Who's the next No. 7 for LSU? Seems obvious, doesn't it?
LSU is starting spring football practice, which means it’s time for the Tigers to name which player will wear the coveted No. 7 jersey during the 2020 season.
It has become a tradition for the No. 7 jersey to be given to a player who is expected to be one of the most dynamic players on the team in the upcoming season. It can be an offensive player or a defensive player.
The Legacy of 7️⃣ pic.twitter.com/WVocY3i5rW
— LSU Football (@LSUfootball) March 5, 2020
Last season, All-America safety Grant Delpit wore the number and his selection came as no surprise after he was named a unanimous All-American after his sophomore season in 2018.
Head coach Ed Orgeron said Delpit asked to wear the number, though it’s likely Orgeron would have selected him even if Delpit had kept quiet.
Delpit went on to earn significant accolades while wearing No. 7, though he wasn’t as dominant as a junior as he had been as a sophomore. The drop-off was largely due to him playing through injury for much of the season.
Nonetheless, Delpit is projected to be a high 1st-round draft choice after foregoing his final season of eligibility to go to the NFL.
When Orgeron announced the selection of Delpit last spring he showed his confidence in the selection by saying, “It’s a better choice than I made last year.”
That was a reference to wide receiver Jonathan Giles, who wore No. 7 in 2018. Giles, a highly-touted transfer who had been an impact player at Texas Tech, fell far short of expectations and switched to No. 12 after 5 games.
Giles was the second consecutive receiver to wear No. 7, inheriting it from D.J. Chark, who wore the number in 2017. Chark had a bigger impact than Giles, though his junior season wasn’t outstanding. He caught 40 passes for 874 yards and a gaudy average of 21.9 yards, but just 3 of the receptions resulted in touchdowns.
Though the past 3 seasons have featured mixed results from the players wearing No. 7, the first 3 players to wear the number since the tradition began established why the number is so coveted.
It started with cornerback/return specialist Patrick Peterson, who wore the number from 2008-10. After his junior season, Peterson was chosen as the winner of the Bednarik Award for the best defensive player in the country and the Thorpe Award for the best defensive back in the country.
Peterson passed the number on to Tyrann Mathieu, a cousin of his who also starred as a defensive back/return specialist. Mathieu wore the number in 2010 and 2011, winning the Bednarik Award and finishing 5th in the Heisman Trophy voting as a sophomore.
Mathieu’s LSU career ended prematurely when he was dismissed from the team during preseason camp in 2012 after failing multiple drug tests.
Running back Leonard Fournette became the first offensive player to wear No. 7 after the tradition began. He became one of the most prolific offensive players in Tigers history, though he missed 5 games of his junior season because of an ankle injury.
Who will be the next LSU player to wear No. 7?
The choice seems obvious since wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase is the most prolific playmaker returning from the national championship team last season after having one of the most productive seasons ever by an LSU player.
He was a unanimous All-American and won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top receiver as a sophomore after catching 84 passes for SEC records of 1,780 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns.
It’s worth noting that another dynamic player – cornerback/return specialist Derek Stingley Jr. – seems destined to wear No. 7 after being a consensus All-American as a true freshman last season.
But seniority – even for players who never become seniors – suggests No. 7 will belong to Chase for the 2020 season.