Defensive tackle Corey Liuget is anxious to return to the field after an injury-shortened 2015 campaign.
One of the NFL’s top interior linemen, Liuget signed a multi-year contract extension through 2020 in June 2015. A couple months later, teammates voted him a team captain for the first time in his career. The accolades followed a 2014 campaign in which Liuget led the defensive line in tackles, while leading the team in sacks, tackles for loss and quarterback pressures. He also tied for the team lead in forced fumbles, ranked second in quarterback hits, and scored his first touchdown during a December game in San Francisco.
In 2015, Liuget started the first eight games before he was slowed by a foot injury that hit during an early-Nov. game in Baltimore. Liuget missed a game, then returned to start three more, but on Dec. 12 the Chargers opted to place him on the “Reserve-Injured” list, giving him a head start on being ready for 2016.
The Chargers’ first-round pick in 2011, Liuget was the Chargers' Defensive Player of the Year in 2012. In 2013, he led the team in sacks, tackles for loss, quarterback pressures and quarterback hits. He played some of his best football down the stretch in helping the Chargers reach the playoffs for the first time since 2009. He collected six of his team-leading 10 tackles for loss in the last six games and in the Chargers’ Wild Card Playoff win in Cincinnati, he led the line in tackles, while also contributing a sack, a tackle for loss, a pass defensed and a quarterback hit.
Liuget’s rise on the field is impressive when considering the obstacles he faced early in his career. After being drafted in 2011, the NFL lockout wiped out what would have been Liuget’s first offseason with the team. After the lockout ended and the season rolled around, injuries took a toll on the Chargers’ defensive line and Liuget was pressed into immediate duty. He played in 15 games and made 13 starts. However by season’s end, his weight had ballooned to more than 325 pounds, due in large part to an extended visit from his mom, Lorene, and her home cooking. Rather than continuing to pack on pounds, Liuget made a decision to travel back to Florida where he could train at his alma mater, Miami’s Hialeah High School. The move paid dividends as Liuget lowered his weight to 300 pounds and it set the wheels in motion for a breakthrough 2012 season in which he led the Chargers' defensive line in sacks, tackles, tackles for loss and passes defensed.
Work ethic is one trait that was drilled into Liuget at an early age. His father, DeJa, was killed while visiting Corey’s grandmother in Haiti in 1993. It left Lorene to raise Corey and his four older brothers and sisters as a single parent in Miami’s Liberty Square housing projects, also known as the Pork ‘n’ Beans public housing projects. When her kids were young, Lorene enlisted their help to make ends meet. She would boil peanuts, and make candy apples, conch fritters and sweet potato pies, which Corey and his brothers and sisters would sell. It taught all of the Liuget kids about work ethic and discipline.
Liuget had a standout prep career as a 6-2, 220-pound quarterback at Hialeah High School. He ran a 4.6-second 40-yard dash and was highly recruited by a number of colleges. Despite hailing from a close-knit family that tops 100 in number and a strong recruiting push from the big in-state schools, Liuget opted to chart his own path and enroll at the University of Illinois. After two years in Champaign, Ill., Liuget grew homesick and contemplated returning home after his sophomore season. Some tough love from his mom persuaded him to stick it out and, instead of moping over the situation, he used it as motivation. Liuget lost 25 pounds between his sophomore and junior seasons, and feeling re-invigorated, had a career year for the Fighting Illini in 2010. Liuget chose to leave school a year early and apply for the 2011 NFL Draft. The Chargers loved the toughness, tenacity and relentless approach to the game that he showed and made him their first-ever first-round pick from Illinois.
Liuget appreciates living in a city with a strong military presence as his sisters — Ideidre and Latronika — both serve in the Army.
Liuget enjoys traveling. In 2013, he vacationed in the Dominican Republic, where he learned to surf and scuba dive. In 2014, Liuget and his fiancee, Faven, visited Ethiopia, Dubai, Costa Rica and the Bahamas. And in 2015, the couple visited Egypt and Aruba, while also returning to the Dominican Republic.
Liuget has a son – Corey, Jr. – and two daughters – Eden and Eva. When Corey, Jr. was an infant, he had surgery to correct a heart defect. To show his appreciation, Liuget lends his time to support the American Heart Association at a number of community events.
One of Liuget’s hobbies is fishing. He often goes deep-sea fishing with his cousins when home in Miami. Liuget has also hosted fishing trips in San Diego for children from area nonprofit agencies. One of the beneficiaries of Liuget’s love of the water is F3G (Fish, Food, Feel Good), an organization that collects fish from sport fishermen and distributes it free of charge to local charities.
In June, Liuget hosted the third-annual “2 Liuget 2 Quit Youth Football Clinic and 7-on-7 Tournament” in Miami in with the Little Haiti Optimist Club.
In 2015, Liuget was a nominee for the NFLPA’s Byron “Whizzer” White Award for outstanding community service.
TRANSACTION HISTORY: First-round pick (18), April 28, 2011...agreed to contract, Aug. 4, 2011.
