BATON ROUGE - LSU's All-America cornerback Patrick Peterson will forgo his senior season and enter the NFL Draft, he announced on Monday at a press conference on the LSU campus.
Peterson, a junior from Pompano Beach, Fla., is considered one of the top five overall prospects in this year's NFL Draft.
"I will be entering the 2011 draft, but this press conference is not about me leaving, but about how great of an experience I had at LSU," Peterson said. "I'd like to thank Coach Miles for coming to South Florida and recruiting me and bringing me to the wonderful city of Baton Rouge. I'd like to thank the wonderful fans at LSU. There is no place in America that has the fans and student body that we have. I'd like to thank my Dad and Mom for raising me to be the best man I can be, and for putting me in this position to make a quality decision. I'd also like to thank Coach Chavis as well for the two years he spent with me, bringing his aggressive game planning down to LSU and allowing me to showcase my talent even more.
"I know my brothers and sisters are home and happy that their big brother is finally going to the next level and living his dream. This has been a wonderful time at LSU. I will never forget this place, and LSU will always be in me until the day I die. I will always bleed purple and gold."
As a junior in 2010, Peterson became one of the most decorated players in school history, earning the Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back and the Bednarik Award as the top defender in college football. Peterson was also the Southeastern Conference's Defensive Player of the Year and Special Teams Player of the Year in 2010.
A consensus All-America in 2010, Peterson wrapped up his junior season with the Tigers with 42 tackles, six pass breakups, and four interceptions. On special teams, Peterson set the LSU single-season record for kickoff return yards with 932 yards. He ranked second in the SEC and among the top 10 in the nation in punt returns with a 16.1 average on 26 returns. He also returned two punts for touchdowns.
"The advantage for a guy that comes in, develops, works hard, develops leadership skills, makes plays that his team counts on him to make, does hard things with a smile on his face and has exceptional talent puts himself in a draft position that is really too good to forgo," LSU coach Les Miles said. "This is a decision that Patrick Peterson and his family made independent of me, but I want to say simply that I agree with it completely. The decision that he makes is a quality one."
For his career, Peterson played in 39 games, starting 30 times. He recorded 135 tackles, 22 pass breakups and seven interceptions on defense. As a return specialist, he finished with 418 punt returns yards and two touchdowns to go with 932 kickoff return yards.
Peterson scored touchdowns three different ways during his career with the Tigers - punt returns (2), interception return, and return of a blocked field goal.