Patrick Peterson came to LSU from Pompano Beach, Fla., as Patrick Johnson and surrounded by the kind of hype that can get the best of even the most grounded 18-year-olds.
There might have been a time when he blinked. Who wouldn't when you're being hailed as the best cornerback prospect in the nation, maybe the best defensive player in the nation -- period?
| ||Brad Schloss/Icon SMI|
| ||Patrick Peterson says John Chavis has brought a "sense of urgency, a toughness" to the defense.|
But for all the gaudy expectations, Peterson turned out just fine during his true freshman year. He started in the final four games for the Tigers, and his talent was hard to miss.
Having taken on the last name of his father after getting to LSU, Peterson is primed for a breakout sophomore season. First-year defensive coordinator John Chavis said he's coached few cornerbacks as complete as the 6-foot-1, 175-pound Peterson.
He can cover. He can hit. He's a terrific athlete with even better speed, and he's fearless back there.
Here's a Q&A with one of the best up-and-coming players in the SEC:
What will be the biggest difference in you this season?
Patrick Peterson: I understand the game more, understand my position more and understand all my responsibilities. Last year, I was thrown into the fire and didn't understand everything that was going on out there. I'm more relaxed now and confident in all the guys around me, and I know everybody else's responsibility out there on the field, too.
Did you ever think you could get by on talent alone?
PP: You find out pretty fast that you definitely have to scout teams and know your responsibility that Saturday. If not, at the position I play and in this conference, you're going to get embarrassed on national TV. This is the baby NFL.
You'll go up against both Julio Jones and A.J. Green again this season. Are you more equipped for that challenge the second time around?
PP: If you're going to be the best, then you want to play against the best. That's what being a competitor is all about. Those guys are two of the best. I say, 'Bring it.' I'll bring my 'A' game and they can bring their 'A' game, and let's give these fans what they came to see.
How much do you think back to that 24-yard fade route Jones caught over you to set up Alabama's game-winning touchdown in overtime last season?
PP: It happens. It was a perfect throw. I had good coverage, and the quarterback put it in the right spot. All I can tell you is that I look forward to the next time.
Any cornerback lacking confidence isn't gong to last very long, is he?
PP: There's no tomorrow out there. If you lack confidence, everybody's going to see it. Every single play, you have to tell yourself that you're going to win. Even if you don't win, you have to keep telling yourself that. It's like, 'My guy's not going to catch it.' And when they do catch it, you come back the next play and work even harder. That's hard to do, but it's the way you've got to be at corner.
How good do you expect this secondary to be?
PP: We've got just about everybody coming back, and I think we've grown up a lot from having the ball thrown all over us last year. We're going to play with more attitude and more confidence this year. Our goal is to be one of the top 5 secondaries in the country.
What has Chavis brought to this defense that you guys might have been missing last season?
PP: More of a sense of urgency, a toughness, being more physical. He's turned all that around, and I can't wait to see it in the games. We're bringing the real LSU defense back.
Do you feel like you have anything to prove this season?
PP: Just to myself. I'm not looking to prove anybody wrong or live up to anybody else's expectations. I just want to do my job, be the hardest working DB out there and go win football games.