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Best Players of the Les Miles Era #1: Patrick Peterson

Y'all know the drill by now.

Chris Graythen

The 2010 football season was a fun time in these parts. My second football season here, Paul's first, and with some batshit crazy moments on the field it was really when ATVS became the site that you know and love today. Les Miles bent time. He broke Urban Meyer. He called tight-end reverses. And we had a lot of fun.

And in a throwaway line at the end of a week two preview of LSU-Vanderbilt, we created one of the most enduring memes we've ever had:

Do NOT Expect


Superman 2

Vanderbilt managed to down three out of six punts inside the 20-yard line last week. Patrick Peterson had nearly 300 return yards. Something tells me he won't see too many pitches to hit at this at-bat. Of course, if Larry Smith is brave/stupid enough to throw something his way, there will still be a chance for somebody to kneel before Zod.

Later on, Poseur cemented it in the comments...

We have found the nickname!

I've been searching for the perfect Patrick Peterson meme (PATRICK PETERSON!! WOOOOO!!!!!) and "Kneel before Zod" strikes me as the right one.

Patrick Peterson = Zod. Make it so.

So in that way, Peterson and the blog will always be somewhat intertwined. Not that he's ever needed us to make a name for him.

Peterson was a five-star recruit that stood out, even among that select club. Scouts insisted he was a no-doubt future pro that would be at whatever college he attended three seasons. The adopted son of a personal trainer, he was a mega-driven football nut with an NFL corner's body. Frankly, he was the kind of South Florida prospect that's usually drawn to the University of Miami's long line of first-round picks and All-pros. But his recruiting trip to Baton Rouge was for the epic 2007 LSU-Florida game, and he was hooked.

And it didn't take long for him to meet the hype. He played in every game as a freshman, and by his sophomore season, Peterson had cemented himself as the country's best cornerback, locking up fellow legends and eventual first-rounders A.J. Green and Julio Jones and genuinely erasing his side of the field.

The 2010 season began and there was no doubt about his abilities. But then he found new ways to surprise us.

In the first game of the season Peterson set a new LSU record with 257 total return yards, including the above 87-yard touchdown. He'd finish the season averaging 16.7 yards per punt return, scoring two touchdowns, forcing countless 20-30 yard bloopers and striking one Heisman pose.

Meanwhile, on defense, he wasn't so much of a defensive back as a defensive inevitability. Opponents just didn't avoid throwing the ball his way, he'd become such a physical defender at 6-1 and 220 pounds that a lot of spread teams wouldn't even run it at him. Watching another quarterback throw it his way was usually followed with a "well...that was a mistake" and an interception. He'd finish with 42 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, four interceptions, another six pass break-ups and a blocked field goal, taking home unanimous All-American honors, SEC defensive and special teams player of the year honors, the Jim Thorpe and the Chuck Bednarik awards.

More importantly, he turned LSU, a school that already had a pretty good reputation for producing defensive backs, into DBU. He set a standard and created a reputation that players like Tyrann Mathieu, Morris Claiborne and Eric Reid continued to work to uphold. A reputation that star recruits can't wait to be a part of to this day.

He is the most gifted and dominant cornerback I have ever seen. The most explosive punt returner. And the greatest LSU football player of the Les Miles Era.