Posted by Tom Fornelli
Though LSU lost the BCS National Championship Game to Alabama, there's still plenty of reason to be optimistic in Baton Rouge because the Tigers are a young team that will be returning most of its starters on both sides of the ball. However, Morris Claiborne and Michael Brockers will not be among those returning.
The school announced on Thursday that both players were leaving school to enter the NFL Draft.
“There are different times for guys to leave our program and the things that both of these men have done is have consistent growth as people and as student-athletes academically,” said Les Miles in the school's release. “Both men have been very humble in their approach to learning football. It started at a level much less to the level they are at now. They improved and improved and became tremendously competitive. They have put themselves in a position to enter the NFL Draft early at an advantaged position.
“Mo is expected to be in the top 10 players if not in the top five players selected in the NFL Draft. The opportunity to improve his draft position really doesn’t exist. I think Michael Brockers has the potential to improve his overall draft position but is making in my opinion a decision that allows him to fulfill an obligation to his family. Both men have done everything we have asked them to do, and they have both represented this program in an exemplary way both on and off the field. We are going to miss them. They are quality men. I have been fortunate to call up a huddle with these guys in it. I can tell you that their teammates will miss them as well.”
Claiborne is widely considered to be the best cover corner in all of college football, even if Tyrann Mathieu received more national attention for his playmaking ability. Which is why Claiborne won the Jim Thorpe Award this season, given to the best defensive back in college football. Claiborne finished the 2011 season with 51 tackles and had 6 interceptions and 6 passes broken up.
He's the top-ranked cornerback in CBSSports.com's position rankings, and is projected to go as early as third overall and no later than sixth in our mock drafts.
Brockers is a redshirt sophomore who had 54 tackles, 10 for a loss and 2 sacks from the defensive tackle position. He also blocked a field goal and had an interception.
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