Morris Claiborne: “I learned a long time ago not to put any undo pressure on yourself. Just go out and work hard.”May 1, 2012 – 7:30 am by Steven Cuce
The Dallas Cowboys viewed Morris Claiborne as the number two player on their draft board and essentially a long shot to be selected because he was the best defensive player in the draft. Executive vice president Stephen Jones has now made it known that Claiborne was the only player the Cowboys would trade up for and their prayers became a reality when the St.Louis Rams were willing to trade back once it was known that Jacksonville would take Justin Blackmon.
Claiborne brings the Cowboys defense speed and athleticism this team hasn’t seen since the days of Deion Sanders in terms of a player who can potentially be a shut down corner and also make an impact in the return game. This is all yet to be seen. No one can foresee how any draft pick will turn out, but at this point it has become apparent that the ‘Boys weren’t kidding by addressing their issues in the secondary with the signing of Brandon Carr and the drafting of Morris Claiborne with the No. 5 overall selection.
Morris Claiborne joined ESPN Radio Dallas with Galloway & Company to talk about being ecstatic that he’s a member of the team he grew up rooting for as a kid, Les Miles giving him advice on being a Dallas Cowboy, being excited to work against Miles Austin and Dez Bryant in practice, Patrick Peterson pushing him to become a cornerback at LSU, returning punts and kickoffs and handling the pressure that comes with being labeled as the best defensive player in the NFL draft.
You grew up a Cowboys fan in Louisiana. Has it sunk in that you are a member of the Dallas Cowboys now?
“Oh man it have. When I got back everybody came over to the house. Everybody Cowboys fans. Everybody come with their jerseys on and they hats on and their tee-shirts.”
Les Miles used to work for the Cowboys. Has he told you yet the difference there is in being a member of the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL?
“No I haven’t had a chance to talk with him about anything like that, but I can tell from talking to him one-on-one at the draft that he loves his Cowboys. It’s a place where he worked. He loved it when he was there. He has so much respect for the whole coaching staff.”
How excited are you about being challenged by receivers like Miles Austin and Dez Bryant?
“I’m very excited. I’m very excited to get right in and get around those guys and learn as much as I can learn from the receivers standpoint to the cornerback standpoint and both of those guys are great, big receivers and I am looking forward to getting some work in against them, so they can make me better.”
Share the story of when you came to LSU. You were going to be a wide receiver and not a cornerback. Patrick Peterson started lobbying for you to be a cornerback. Explain how that whole thing went down?
“Well when I first came in and stepped foot on campus it was one of my visits. Patrick was my host and he kept telling me man you need to move to corner. I’m like no man I’m a receiver. I want to make plays with the ball in my hands. I want the ball in my hands and when I went to camp the coaches wanted me to do every day, each and every day, a day at corner, a day at receiver, a day at corner, a day at receiver. I ended up liking corner. I stayed over in the cornerback role and whatever. [Les] Miles came and got me and said you don’t have a position yet. Just roll with us and let us figure this thing out. I kept making plays at corner and he decided to go ahead and stay over there, so that’s how it happened.”
What about returning kicks? Is that something you would like to do?
“Yes sir. Hopefully that’ll be one of the things they let me do. I think an important part of my game is returning kicks and hopefully they will let me get back there and return a couple whether it is punts or kickoffs.”
You are being compared to Deion Sanders in Dallas. Do you relish that kind of pressure? Do you enjoy that kind of pressure?
“Oh yeah I enjoy it. Being a football player you have enough pressure on you as is being a football player. I learned a long time ago not to put any undo pressure on yourself. Just go out and work hard and keep God first and always pray and everything will work out and turn out beautifully.”