NEW ORLEANS (WBRC) - LSU defensive back Tyrann Mathieu enjoys his celebrity status as the "honey badger," especially when learning what a honey badger actually is.
"I think the Honey Badger nickname came from the fans back in Tiger Nation, and honey badger is such a relentless animal. He's fierce. And he definitely doesn't fear anything."
Mathieu spoke Thursday to reporters in New Orleans as the LSU Tigers prepare to play the Alabama Crimson Tide on Monday for the BCS National Championship. The Heisman trophy finalist said he tries to play every game like a honey badger.
"I just try to take that same approach to the field and just try to play smart and violent football for my team."
Mathieu knows he will need to be playing his best game Monday when LSU tries to stay undefeated and beat Alabama again. Alabama lost its only game to the Tigers in overtime, 9-6. Mathieu says Alabama is well balanced.
"I think we definitely are facing a great team in all three phases of the game," Mathieu said. "Our playmakers, the guys who lead this team, you know, definitely are going to have to step up and play their best football and put our team in position to win this game."
Alabama running back Trent Richardson was asked Thursday to express his thoughts on Mathieu. The two got to know each other last month during the ESPN College Football Awards and Heisman Trophy ceremony. Richardson called Mathieu "motivated."
"He's a very motivated guy," Richardson said. "He's a special guy. When I was down there I got to find out he was adopted. And to come from a situation like that and being as small as he is, it tells you a lot about his personality and what his ego is for real.
"To come from a guy like that who came from the situation he came from, it means a lot to everybody and gives a lot of hope to kids out there that are smaller than what most of the kids are nowadays," Richardson added.
Mathieu admits he enjoys his celebrity status, but also admits his teammates keep him humble.
"Michael Bonnette does a good job of definitely keeping me humble and just keeping me motivated and doing the things I gotta do for my team," Mathieu said. "These guys sitting next to me always bring me back down to Earth. So I never get too ahead of myself anymore. I just try to go out there, play my game fast, hoping that those guys have my back."