Richardson, Mathieu ready to clash again
NEW YORK CITY | Words like "sweetheart" aren't exactly what most would have expected to come from Trent Richardson's weekend encounter with Tyrann Mathieu for the Heisman Trophy announcement in New York.
But that's exactly how Mathieu, LSU's standout defensive back, described Richardson after the two got to spend time together in the Big Apple.
The University of Alabama running back and the LSU defensive back are the brightest stars of their respective teams and will face one another for the second time this season in the BCS National Championship Game in New Orleans on Jan. 9. Given the ferocity with which the two compete, and with LSU having beaten Alabama 9-6 in overtime just five weeks ago, it would be easy to assume that the two would be anything but chummy with a national title clash still ahead.
Didn't turn out that way.
The two were spotted together Friday night on Broadway taking in the sights of Times Square, and formed a bond that Richardson described as "a lifetime friendship."
Richardson joked that Mathieu was certain to be the best-dressed among the finalists over the weekend.
"A lot of people think we are going to be at each other's throats the whole time or giving each other dirty looks," Richardson said. "We both can't wait for this game, but even after it we will still be friends."
When the Heisman winner was announced, Richardson and Mathieu were seated beside one another, and directly in front of their respective coaches, Nick Saban and Les Miles.
How the pair matches up on the field, however, has drawn plenty of attention.
Although he is undersized, Mathieu's reputation for hard hits and toughness preceded him into the first Alabama-LSU matchup. Richardson got the better of their most memorable encounter in the first game when he ran through a Mathieu tackle on the opening play of the second quarter.
The youtube.com clip of the play has drawn more than 19,000 views, and it came up in conversation between the two in New York.
"We made some jokes about (playing each other), but we didn't really talk about the game," Richardson said. "We talked about when we hit each other. He had hit me and I was like, 'OK, I know he's there.' And he was like, 'Man, you're tough to take down. You ran me over,' or something like that. But we were just joking about it."
While Morris Claiborne was the LSU defensive back who drew the most attention before the season began, it was Mathieu who emerged not only as a star performer but formed something of his own brand with the nickname "Honey Badger" as well.
The name comes in part in description of Mathieu's disposition as a defensive player. But Mathieu was more honey than badger on Saturday when asked about Richardson.
"Looking at Trent you would think he's a cold-hearted kind of guy, but the guy is really a sweetheart," Mathieu said. "And one thing is that his kids are the light of his world. I never knew that."
Reach Chase Goodbread at email@example.com or at 205-722-0196.
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