The expectations for Derek Stingley Jr. only continue to mount as the 2021 season approaches. The junior cornerback, who will wear No. 7 for the purple and gold, continues to raise the bar as one of the most electric players in college football in 2021.
Stingley has been named to the preseason AP All-American team, the All-SEC team and is on numerous watch lists including the Hornung award, Jim Thorpe award and Walter Camp award. This week, ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit named Stingley the most exciting player to follow throughout this season.
The talent is undeniable as his ball skills, athleticism and technique allow him to be one of the most polarizing college talents, regardless of sport. A projected top five pick in next year's draft, Stingley will undoubtedly be followed closely by a number of NFL teams.
Hype around Stingley has only grown in recent months as The Athletic also released its top 50 prospects of the 2022 draft class and Stingley appeared at No. 1 overall in the rankings.
A long, smooth athlete, Stingley can mirror and stay in phase against all different types of route runners. There will be an occasional focus lapse here and there, but the Baton Rouge native shows a natural feel for cutting off routes and disrupting the catch window. With his natural instincts and fluid athleticism, Stingley is an outstanding man-coverage NFL prospect with Pro Bowl-level talent.
Stingley is currently dealing with a camp injury and is set to return next week for practice ahead of the UCLA matchup. He'll make up one half of a cornerback duo that promises to be one of the best in the country alongside Elias Ricks.
The connection between the players has grown exponentially and Stingley is a firm believer in what new defensive coordinator Daronte Jones has implemented with the Tigers.
"On the defensive side of the ball, when Coach Jones walks in the room, he just gives us energy," Stingley said at SEC Media Days. "We all as a group from the front line to the secondary, we're all hanging out, outside of football, interacting more, and it's showing on the field, and it's going to show this fall too."
The Baton Rouge native also had his high school number retired at Dunham High School on Friday night as high school football kicked off around Louisiana.
Carrying on that No. 7 legacy is something that Stingley felt poised to do as soon as he arrived on campus and now that he's set to return from injury, should only heighten the expectations for this season.
"I'm very excited. It's something I've always seen as a kid, the hype around it, and what everybody did with the number," Stingley said. "That's what I look forward to doing. I really want to leave a mark."