Honey Badger ready to take Manhattan

Tigers star cornerback/punt returner Tyrann Mathieu gets a coveted seat at the Heisman Trophy table, becoming the first LSU player invited to the ceremony since Charles Alexander in 1977 and the first defensive player invited since Michigan star Charles Woodson in 1997.

From LSU media relations

For the first time since 1977, LSU football will have a representative in New York City for the Heisman Memorial Trophy presentation as sophomore cornerback/return specialist Tyrann Mathieu has been named one of five finalists for college football's ultimate award.

The 77th-annual Heisman Memorial Trophy will be presented live at 7 p.m. Saturday on ESPN from the Best Buy Theatre in Times Square.

Other finalists include Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, Alabama running back Trent Richardson, Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III and Wisconsin running back Montee Ball.

"This is a dream come true and I am humbled by this honor to go to New York to represent LSU," Mathieu said. "It shows that hard work and persistence pays off. I am thankful for this opportunity and I want to thank my coaches and teammates for pushing me each and every day. Coach Miles, Coach (John) Chavis and Coach (Ron) Cooper are always pushing us to make us better. Without them and my teammates, this opportunity is not possible."

Mathieu, a sophomore from New Orleans, is the first defensive back invited to the Heisman ceremony since Charles Woodson of Michigan captured the honor in 1997. He's also the first LSU football player to attend the ceremony since Charles Alexander did so as a junior in 1977, the year Earl Campbell won it.

"Tyrann is a special player and person," LSU coach Les Miles said. "We are honored to have him represent our football team in New York for the Heisman Trophy presentation. He is a player that gives everything for his teammates and coaches. He's a leader on the field and he is constantly making plays. We are excited that he and his family have this opportunity."

Mathieu has been one of the most dynamic players in college football this season on both defense and special teams. He leads the top-ranked Tigers into the BCS National Championship Game in a rematch against No. 2 Alabama on Jan. 9 in New Orleans.

He leads the Tigers in tackles (70), forced fumbles (six) and fumble recoveries (five). Just 25 games into his career, Mathieu has already shattered the LSU record and tied the SEC record with 12 forced fumbles. His six forced fumbles this season matched his own single-season record set last year.

In 25 career games, Mathieu has at least a forced fumble/recovery or an interception in 11 of those contests. In 15 games against Top 25 teams, Mathieu has produced a forced fumble/recovery or an interception in nine of those contests. In addition, he's recorded 6½ tackles for loss, 1½ sacks, two interceptions and seven pass breakups this season.

His special teams play has ignited the Tigers throughout the year, none bigger than his two punt returns for touchdowns in the past two weeks. Mathieu became the first LSU player since Todd Kinchen in 1991 to return punts for touchdowns in consecutive games with a 92-yarder against Arkansas and a 62-yarder that swung the momentum of the SEC Championship Game.

He earned SEC Championship Game MVP honors for his efforts, becoming the first defensive player to do so since 1994.

Mathieu, the Associated Press SEC Defensive Player of the Year, is also a finalist for the Bednarik Award, presented to college football's most outstanding defensive player. The recipient of that award will be announced at 8 p.m. Thursday from the ESPN College Football Awards in Orlando.

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