LSU football: 10 best players of the Les Miles Era

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Jan 28, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu is interviewed on radio row before Super Bowl XLIX at the Phoenix Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Tyrann Mathieu

“I think I’ve seen guys make plays like this every year, its just Tyrann Mathieu seems to make them every game himself.”

This quote by Les Miles from a 2011 interview with ESPN’s College GameDay perfectly sums up what Mathieu brought to the table for the LSU football team.

Whenever he was on the football field, everybody in the stadium knew that a big play was just one snap away. Forcing a fumble and recovering it for a touchdown to start a 40-27 rout of No. 3 Oregon. Leaping into the air and swatting the football away from the Kentucky quarterback, scooping it up and taking it to the house. And putting his incredible playmaking ability on display with a pair of huge touchdown returns against Arkansas and Georgia late in the season.

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It goes without saying that Mathieu was the star of the 2011 SEC Champion LSU Tigers. Unfortunately, his tenure at LSU was short-lived. It all came crashing down on August 10, 2012, when he was dismissed from the program following multiple failed drug tests.

While his career with the Tigers was brief and did not end on a good note, his value to his team was unquestioned.

Some players would have badmouthed the team following their dismissal, but not Mathieu. He took full responsibility and thanked his coaches for giving him every opportunity possible. Since being drafted by the Arizona Cardinals, he has emerged as a fan favorite and one of the biggest steals of the 2013 NFL Draft.

Instead of dwelling on the bad, let’s focus on the incredible things that Mathieu accomplished with the Bayou Bengals; Bednarik Award winner, Heisman Trophy finalist, first team All-American and the list goes on and on.

Next: LSU football: 5 players poised for a breakout season in 2015

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