Morris ClaiborneLSU Football, 2011-12 Corbett Winner
With a defensive lineup filled with super stars, one continues to draw attention as the top standout for the prolific unit. Defensive back Morris Claiborne has capped an outstanding season by being selected as the James J. Corbett Award winner as the top male amateur athlete in the state of Louisiana.
Claiborne becomes the 10th LSU Football player to earn the honor as well as the second in a row as he follows fellow defensive back Patrick Peterson, the 2011 honoree.
"He was a great leader on our team,' said LSU head coach Les Miles. "You watch Mo and he represents us very well in everything that he does. He's a very talented guy. He's a kick returner, and he plays a lot on special teams in addition to what he does on defense. There's never been a time where he wasn't very productive."
Throughout the season, many recognized that LSU had arguably the top defense in college football history as the Tigers played a brutal schedule and held their opponents to just 11.3 points per game en route to a 13-1 final record. Opponents tallied just seven touchdowns through the air for the entire season. Nine of LSU's opponents were ranked at the time of the games, including four games against top-three foes.
Claiborne was second in the SEC with six interceptions and led the nation in interception yards with 173. He had 46 total tackles on the year, including 28 solo tackles, to lead an LSU defense that ranked number two nationally in total defense. In addition to his play on the defensive side of the ball, Claiborne was also a dangerous return man, recording 398 return yards on 14 kickoff returns in 2011, one for a touchdown. He was second in the SEC in average return yards with 26.1 yards per return.
The Shreveport product from Fair Park High School had a key interception in the Tiger's 9-6 victory at Alabama on November 5, 2011 and recorded an interception for a touchdown in the SEC Championship game against Georgia on December 3, 2011.
"The ball skills Morris has are unbelievable," said Patrick Peterson, last year's Corbett Award winner. "I believed (moving to defense) would definitely change his career and that's what it did. It propelled him in the right direction. His discipline, his footwork, his eye-hand coordination-he can track down a ball from pretty much anywhere-he pretty much has all the intangibles that a corner needs to be great."
Following his sensational season, Claiborne was named the Jim Thorpe Award winner as the top defensive back in the nation. He was also a consensus First Team All-American and the SEC Defensive Player of the Year. He was selected No. 6 in the NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys.
Story submitted by John Sudsbury of the Allstate Sugar Bowl.