Updated: May 23
We took you through:
10. COREY RAYMOND, the Mr. Miyagi of DBU
8. JAMAL ADAMS is
7. RYAN CLARK The Soul of DBU
5. CRAIG STELTZ The McConaughey DeathStar
4. PATRICK PETERSON The Ringleader of DBU
3. COREY WEBSTER The Godfather of DBU
1 NATIONAL TITLE GAME APP.
1 SEC TITLE
1 SUPER BOWL WIN
CO-SEC DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
CHUCK BEDNARIK AWARD
26 games (Only 14 starts)
133 TOTAL TACKLES
FR: 8 (3rd in NCAA history)
FF: 11 (SEC record, 7th in NCAA history)
(5 recoveries from his own forced fumbles, 4 in 2011 alone)
(5 games of multiple forced fumbles, inc. his first ever appearance vs UNC)
(In 2 apps. vs West Virginia, he had 2 FR, 1FF, 2 INTs & created 2 LSU TDs)
14 TURNOVERS CREATED TOTAL
PASS DEFLECTED / DEFENDED: 16
DEFENSIVE SCORES: 2 FR scores
(also had an INT taken to 1 yard line vs West V 2011, FR taken to WestV 3 yard line in 2010)
SPECIAL TEAMS SCORES: 2
RETURN YARDS: 471 (all in 2011/12, from 21 returns, averaging 15.6 per return)
When you think DBU....there's only one name which comes to mind....The Honeybadger, Tyrann Mathieu...Not only was he the brains of DBU's construction, he'll forever remain the greatest defender to ever wear purple and gold.
Hailing from New Orleans, where poverty, parental abandonment and a father in prion for murder nearly derailed Tyrann's future, Mathieu always had the deck stacked against him. Luckily, his grandmother sent him to live with his Uncle Tyrone and Aunt Sheila, the two becoming his adoptive parents and shaping Tyrann's future greatness from a young, vulnerable age.
Such was the inescapable, impossible economic odds stacked against Mathieu's family (like many in the American South) #7 once said he wanted "to be a garbage man or a football player" in kindergarten, the latter thought leaving you stunned.
But he realized what every family member, friend, fan, coach or opponent always knew from the beginning: he was born to play football...more than that, he was created to dominate...
The only non-offensive player in LSU to score 4 touchdowns in a single season, the only DB on this list to receive a Heisman nomination (and Heisman votes)...and had he returned for the 2012 season, with the offensive fireworks of OBJ, Jarvis Landry and Zach Mettenberger to compliment Eric Reid and Tyrann's hungry defensive playmaking, The Honeybadger surely would've stepped in front of Jameis Winston and taken the Heisman and the national title....right? Who knows what else of Jameis' he could've stepped in front of and stole had he stayed on the team...yes we're talking a pick-six on Winston in the 2013 BCS title game vs Florida State.
The myriad of questions surrounding Mathieu's dismissal in 2012 will never be answered, our lust for closure forever left unsatisfied...
But we'll always have 2011 and 2010 to look back on and study the 4/20 Grim Reaper...
As he learned under mentor and close friend Patrick Peterson, Mathieu became adept at both corner and safety, eventually becoming an all-encompassing DB weapon: Defensive Coordinator John Chavis assigning Mathieu a free role among the greatest single LSU secondary of all time.
Chavis gave Tyrann ultimate responsibility on every play, in much the same manner Dave Aranda would later free up Grant Delpit and Jamaal Adams, refusing to confine playmakers in the secondary to their rudimentary roles.
Although listed as a corner, Mathieu would vacate the role for either Eric Reid or Tharold Simon to cover, frequently blitzing the QB feverishly, lining him up as a defensive end, an edge-rushing linebacker, or a simple fake-blitz while dropping back into position...and it was during these momentary lapses of transition when the recently-filled pants of every 2011 QB were pulled down on national television (even you McCarron).
The Honeybadger made his greatest plays while playing in an undefined role: covering 20 yards in the blink of an eye, Mathieu affected all areas of the field...some of his greatest plays will never be tallied by statistics....until now:
Because of the Tigers' crazy trajectory during 2011, LSU became the epicenter of the college football world for 9-10 months thanks to Tyrann Mathieu's otherworldly plays and potential future Heisman...due to this fact, The Honeybadger will forever be considered LSU's "Defensive Joe Burrow".
I remember where I was when Tyrann Mathieu ripped the ball from Oregon's punt returner (smashing him to the ground mercilessly): recovering from two medication caused seizures and an overwhelming paranoia and anxiety, I'd seeked refuge at the local hospital, thanks to my fiancee for her insistence.
With my father visiting me after two days of hopeless mental and physical anguish, in that moment, live on ABC...Tyrann healed me...I jumped into the air as the ball bounced for what felt like an eternity of bliss....we knew it would fall to Tyrann:
He scooped the ball off the bounce and walked into the end zone as Cowboys Stadium went bananas...however, Mathieu's wild 2011 ride had only just begun.
2011 LSU announced themselves right then and there, de-facing a Top 5 school (who played in the 2010 BCS title game only 7 months earlier) during the first week of the year...still, Oregon would only be the first victim in a true murderer's row schedule (much like LSU's 2019 jaunt).
