Heading into the 2021 summer, there is a strong opinion that the LSU secondary will be much improved under new defensive coordinator Daronte Jones. Of course much of that has to do with the returning talent in the back half of the defense.
According to Pro Football Focus rankings, Derek Stingley and Elias Ricks return not only as the top duo in college football but two of the top-five cornerbacks in the country.
Stingley is one of the most technically sound defensive backs to ever come through the LSU program, leading to an award winning freshman campaign where he was a concensus All-American and national champion. He didn't see all that much success in 2020 as he battled through numerous injuries and inconsistencies in the Bo Pelini led defense.
The issues for this group a year ago weren't talent based but rather through poor communication as LSU consistently allowed explosive plays of 20 yards or more during that 5-5 season. But as the newly minted No. 7, Stingley expects a big junior season in what will likely be his last with the program.
"It's an honor to be part of the legacy of players that have worn the number 7 jersey," Stingley said. "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."
As for Ricks, he proved to be among the most talented and quickest growers in the SEC during the 2020 season. On a defense that was so mistake prone, towards the end of the season he was one of the few reliable players the team could count on.
He recorded 20 tackles and four interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. Though Ricks missed most of the spring with an injury, a summer to continue to perfect his craft could make him and Stingley the most formiddable cornerbacks duo in the country.
It's clear that PFF expects a bounce back year from this Tigers' team and the same can be said for Sports Illustrated as well