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Liuget Having Breakthrough Sophomore Campaign
Corey Liuget will be the first to admit that his rookie season was not all that he had hoped it would be.
The defensive end racked up just 19 tackles, five for a loss, in addition to just one sack and two passes defensed in 15 games. The 18th overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft, much more was expected out of the University of Illinois product. Still, there were some extenuating circumstances that kept him from reaching his potential, most notably the NFL lockout.
“Not having the OTA’s or minicamps last year because of the lockout hurt a lot,” he recently said. “I didn’t realize it at the time, but it definitely helped having those this year and also having a year under my belt.”
Liuget has been a revelation this season, recording 24 tackles, two sacks and a fumble recovery in nine games. Along with countless other quarterback pressures, he ranks second among all NFL defensive linemen with six passes knocked down.
Liuget credits a rigid training routine during the offseason for helping him lose weight, which has in turn improved his endurance and made him both quicker and stronger out on the field.
“I feel more comfortable,” he said. “I lost between 15-25 pounds. Last season I could only go for about seven plays before I’d have to come to the sideline. Now I can stay out there for pretty much the entire series.”
As a result, the 6-foot-2, 300-pound Liuget has impressed both his teammates and coaches alike. Head coach Norv Turner recently praised the defensive end for playing “awfully well.” Injured defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin said that even though he is hurt, he is confident the team “won’t miss much with guys like Corey out there.”
Perhaps the most encouraging sign for Liuget’s future is that he is only 22-years old. If he continues the current trajectory he is on, he has a chance to be a defensive star here in San Diego.