
He worked with former NBA player and coach John Lucas, who had won his own battles with addiction, and then worked with current NFL stars and LSU alums Corey Webster and Patrick Peterson to get himself back on track.
Now, it's about convincing the NFL that he won't backslide. Mathieu is ready to tell his entire tale, and let teams know one thing: He's seen his future without football, and he doesn't like it.
"My best friend right now is honesty," Mathieu said. "I want to be as open as possible because I'm trying to rebuild my trust. I know what it's like not to have football. I know what it's like to not be the center of attention. I know what it's like to be humiliated. To go back down that road? Not a chance in the world."
As a pure player, Mathieu is a smaller defensive back in a world in which larger cornerbacks are more valued. At 5-foot-9 and 186 pounds, he projects best as a nickel back, and a probable middle-round pick. The 2011 Heisman finalist estimated that his drug issues cost him millions, and he's most likely correct about that.
Mathieu will run all the drills this upcoming week, and he wants to prove that from a football sense, he hasn't lost anything as he's put things together from a personal standpoint.
"I just want to show everybody that I'm a true athlete. I think I'm going to run a pretty good 40, hopefully a 4.4 that's what I've been clocking recently. Really I just want to come out here and compete. I'm just happy to be back around football guys and the top guys in this class."
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