In the weeks leading up to LSU's season opener in 2020, many wondered who would wear No. 7 after Ja'Marr Chase had elected to opt out. Many names were thrown around before ultimately deciding on JaCoby Stevens, a veteran leader with the program.
Entering the 2021 season, there were no doubts as to who would sport the honor and on Tuesday the program made it official. Cornerback Derek Stingley will wear No. 7.
"It's an honor to be part of the legacy of players that have worn the number 7 jersey," Stingley said in a statement. "I'm looking forward to upholding the tradition and the standard of play that has been set by the group that has come before me."
Since that remarkable freshman season that left him a concensus All-American, national champion and one of the most dominant players in the country, Stingley was marked to wear the No. 7. Legendary members of the secondary like Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu and Grant Delpit made it iconic and now Stingley will look to take it to another level.
Stingley will without a doubt be a lock for a top 10 pick this time a year from now. His coverage skills and technique made him a can't miss prospsct coming out of high school and he backed it up with a stellar freshman season that included six interceptions.
Stingley battled injuries and inconsistency during the 2020 season as a sophomore as the entire LSU defense struggled to make much of an impact en route to a 5-5 season. The uber talented defensive back has been working with his father, Derek Stingley Sr., this offseason primarily on handling the mental side of football a bit better because of those struggles last season.
"It's all mental for him," Stingley Sr. said on the Jordy Culotta Show. "It's just a matter of understanding 'you're gonna have some setbacks' but you have to come back from it. You can't dwell on it, can't feel like you let the team down because someone caught a five-yard pass on you. He was so used to having that success and he never really had that adversity. Know your strengths, know your weaknesses and get by."