TEMPE, Ariz. -- Tyrann Mathieu did not play with or against Andrew Luck, but he has competed with the Indianapolis Colts quarterback.
Luck and Mathieu, now an Arizona Cardinal, were two of five college football players to be named finalists for the Heisman Trophy in 2011. As finalists, they were invited to New York to partake in the ceremony and festivities surrounding the award.
"He was a great guy," Mathieu said. "We laughed for most of the time we were up there; I was just happy to be up there. From my impression, he's a great guy."
Mathieu and Luck were joined in the Big Apple by fellow finalists Trent Richardson (Alabama), Montee Ball (Wisconsin) and Robert Griffin III (Baylor), the last of whom went on to win the award.
It should be no surprise that being linked together like they were spawned a friendship, and Mathieu said he's looking forward to facing his former award rival for the first time Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium.
"No question, even when we went to the Heisman together we always joked about hopefully we'd have a chance to play each other, so we get that opportunity this Sunday so I'm going to be excited to see him and I'm definitely going to be excited to play against him.
"And I know he is too."
Of course Luck, who is in his second NFL season, got a bit of a head start on the rookie Mathieu. After throwing for 4,374 yards and 23 touchdowns while leading the Colts to the playoffs last season, the former Stanford star has passed for 2,430 yards and 14 touchdowns in 10 games for the 7-3 Colts this season.
Luck has also done considerable damage with his legs, running for five touchdowns last year and four already this season, so there's little doubt among anyone that he is already one of the most dangerous signal callers in the league.
But Mathieu, who was the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Month in October and has amassed 61 tackles to go along with two interceptions and one forced fumble on the season, has had a noticeable impact, too. The former LSU star has already picked off passes from Drew Brees and Matt Ryan, two of the better QBs in the league, and would not mind adding Luck to the growing list.
"No question," Mathieu said. "Andrew Luck, he's probably Drew Brees and Cam Newton all in one person, so we definitely are going to have our hands full and know we've just got to do our job to the best of our ability this week."