Peterson's ready to make his move

Leaving Pompano Beach after his senior year at Ely High, Patrick Peterson was ranked as the top cornerback in the class, giving LSU a signing day steal at the expense of Florida's state schools. One year later, Peterson takes to spring practice labeled as one of the conference's premier cover corners.

Though the Tigers saw Alabama freshman Julio Jones reel in seven catches for 128 yards on their Nov. 8 meeting, there was a heavyweight feel to the battle between Peterson and Jones that spoke volumes about where the Southeastern Conference was heading over the next few years.

 

Jones, who remained John Parker Wilson's go to man throughout the afternoon and into the night, was taking to the field in much of the same fashion as his counterpart, Peterson.

 

Both were the top rated prospects at their position in 2008, pairing up the country's elite for all to see on what would become one of the most memorable nights in recent SEC memory.

 

While Jones can argue that he won the opening round between the two, it was Peterson who earned his first start the following Saturday. Replacing Jai Eugene opposite Chris Hawkins, Peterson started the final four games of the season, making him the best guess for the same spot next fall.

 

Entering his first spring with the team, with a new defensive staff to boot, Peterson said that he has big plans for the conference's receivers next fall.

 

"This year my goal is to be the best defensive back in the nation," he said. "I am going to work every day as hard as possible to get there. I am getting faster and more physical, because those are two things I really wanted to build on after I saw everything for the first time last year."

 

After appearing in 13 games for the Tigers in his freshman campaign, Peterson said that he can now put a finger on his biggest area of concern.

 

"Looking back on things, I can see that my main problem was my nerves," he said. "I was just coming out of high school and getting the chance to play in Tiger Stadium, and that just excited me. Coming in as a true freshman and getting a lot of playing time was pretty tough on me.

 

"At the end of the season I relaxed a bit, and I think it showed in my play. I am going to have all that behind me this season, though. I feel much better this spring than I did last year."

 

While Peterson loses his secondary coach with the departure of Doug Mallory, the sophomore said that his development came along smoothly thanks in large part to his older Tiger teammates.

 

"I look up to Jai and Chris, because they have stopped and helped me along the whole way," he said. "When I got here in the summer I admired Hawkins' style of play a lot. I got with him and he taught me everything that I know right now. Those guys are a big part of why I came along so well last season."

 

With Ron Cooper taking over Mallory's defensive backs post, Peterson feels comfortable with where the unit's headman has the Tigers heading.

 

"The transition is pretty smooth, and a big part of that is that coach Cooper is pretty confident in all of us," he said. "Now it is just on us to get out there and produce. I am an easy going guy, so on a personal level it is not a big deal making a friendship with Cooper. He is a player's coach, and he knows what it takes to get guys in the spot when we need them."

 

As for any early signs of what to expect from the group in 2009, Peterson said that the speed of the unit should look to pick up in a big way.

 

"I think with the way we went into the first day of practice we are going to be a lot more aggressive on defense," he said. "It is going to be tight competition between all of us, so everyone will get their chance. LSU fans are going to see something exciting this year."

 


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