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Thursday, August 23, 2012
Updated: August 24, 10:57 AM ET
Tyrann Mathieu won't play this year

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Tyrann Mathieu will not play football this season and continues to focus on working on himself, his adoptive father Tyrone told ESPN's Joe Schad on Thursday.

Tyrone Mathieu said last week that the 20-year-old cornerback and punt returner known as the "Honey Badger" has been at the Right Step recovery center and is being counseled by former NBA player John Lucas. Lucas battled substance abuse during his pro career and now mentors others who have dependency issues.

Tyrann Mathieu
Tyrann Mathieu won the Bednarik Award as national defensive player of the year last season.

"Tyrann is focused on addressing his issues with Mr. Lucas," Tyrone told Schad. "(Lucas') story speaks for itself. He can help Tyrann and he can help our family."

Tyrone Mathieu said last week that Tyrann and the family need "time to heal" and that football is not a priority.

"Tyrann is working on discipline, maturity and character," Mathieu said. "He's making life adjustments."

LSU said last week about 20 college football programs had asked the school for permission to speak with All-America cornerback and punt returner, who was kicked off the team earlier this month for what a source told ESPN was a violation of the school's substance abuse policy.

Mathieu could 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 he will become eligible for the NFL draft by then.

Mathieu had visited McNeese State, and Nicholls State had announced that LSU gave it permission to speak with him. Both schools play in the Southland Conference, one of the top leagues at the FCS level.

Mathieu earned the nickname Honey Badger for his tenacious style, small stature (5-foot-9, 175 pounds) and blond streak of hair, rising 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.

Information from ESPN's Joe Schad and The Associated Press was used in this report.