LSU CB Claiborne turning pro

LSU CB Claiborne turning pro

Published Jan. 12, 2012 12:00 a.m. ET

LSU All-American cornerback Morris Claiborne and defensive tackle Michael Brockers have decided to leave school early to enter the NFL draft.

''My decision had nothing to do with the game on Monday and how the season ended,'' Claiborne, a junior, said Thursday afternoon in a joint announcement with Brockers and coach Les Miles. ''I knew this day was going to come.''

Claiborne, who led LSU with six interceptions this season and returned one for a touchdown, also won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back. In addition, Claiborne was LSU's top kickoff returner, averaging 25 yards per return with one touchdown that went 99 yards at West Virginia.

Brockers' 54 tackles were seventh on LSU's defense. The redshirt sophomore was credited with 10 tackles for losses, including two sacks. He also had a forced fumble and intercepted a screen pass.


Their departures means the Tigers will have to replace two of their top defenders as they work to bounce back from Monday night's loss to Alabama in the BCS title game.

''After the game Monday, I thought about how it ended. I talked to my mom, my grandmother and people close to me,'' Brockers said. ''I made a decision. I think it was a good decision.''

The 6-foot, 185-pound Claiborne is projected to be a potential top 10 pick in next April's NFL draft. Brockers said he had been advised he could be selected as high as the first round but also in later rounds.

Miles said he felt differently about the decisions of each player to turn pro, ''but supported both.''

''Mo is a top ten player, maybe a top five player. There was no way for him to improve his draft status,'' Miles explained. ''Michael could have improved his draft position (by staying at LSU). He made a family decision to fulfill an obligation to his family. They both did what they were asked to do for the program. What they leave is a legacy on how to do it.''

Claiborne, who is from Shreveport, initially came to LSU expecting to play wide receiver but was quickly converted to defensive back and played in seven games in a reserve role as a true freshman.

''This program is great. The coaches know what's best for you,'' Claiborne said. ''This was an only one in a lifetime opportunity. I'm sad about leaving.''

Claiborne started 12 games as a sophomore opposite 2010 Thorpe Award winner and current Arizona Cardinal Patrick Peterson. With teams often avoiding throwing to Peterson's side of the field, Claiborne saw a lot of balls come his way and responded with a team-leading five interceptions and also recovered a fumble.

This season, he was part of a defensive backfield that included fellow All-American Tyrann Mathieu.

Claiborne's 11 career interceptions places him in a tie with several other players for sixth all-time at LSU.

Brockers, a Houston native, came to LSU expecting to play defensive end before moving to the interior of the line.

''You have to do what's best for the team. You have to trust the coaches,'' Brockers said. ''If I didn't move from defensive end to defensive tackle, where would I be? I bought into the program and to what the coaches told me.''