With players and staff now around the football operations building again, Stingley was as eager as anybody to get back. While he admitted some unexpected down time was refreshing, separation anxiety was starting to set in. He needed football back in his life, and the chance to return to the field was a massive relief.
Transitioning into a new system under first-year defensive coordinator Bo Pelini, being able to talk through plays in-person, and not through a virtual zoom meeting, has allowed guys to gain more clarity on certain schematic changes.
“There’s more talks, person-to-person,” Stingley said. “There's more clarification with plays that we’ve been confused on. It’s starting to click now.”
Stingley has become close with projected starter Cordale Flott, a rising sophomore cornerback who showed positive signs in 2019, recording 15 tackles and four passes defended. His stock is only going to rise, Stingley says, and the rest of college football is going to find out how high his ceiling really is.
“If he keeps doing what he’s doing, he’s going to be a big-time player and everyone is going to know how good he really is,” Stingley said. “He’s always been great, and he’s smart and picks up on things faster than anybody that I know.”
Now, as a sophomore and one of the premier corners in America, it’s Stingley’s turn to set an example on the incoming freshmen. Two highly-touted corners, five-star Elias Ricks and four-star Dwight McGlothern, are already making strides and are catching Stingley’s eye so far.
“[Dwight] is a very coachable person. He will always ask questions,” Stingley said. “[Elias] is getting really good, learning our techniques because he’s been here longer. We all came in doing the same things and it’s cool to see the progressions with them.”
Until they hear otherwise, Stingley and the Tigers are preparing like nothing has changed. With the return to practice in Baton Rouge, some things are starting to feel more like business as usual.
“Besides the social distancing, it feels the same as last year,” he said. “I’m excited for it. I hope we have a season. I hope we have all the fans and can just go out there like normal.”
It’s hard to imagine Stingley improving upon his 2019 campaign, but as the generational talent that he is, nobody would be surprised.