LSU Football Safety JaCoby Stevens Says There’s Plenty of Returning Production for Tigers to Stay Competitive
JaCoby Stevens doesn’t want to hear that the LSU program will be taking a step back in 2020. Yes, the team needs to replace the production from 14 key pieces lost to the draft and with not much of an offseason, it will make things difficult.
But when Stevens sits down and takes a look at the roster, there’s no reason, in his eyes, why the Tigers shouldn’t be competing for another national championship.
“You see all of the production coming back, you see the guys that once they got their opportunity in the game and what they were able to do with it and it’s exciting,” Stevens said on LSU Sixty Monday night.
In the secondary alone, Stevens points to the impending return of superstar cornerback Derek Stingley, fellow sophomore Cordale Flott and senior safety Kary Vincent as vital pieces from last year’s team.
Stingley led the country in interceptions with six, Vincent proved to be a reliable cover corner in the slot and as for Stevens, he earned a second-team All-SEC accomplishment after his 92 tackle championship season.
“Secondary wise you have Derek Stingley who's the best DB in college football returning,” Stevens said. “I had a productive year and then you have somebody like Cordale Flott coming back who had a breakout game against Alabama. And that's just the DBs. We could be here all day going through all of the production we have coming back.”
As LSU went through the near three month quarantine where all of the players were sent home, Stevens said it was the competitive drive that kept the unit going. As part of the workout regimen that the training staff sent home with the players, each player was also sent in videos to the coaches to show off the work they had been doing.
For players like Stevens, seeing his teammates put in that kind of work was all the motivation he needed.
“One of the things that helped the team is that we're always in constant competition with one another,” Stevens said. “So when we sent videos in as a safety group and we see receivers send in videos of them working out, that makes us want to go even harder. I know when I saw Ja'Marr Chase, Mo Hampton, Cam Lewis, it made us want to compete with one another and stay in shape and come back ready to go.
“When we did get that call we picked up right where we left off and that's what motivated me to stay in shape.”
The SEC announced in May that programs could start calling its players back to campus for voluntary workouts beginning on June 8. When that phone call finally came in, Stevens knew the kind of work he and his fellow teammates had put in.
Seven weeks later, the team is back on the field in “football school” for a two week OTA style of walkthrough practices preparing for the season.
“As soon as we got back coach O put us to work,” Stevens said. “We're very excited, we're starting with football school and kind of getting back fresh and doing all of the things the NCAA is allowing us to do."
The elephant in the room of course is what a college football season will look like in this COVID-19 world. Sometime this week, the SEC will announce plans on whether to delay or alter the schedule of its season after a second wave of positive tests has rocked the country.
Sometimes when in the heat of practice, Stevens says it’s easy to forget he’s wearing a mask. It’s something that’s become second nature to him at this point.
"We have to take care of one another. For me the staying at home, the not being in public, for me that's easy, that's a responsibility that I understand,” Stevens said. “That's something that not just everybody on this team but around the country should do so we can get back to some sense of normal."