2015: Three-yard sack on 3rd-and-7 to force second quarter punt Oct. 12 vs. Pittsburgh...five-yard fourth-quarter sack to help force three-and-out Oct. 18 at Green Bay...left Baltimore game Nov. 1 in first quarter with foot injury...inactive Nov. 9 vs. Chicago (foot), ending streak of 69 straight games played and 60 straight starts...six-yard sack on 3rd-and-4 to force third-quarter punt Nov. 22 vs. Kansas City...placed on “Reserve-Injured” Dec. 12.
2014: Led defensive line with sack and five tackles Week 1 at Arizona...also led team with three quarterback pressures and tied for team high with three quarterback hits, including big hit on Carson Palmer on opening series of game...in second quarter, six-yard sack helped force punt that was blocked by Jerry Attaochu...Team Captain for Sept. 14 win over defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle...AFC Defensive Player of Week after leading team with three pressures and four quarterback hits Sept. 21 at Buffalo...in fourth quarter, shared 17-yard sack on 3rd-down play while also forcing fumble...led line with six tackles...had another apparent forced fumble taken away earlier in game when officials ruled runner was down by contact...late fourth quarter pressure led to throwaway by Bills quarterback E.J. Manuel from end zone that was ruled intentional grounding and resulted in safety for final points in 22-10 win...team-high two tackles for loss in Sept. 28 win vs. Jacksonville...late fourth quarter pressure Oct. 12 at Oakland led to three-and-out and gave offense ball back for game-winning drive in 31-28 win...sack Oct. 19 vs. Kansas City...third quarter seven-yard sack and forced fumble vs. St. Louis Nov. 23 was scooped up by Andrew Gachkar and returned 13 yards for touchdown and 20-10 lead...earlier in game, drew hands to face penalty that negated 51-yard touchdown for Rams...led team with four tackles for loss in 34-33 win at Baltimore Nov. 30...scored first-career touchdown on fumble recovery in end zone Dec. 20 at San Francisco...score brought Chargers to within 28-21 in third quarter of game Bolts would win 38-35 in overtime...earlier in game, recovered fumble at Bolts’ own two-yard line to prevent potential touchdown on 49ers’ second possession...team-high two tackles for loss against Niners...three-yard sack in Dec. 28 season finale at Kansas City to finish season as team leader with 4.5.
2013: First sack of season and drew critical fourth-quarter holding penalty in Sept. 29 win over Dallas...penalty negated Cowboys first down and forced punt two plays later...Bolts countered with touchdown for final points in 30-21 win... season-high two sacks in 24-6 win at Jacksonville Oct. 20...blocked 59-yard field goal attempt at end of first half Nov. 3 at Washington...first-quarter sack in 41-38 win at Kansas City Nov. 24...combined with Thomas Keiser for fourth-down, 11-yard sack to end game...Monday Morning Quarterback Defensive Player of Week after tackle for loss and two key pressures in 27-20 win over 11-2 Denver Broncos Dec. 12...first pressure led to 12-yard sack and second led to late fourth-quarter interception that Chargers converted into field goal for 10-point lead...early sack to force three-and-out in playoff-clinching win over Kansas City Dec. 29...third-down sack in third quarter of Jan. 5 Wild Card playoff game at Cincinnati set up touchdown on ensuing drive for 14-10 lead...tackle for loss on 3rd-and-2 play in Jan. 12 divisional playoffs at Denver contributed to Broncos missing 47-yard field goal on next play.
2012: Chargers Defensive Player of Year (David Griggs Memorial Award)...USA Today All-Joe...Sept. 30 at Kansas City, ended Chiefs’ second drive of game with tackle for loss and forced fumble...Chargers recovered and scored TD on ensuing possession for 17-0 lead...team-high three passes defensed and first sack of season Oct. 7 at New Orleans...third-down sack and two passes defensed Oct. 28 at Cleveland...sack, two tackles for loss and overtime pass defended Nov. 25 vs. Baltimore...season-high two sacks in Dec. 23 win at New York Jets...fourth-down sack late in game was team’s 11th, tying franchise mark.
2011: Led team with two tackles for loss in first-career game Sept. 11 vs. Minnesota...helped close out NBC Sunday Night Football win over Baltimore Dec. 18 with late fourth-quarter sack.
COLLEGE: Honorable mention All-America by Pro Football Weekly and second-team All-Big Ten as junior in 2010...also team captain and Fighting Illini Outstanding defensive lineman...ranked seventh in Big Ten in tackles for loss (12.5) and eighth in sacks (4.5) in ’10...Big Ten Defensive Player of Week after 1.5 tackles for loss vs. Fresno State...finished career with 125 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 25.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and 13 quarterback hurries ...played at Illinois from 2008-10...left school after junior season...sociology major.
PERSONAL: Born in Miami, Florida...first-team all-state and all-area at Hialeah (Fla.) High...also wrestled...invited to play in 2008 Offense-Defense All-American game in Miami.