Playing 9 ranked teams and 4 in the top 5, LSU went undefeated through the SEC bloodbath with the steel of guys like Kevin Minter, Eric Reid, Sam Montgomery and the rising Michael Brockers, but it was always the playmaking of Tyrann Mathieu where the buck stopped.
In Morgantown vs #16 West Virginia, Mathieu echoed Patrick Peterson's exploits from the year before, forcing and recovering his own fumble and picking off a pass (which he returned to the 1 yard line) during a demonstration of his instinctual cunning and never-ending menace...live on ESPN for the world to see.
Against Kentucky he scored his second touchdown of the season and forced two fumbles, recovering one of his own when he slapped the ball out of Kentucky quarterback Morgan Newton's hand and met the ball's bounce on the other side, scooping and scoring just like he did at Oregon.
Later vs #3 Arkansas, Mathieu scored a punt return for a TD, forced two fumbles, recovering one, making 8 tackles and deflecting 2 passes...pulling off one of the most unstoppably sexy defensive performances I've ever witnessed....watch that tape.
However, what he perpetrated upon Georgia in the SEC title game will forever haunt Mark Richt. Down 10-0, LSU needed a spark...we were desperate...we were looking down the barrel of a gun...or looking at a night sleeping next to Tony Blair.
Suddenly, before UGA knew what hit them, Tyrann returned a punt and juked through 3 guys, received and followed two ridiculous blocks and strode untouched into the end zone to rip the game from UGA's hands. Then, he went one better, taking another punt through the teeth of the UGA special teams unit and making 14 players miss, dancing through the remnants of their disintegrating shadows, the charred remains of their egos and football futures inhaled by the mastermind of DBU himself...all before finally faking himself out thanks to a shoestring tackle from UGA's toothlessly deranged punt coverage.
....only Tyrann Mathieu could really tackle Tyrann Mathieu in that game...or in 2011 for that matter.
We hoped this wild 2011 rollercoaster ride would never end, and if it had to...at least let it end with a championship.
Sadly, the raging odyssey of LSU's 2011 magic came to a crashing halt in a gut-wrenching defeat at our second home stadium, the New Orleans Superdome...
Within the centerpiece and beacon of Tyrann Mathieu's hometown...upon the same floor he'd slept during Hurricane Katrina 6 years before, Mathieu suffered another letdown as the greatest Tigers defense of all time were forced to battle on their own for 60+ exhaustive minutes, all due to an offense incapable of crossing the 50 yard line until late in the game.
Like a gradual decay, like watching a car crash in slow motion, at some point those courageous but gassed defenders knew the national title would be completely up to them to deliver...an absolutely unfair and insurmountable task.
After being the crutch for the LSU offense the entire season, it was time for Jordan Jefferson, running backs Spencer Ware, Alfred Blue and Michael Ford and the corps of hot shit receivers Rueben Randle, freshman OBJ, sophomore Jarvis Landry and Kadron Boone to deliver....
But Jefferson and Strudrawa's horrible offensive plan failed to bear fruit....all as sophomore Zach Mettenberger sat on the bench and 2019's offensive innovator & architect Steve Ensminger was shackled with the title of TEs' coach.
Mathieu, Reid, Claiborne, Taylor, Minter, Brockers, Montgomery, Mingo, etc deserved better from our offense...they deserved a national championship.
Our defense scored 6 touchdowns in 2011 alone....more than the last four years at LSU combined. This defense caught 16 interceptions, forced 18 fumbles & recovered 13, 55 pass deflections, 37 sacks, exactly 100 tackles for loss, while QBs threw for a paltry 0.5 TDs per game vs the 2011 Tigers secondary...Ron Brooks, our backup corner, took two INTs to the house...we had multiple players with multiple defensive scores in a single year....are you serious???
Had he played on offense (as he did in his sophomore year of high school) Mathieu would've found a way to score on Alabama in that 2011/2012 BCS National Championship Game....such was his constant, unstoppable drive...and even if the ball didn't come his way, the offense needed a spark, we needed to confuse Saban and Smart's defense in any way we can...
How many names on this list would've been as exciting on offense as they were on defense? Returning interceptions, fumbles, punts and kickoffs just like a receiver bursts for yards after catch or a running back hitting the second level...if not better.
The magnitude of what he accomplished may never be matched by a defensive player at LSU, but if anyone does come close, the first person to love and mentor that player will be Tyrann himself, just as he did for Derek Stingley Jr pre-LSU, looking out for the next young DBU master in-waiting.
TURNOVER POINTS: 14
TD POINTS: 10
TITLE POWER: 4
LSU GRADE: 9.5/10
NFL GRADE: 10/10
COMPOSITE DBU GRADE: 47.5
OUR SCORE: 50.5
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
COPYRIGHT 2020 UNINTERRUPTED WRITINGS INC. LLC
1 POINT PER TURNOVER INVOLVEMENT
1 POINT PER DEF. TD CREATED
1 POINT PER BLOCKED PUNT/KICK
1 POINT PER NEW YEAR'S 6 BOWL WIN
1 POINT PER TITLE GAME APP.
1 POINT PER SEC TITLE
2 POINTS PER DEF. TD
2 POINTS PER SPECIAL TEAMS TD
2 POINTS PER NATIONAL TITLE
2 POINTS PER SUPER BOWL
+ LSU GRADE
+ NFL GRADE
= COMPOSITE DBU SCORE
-OUR SCORE CAN OVERRULE