Will LSU Football Cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. Play Offense and Defense as a Junior in 2021?
There's no question that Derek Stingley Jr. is one of the most gifted athletes to play football for the LSU program. As a high school prospect, he was not only the top ranked player in his recruiting class but one of the more highly touted prospects in recent memory.
For all of his immense abilities on the defensive side of the ball, he was just as lethal on offense for Dunham High School during his career. Even as a youngster playing for the 7v7 Louisiana Bootleggers, Stingley would often make some of the best cornerbacks in the country look silly.
One of the ideas that's been speculated on is that Stingley would one day be able to transition to offense, playing both ways for the Tigers at some point in his career. LSU coach Ed Orgeron seemed to confirm that thinking on Wednesday with an interview on WWL radio in New Orleans.
Orgeron was asked what to expect from the consensus All-American in his sophomore season after establishing himself as the best cornerback in college football as a freshman. Orgeron revealed that Stingley would stick to defense and punt return this season but that the would be to play both offense and defense as a junior in 2021.
"During recruiting, I promised him two years on defense and then the next year, the third year, I think you're going to see Derek play both ways for us," Orgeron said.
"I think this year you're not going to see us just use Derek in man free coverage, I think you're going to see him blitzing, I think you're going to see him use his talents in some places where we need him on defense. I think Bo's going to mix it up where he's going to have our corners doing different things."
As a freshman at LSU, his game only rose to another level. Qurterback Joe Burrow has talked about how in the practices before LSU's Fiesta Bowl win over UCF in 2018, he threw at the early enrollee Stingley a ton. He learned very quickly that wasn't going to be how he succeeded in practice.
"He is the best young cornerback I’ve ever seen and I’ve been around some great ones. He’s the best and it’s really not even close," Burrow said on Adam Schefter's Podcast ahead of the NFL draft. "He plays the position so smooth that it’s just really hard to get open on him. The battle between him and Ja’Marr in practice was a lot of fun.
“When he first got to LSU I learned very quickly throwing his direction was not going to be how I made my living at practice.”
His stats were phenomenal as a freshman, laid out by ESPN last week as one of college football's top returning players.
"The gap between Stingley and the second cornerback on this list is massive. Stingley shattered PFF records across the board in his 2019 true freshman campaign, notably putting together the most WAA [Wins Above Average] we have ever seen by a non-quarterback in a single season."
Stingley was one of the most battle-tested corners in the country a season ago. He saw a whopping 94 targets -- second most among cornerbacks -- but he managed to allow a 38.3% catch rate and produce a 91.9 PFF grade that ranked fifth and first, respectively, among players at his position.
Could he have similar success on offense? That's to be determined. LSU is losing its top two receivers, Ja'Marr Chase and Terrace Marshall after this season, but the Tigers always seem to reload at receiver.
Stingley is a one of a kind athlete and would bring a dynamic element to the LSU offense in 2021 should Orgeron stick with his word and utilize him on both sides of the ball. It could be a special sight to behold.