When Morris Claiborne paid LSU a visit back in 2008 while trying to decide which college he would play for, he knew he would eventually wind up at that school, but as a wide receiver.
Then-LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson served as Claiborne’s host, and quickly began planting seeds that Claiborne, who played on both sides of the ball for Shreveport’s Fiar Park High, needed to join him in the secondary.
“Patrick kept on pulling me,” Claiborne said at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis on Sunday. “I tried it for a day or two and ended up liking it.”
Claiborne went on to have a terrific career as a shut-down cornerback, recording 11 interceptions in three seasons. In 2011, he won the Thorpe Award, was named first-team All-American and SEC defensive player of the year while helping LSU win the national title.
Claiborne now ranks as the top cornerback in this year’s NFL draft and projects to go in the top 10, likely in the fourth- to sixth-pick range.
As he prepared for the combine, Claiborne leaned heavily on Peterson, whom the Arizona Cardinals drafted fifth overall in 2011 and wound up in the Pro Bowl after a stellar rookie season, for advice on what to expect and how to carry himself.
“His advice was just, ‘Go up and take over,’” said the 5-foot-11, 188-pound Claiborne, who hopes to continue in Peterson’s footsteps. “I’m just going to go out here and try to work this combine.”
Claiborne describes himself as a technician in the way he covers receivers, and he said he feels just as comfortable playing on the outside as he does lining up against slot receivers. He views that versatility as an asset that will cause teams to covet him even more.
Once he is drafted, Claiborne hopes to follow in Peterson’s footsteps and make an immediate impact.
“If I’m lucky to be picked, my job is to come in and try to make that team better, ad that’s what I am going to do,” said Claiborne, who Saturday night met with coaches from the Redskins, who pick sixth and, among other things, need help in their secondary. “I am going to come to work and work hard every day.”