LSU: About 20 schools inquired about Mathieu

NEW ORLEANS — About 20 college football programs have asked LSU for permission to speak with All-America cornerback and punt returner Tyrann Mathieu.

Herb Vincent, the university’s vice chancellor of communications, provided the figure Wednesday, but added that LSU only considers granting requests to schools Mathieu has approved.

“This is consistent with the way we handle transfer requests for other LSU student-athletes,” Vincent said.

Vincent says he cannot release which schools have been in touch with LSU and which have been approved other than McNeese State, which has already announced that Mathieu visited its campus in Lake Charles, La.

Nicholls State officials said Wednesday that they had received permission from LSU’s compliance department to speak with Mathieu, but have not yet met with the 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist.

Mathieu was kicked off the LSU football team last Friday, reportedly for the latest of several failed drug tests. He has not yet announced his plans for this season.

Officials at McNeese State, where classes began Wednesday, say there remains some leeway for Mathieu to enroll within the next few days.

Classes do not begin at Nicholls State until Aug. 22.

As for the possibility of Mathieu returning to play for LSU in 2013, Vincent reiterated recent comments that the university “Will not speculate on Tyrann’s future with the LSU football program at this time.”

“We can only state that he is eligible to continue his academic career at LSU and that he will not be a member of the LSU football team for the 2012 season,” Vincent said. “Any other comments on his future at LSU will be made at the appropriate time if necessary.”

Mathieu can only play this season if he joins a program at the FCS level, the second tier of Division I, or a team in a lower division. If he wants to play another season at the Division I FBS level, he would have to wait until 2013, but will have become eligible for the NFL draft by then.

Both McNeese State and Nicholls State play in the Southland Conference, one of the top leagues at the FCS level.

Nicholls State is in Thibodaux, La., about an hour’s drive southwest of Mathieu’s native New Orleans. McNeese State is more than 200 miles west on Interstate 10.

The 20-year-old Mathieu — nicknamed Honey Badger for his tenacious style, small stature (5-foor-9, 175 pounds) and blonde streak of hair — rose from obscurity to become one of college football’s biggest stars in 2011, his sophomore season.

Mathieu won the Bednarik Award as national defensive player of the year last season. He scored four touchdowns — two on punt returns and two on fumble returns — intercepted two passes, caused six fumbles and recovered four.

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