Well, I'm already all aboard the Derek Stingley hype train
When it comes to college football, they say “don’t fall in love in the spring.”
If we’re being honest, I say that. It’s a reminder that it’s only spring, and until you do it in the fall, it’s nothing more than something to talk about to pass the time during the offseason.
But I can’t help myself when it comes to Derek Stingley Jr.
LSU fans already know that name well because the 5-star early enrollee is a Baton Rouge native who committed to the Tigers in June, and he’s been hyped as the next star of “DBU.” For people who don’t know that name yet, don’t worry. It’ll be a few more months before Stingley is making interceptions and making opposing fans yell at their TVs.
“How is that dude only a freshman?!”
He produced one of those moments Saturday in LSU’s spring game. Joe Burrow had 6-4 Terrace Marshall in single coverage on Stingley and well, let’s just say the guy who ended up with the ball did not look like a freshman:
Derek Stingley, football player. pic.twitter.com/0torrUGfog
— Connor O'Gara (@cjogara) April 6, 2019
Need I say more?
Sure, one play of perfectly reading the receiver’s eyes, squaring the shoulders back to the ball and wrestling for an interception doesn’t mean a guy is going to be a star cornerback. But what Marcus Spears said on the SEC Network broadcast after Stingley made that play stood out.
“I was talking to (LSU defensive backs coach) Corey Raymond during Pro Days,” Spears said on the broadcast. “He said if Stingley worked out right now, he’d be a top-10 pick in the NFL Draft. That’s how much of an athlete he is.”
That’s not something that’s thrown around lightly, especially from someone like Raymond, who has been coaching LSU’s loaded group of defensive backs since 2012. According to Spears, LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda said that Stingley looks like former first round pick Tre’Davious White. Spears is more a fan of the Patrick Peterson comp because Stingley is 6-1 with long arms, and is physical enough to play at the line of scrimmage.
Hearing Spears gush about Stingley’s skill set made it seem like he was an NFL Draft prospect doing drills at the Combine (it probably won’t be too long before that). Stingley’s ability to play press and cover all over the field was on full display Saturday.
“All of these things are stuff you have to teach secondary-level guys, and (Stingley) walked in the building with it. That’s what (Ed Orgeron) told me,” Spears said on the broadcast.
Greg McElroy added that the coaching staff said the early enrollee has had teachable moments, and that in all likelihood, there will be growing pains ahead. But McElroy added that playing alongside Kristian Fulton, LSU’s cornerback duo “could go with anyone.”
Oh, and having a safety valve like All-American Grant Delpit will help the freshman, too.
It’s hard to ask for much more out of an incoming player than what we’ve already seen from Stingley. He’s the son of a coach, which explains the early understanding of concepts. It probably doesn’t hurt that Stingley earned Academic All-State honors.
Add it all up and yeah, it makes sense that Stingley was the highest-rated cornerback recruit since Iman Marshall in 2015. Even if Stingley wasn’t already earning rave reviews in practice, that alone would set some sky-high expectations for his LSU career.
Usually, I err on the side of caution when it comes to 5-star hype. There are so many things that they have to figure out before they can even become average college players, much less stars.
Stingley still has a lot to figure out. He’ll still have to deal with bigger, stronger receivers on a consistent basis. He’ll have to deal with the mental burden of knowing that one busted coverage can be the difference between LSU getting to the SEC Championship. And he’ll also have to deal with the likelihood that quarterbacks will go his way a lot until he establishes himself.
But Stingley has the makings of someone that can be more than just another standout LSU defensive back. All signs point to him becoming a guy that Tiger fans will appreciate for the next 3 years.
You know. Just in case they aren’t in love yet.