Gerald Herbert File, Associated Press
FILE - In this Aug. 9, 2011, file photo, LSU defensive back Tyrann Mathieu (7) smiles during the NCAA college football team's photo day in Baton Rouge, La. Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Trent Richardson, Montee Ball and Mathieu are the finalists for the Heisman Trophy, which is to be presented Saturday night, Dec. 10.

Down on the bayou, they've been saying, "Honey Badger for Heisman," for months.

Still, the first time Tyrann Mathieu heard the nickname LSU fans had given him, the cornerback wasn't thrilled because he didn't like the "honey" part.

Eventually, the 5-foot-9, 180-pound Mathieu bought into the campaign that compared him to a small, ferocious animal.

Mathieu appreciates now how the catchy nickname drew more attention to the mayhem he caused opposing offenses, and to his highlight-reel exploits on special teams.

The play-making sophomore with the dyed blond hair joins Alabama running back Trent Richardson, Wisconsin tailback Montee Ball and quarterbacks Andrew Luck of Stanford and Robert Griffin III of Baylor as Heisman Trophy finalists Saturday in New York.

Mathieu expects to be in the Heisman conversation next year, too.