JaCoby Stevens, Chris Curry and Damone Clark Deserving of LSU Football Jersey Change
On Friday, LSU announced it's newest members to the No. 7 and No. 18 clubs for the 2020 football season. Senior safety JaCoby Stevens will sport No. 7 for the Tigers while sophomore running back Chris Curry and junior linebacker Damone Clark will wear No. 18.
The announcement came just eight days before the Tigers take on Mississippi State in their SEC opener and the numbers go to three deserving and respected players in the LSU locker room.
For Stevens, this is the culmination of two years proving to be one of the vocal leaders of the team off the field and one of the most productive players on it as well. In 2019, an All-SEC junior season saw Stevens record 92 tackles, five sacks, three interceptions and nine passes defended.
A three time SEC Defensive Player or the Week a season ago, Stevens was also named to the All-SEC second-team for his performance. He'll join an elite group of past players who have worn the jersey including Patrick Paterson, Tyrann Mathieu, Leonard Fournette, DJ Chark and Grant Delpit.
While his accomplishments on the field have led to Stevens being included on numerous watch lists and preseason accolades heading into 2020, it's his work off the field that makes him a deserving No. 7 candidate. Stevens helped fill sand bags before a storm last fall, helped organize the entire team's voter registration and put together the LSU players' march a few weeks back.
"We decided we needed to do something so we decided to come to Tiger Stadium and walk to the president's office," Stevens told reporters after the march. "I felt like that walk has a lot more meaning than people actually see. Going to our place of business, our place of comfort in Tiger Stadium all the way to the president's office to have some type of conversation, I think that means a lot."
Stevens will be one of the Tigers' most important pieces on defense as Bo Pelini will get to be versatile and aggressive in the way he uses his star safety. Stevens will likely continue his role as a hybrid safety who rushes the passer and plays closer to the line of scrimmage.
“What this number means to me is to be complete – to be a complete person on and off the field,” Stevens said. “That’s how my parents raised me. To be a complete person in everything I do whether it’s in football or in life. I can go on and on about wearing this number and what it means to me. It’s a huge honor.”
As for Curry and Clark, the duo were awarded No. 18, becoming the second consecutive duo to wear the jersey after Lloyd Cushenberry and K'Lavon Chaisson a year ago. Curry instantly became one of the more respected players in the LSU locker room as the team was preparing for the Peach Bowl against Oklahoma last season.
With Clyde Edwards-Helaire hampered with an injury, Curry stepped up with a 90-yard performance on 16 carries. Though he figures to be a leader of the offense and running back room as a whole, Curry will be in a four-horse race at the beginning of the season.
In the team's second preseason scrimmage of the season, he rushed for 74 yards. It's become quite clear that Curry has earned the respect of the locker room and will be given every opportunity to succeed this season.
"LSU football means everything to me," Curry said in the social media post on Friday. "You've gotta wait and be patient and you gotta show out when your number is called. It just means everything in the world to me. "
Clark will be one of the pillars of the LSU defense this season as he hopes to fit the mold of recent past greats like Devin White, Patrick Queen and Jacob Phillips. A Baton Rouge native, Clark has had a tumultuous road to the Tigers, losing his home after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and again in 2016 due to the flooding that occurred when the family lived in Baton Rouge.
In 28 career appearances, Clark has recorded 51 career tackles and 3.5 sacks but is primed for an absolute breakout season alongside running mate Jabril Cox.
"It's a great relationship. He’s one of the first guys that I talked to during the whole transition. Me and him clicked real well on the field and we have kind of the same personality," Cox said of Clark. "The chemistry on the field and outside is very tight between us."
Stevens is the well known veteran star that Clark and Curry hope to become in 2020. All three have proven to be capable stars on and off the field and all three will be asked to be major contributors.