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LSU's Patrick Peterson (center)
Photo by: LSUsports.net, LSU Athletics Publications
Peterson Officially Accepts Thorpe Award
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Published: February 07, 2011, 10:26 PM (CT)
Updated: February 08, 2011, 09:35 AM (CT)

LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson patterns his game after Charles Woodson.

He also keeps in touch with the Green Bay Packers' star.

Peterson received his Jim Thorpe Award, given to the best defensive back in college football, at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum on Monday night.

Peterson says he received a text message from Woodson on Sunday night after the Pro Bowl cornerback annd 1997 Heisman Trophy winner was injured in the first half of the Super Bowl. Woodson, who broke his collarbone during the Packers' 31-25 victory against Pittsburgh, was letting his protege know he was going to be OK.

"He can play nearly every defensive position on the defensive side," Peterson said. "That kind of helped me expand my game more as a defensive back."

Peterson had 42 tackles, six pass breakups and four interceptions last season and was an All-American.

"He's a special athlete," LSU defensive back coach Ron Cooper said. "To be great in the secondary, you have to have great ball skills. You really have to be a better receiver than a defensive back. He mixes that with being able to cover and being able to tackle."

Peterson first heard about the Jim Thorpe Award from his father, who mentioned it was given to the best defensive back in college football. Peterson made it his goal to win the award.

"Once the ball is thrown your way, it's a must that you get an interception, knock the ball down or make a play for your team," Peterson said.

Peterson is skipping his senior season at LSU to enter the NFL draft. He is expected to be one of the first players selected.

The last six winners of the Thorpe Award, and nine of the past 10, have been drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft.

Peterson has been preparing for the NFL combine with his father in Florida and said he expects to go in the top-3, but has a plan to go first overall.

"Run fast, that's it," he said. "I want to run a 4.2."

Peterson is the first cornerback to win the Thorpe Award since Antoine Cason won in 2007. Safety Eric Berry of the Kansas City Chiefs won the award in 2009 and New Orleans Saints cornerback Malcolm Jenkins won in 2008.

"He's not just a corner or a safety," Berry said of Peterson. "He can do it all. He's a good football player."

Peterson was a two-time Southeastern Conference special teams player of the week this season and finished first in the SEC and fourth in the nation with a 16.1 yard punt return average. He also had two punt return touchdowns.

Peterson set an LSU record with 932 kickoff return yards on 32 returns -- a 29.1-yard average.

He is the first player in LSU history to receive the Thorpe Award.

 

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