Looking for Heisman? Look no further than LSU's Peterson

by | Special to CBSSports.com
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU cornerback and return extraordinaire Patrick Peterson went Desmond Howard after his 60-yard punt return touchdown against West Virginia on Saturday night as he busted out the Heisman pose to the LSU student section.

So what if he was flagged for it. He's right.

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We all know how much hype Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson is receiving. Don't get me wrong as it's well deserved. Add Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor in that same parade of Heisman rose petals thrown at both quarterbacks.

But mark it down right now.

Peterson proved he's the most dynamic player in college football since Charles Woodson during No. 15 LSU's 20-14 win over No. 22 West Virginia. I bet you can see where I'm going with this, but you'd be wrong. The best player in college football rarely wins the Heisman Trophy.

Peterson doesn't need no stinking trophy to tell me that he's the best NFL player in college football. He could be the next Woodson in the NFL, and that's saying something.

Peterson is already the Darrelle Revis/Nnamdi Asomugha of college football cornerbacks. No one throws his way. When they do it's going the other way. Mississippi State quarterbacks Chris Relf and Tyler Russell each made the mistake last week and Peterson picked off both of them.

Patrick Patterson's play deserves more than praise, how about the Heisman Trophy? (AP)  
Patrick Patterson's play deserves more than praise, how about the Heisman Trophy? (AP)  
Mountaineers quarterback Geno Smith quit scanning Peterson's side of the field.

West Virginia coach Bill Stewart even praised Peterson during his halftime TV interview. Then Stewart took off back to the locker room probably pondering how a cornerback cost West Virginia 10 points despite Smith never throwing in Peterson's direction.

Peterson strapped on his Superman cape after LSU's defense gave the Mountaineers a scoring opportunity with two personal foul penalties on consecutive plays. Peterson saved the day by blocking a chip-shot West Virginia field-goal attempt to stave off an early Mountaineer momentum, which could have been key in an upset attempt at Tiger Stadium.

Then came Peterson's moment.

You could see the running lane open before Peterson even fielded the punt, so fans rocked out of their seats in anticipation for the expected. As soon as Peterson fielded the punt you knew he it had touchdown written all over it. Peterson wasn't touched and it didn't appear anyone was even close.

"I told those guys [his special teams' teammates] that I definitely wasn't fair catching [Saturday night]," Peterson said. "I saw the punter was getting the ball down there pretty quick. I told those guys I believed in them and had faith in them."

LSU coach Les Miles used the word "fearless" to describe Peterson on that play.

He then followed it up in front of the student section and broke out his version of the Heisman pose "coincidently" in front of a chaotic student section.

His signature moment.

You know his pose was premeditated. He didn't admit as such and apologized repeatedly for it after the game, saying he was caught in the moment.

Peterson said he's seen the Howard Heisman pose on the cover of one of the EA Sports NCAA Football games, so I don't believe it.

And so what if it was premeditated?

There was some speculation that Miles sat Peterson down after his touchdown return as punishment for earning a 15-yard penalty. But both Miles and Peterson quelled that chatter as Peterson needed several IVs as a result of dehydration. It wasn't lip service as Peterson did run back to the locker room during the third quarter and came out a couple of minutes later.

"When he's hydrated, he's the best in the country, arguably having not seen anyone else," Miles said.

Peterson's heroics still aren't enough to pacify the overwhelming majority of fans at Tiger Stadium that booed from the onset of Saturday night's win through the game's final chapter at in the offensive ineptitude from quarterback Jordan Jefferson. And Miles took offense in his postgame presser to the hoard of LSU fans voicing its displeasure.

"It's one of those things that you put to the back of your mind because it's not conceivable to be real honest with you," Miles said. "Anybody in the right frame of mind who wears an LSU jacket, shirt, T-shirt comes into our stadium who has the LSU license plate, who cares so much and is so passionate for each of these teams that they could possibly [boo]. I wonder if they realize how they represent themselves when they boo. I've got to be real honest with you, as an older man, I don't think I've ever booed in my life. I really mean that because I realize how hard it is to play. ... Our team flew around and busted their tail and they were not perfect.

"But to think that somebody can boo great effort? Are you kidding me? It doesn't make any sense. ... I can promise you this. That guy, he goes to work. He goes to the coffee pot and complains about the coffee and he didn't make it. He goes home and he sees his wife and you know what, she's not dressed very nice. And you know what? He goes to bed early because he doesn't want to talk to her. And frankly she doesn't want to talk to him. And it's just a fact."

I know that's a whole other issue in and of itself.

Just don't miss out on the excellence that is Peterson because of Miles, Jefferson or anyone else.

The talk around Baton Rouge and beyond is that Peterson is the best pure athlete to play football for LSU since former Tiger great Tommy Casanova, who was in attendance at Tiger Stadium on Saturday night.

That's not a fair comparison. Peterson is no Casanova. (Well, I never asked about his personal life.)

Think bigger.

Think Revis. Think Asomugha. Think Champ Bailey.

And think Woodson, whether Peterson wins some trophy or not.

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