Tyrann Mathieu was woken up yesterday at 4 a.m. and handed a cup on his way to the bathroom. That’s the way life is going to be as long as the defensive back has aspirations to gain employment in the NFL.

Mathieu, a 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist, was kicked out of LSU last summer after failing his latest drug test for smoking marijuana. He went to rehab but was arrested in October for pot possession, raising huge concerns that he cared too much about the partying lifestyle and not nearly enough about his NFL potential.

Mathieu expressed yesterday at the combine that he has worked to shed that image, and he wanted to be accountable for his mistakes.

“I know what it’s like to be humiliated,” Mathieu said. “To go back down that road, not a chance in this world, not a chance in my lifetime again.”

Mathieu said he hasn’t smoked since Oct. 26, which should bode well for that early-morning drug test. And assuming he passed, teams could begin to come back around on the relentless playmaker. Mathieu, though, was realistic enough to know one test isn’t enough to convince teams to invest a draft pick on him.

“I’m not asking them to totally trust me right now,” Mathieu said. “What I am asking is for them to give me an opportunity to play a game again. I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on it, especially without football, so it’s really given me a different outlook on life, just about being the right kind of person.”

It’s conceivable that Mathieu’s greatest challenge involves something that he simply can’t control. He is 5-foot-9 and 186 pounds, and that’s hardly ideal for an outside cornerback who could line up over a big-play receiver that has 7 or 8 inches on him, or a safety who couldn’t outmuscle a hulky tight end in the red zone.

Because of that, he is most often viewed as a slot cornerback, but he played that position plenty of times at LSU. Plus, NFL teams are utilizing a lot more nickel packages to counter spread offenses, and there is a growing need for reliable interior coverage specialists.