LSU trio rakes in national awards

Tyrann Mathieu, Morris Claiborne and Les Miles all feted for 2011 seasons

A busy week of national recognition reached its first zenith Thursday night, with Tyrann Mathieu, Morris Claiborne and Les Miles all claiming honors during the Home Depot College Awards Show.

With a national television audience watching, Mathieu was named the Chuck Bednarik Award winner, presented to the best defensive player in the country, Claiborne won the Jim Thorpe Trophy recognizing the best defensive back in the country and Miles landed the Home Depot Coach of the Year honor.

The two LSU cornerbacks were also named to the Walter Camp All-American Team. Both followed as the winners of their respective awards in the footsteps of former LSU standout Patrick Peterson.

Mathieu, whose appearance in New York for the 2011 Heisman Trophy presentation will cap the busy week, leads No. 1-ranked LSU with 70 tackles, 53 solo stops and 6½ of those behind the line of scrimmage. He also broke up seven passes, picked off two, forced six fumbles and recovered five loose balls.

In the Tigers' last two games, Mathieu returned punts for touchdowns to produce the first points of the day in games when LSU was facing double-digit deficits in the second quarter.

"It's an honor to be recognized with this award, especially when you look at how good the other finalists are," Mathieu said in a statement released by LSU. "I accept this on behalf of our entire team and coaches. We take pride in our defense at LSU and that's to be dominant every day. To win the award that Pat won last year is just a great feeling."

Claiborne, voted the 2011 SEC Defensive Player of the Year by the league's coaches, was the anchor in an LSU secondary regarded as one of the best in the country, with six interceptions, six other passes defended and 46 tackles (28 solo).

"I am excited to be a part of the Thorpe family of winners," Claiborne said in the statement. "We have so many great players at LSU and they push me every day to get better. Winning this award is not possible without my teammates, (LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis) and (defensive backs coach Ron Cooper). We are proud to bring the Thorpe Award back home again to LSU."

The Thorpe award will be formally presented to Claiborne at the 25th anniversary banquet on Feb. 7, in Oklahoma City. The award will be presented by Peterson.

Miles eanred the national coaching honor in his seventh season at LSU, one in which he has guided the Tigers to a 13-0 record for the first time in school history. Besides the 13 victories, Miles also steered his team through several off-the-field land mines, including a fight outside a bar that led to a four-game suspension of veteran quarterback Jordan Jefferson.

Of LSU's 13 wins this year, eight came against ranked opponents and seven of those eight have been by double digits.

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